We all love a bargain. Our eagerness to click, swipe and take advantage of a good deal saw shoppers spend US $9.12b on Black Friday (up 2.3% YoY) and $11.3b on Cyber Monday (up 5.8% YoY) in 2022. Whether it was new kicks, cameras or clothing, bargain hunters were out in force, translating into billions of dollars poured back into retailers and the economy.
With shopping habits stabilising from pre-pandemic levels, the data predicts a good year for online retailers with average spend growing by 2.75% YoY in the US. The frenzy of 2023 is right around the corner (kicking off November 24th), and retailers have a huge opportunity to score big sales — but this means breaking through the competition and standing out from the ever-increasing crowd.
Here’s a countdown of our 10 best tips for retailers to get ahead of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) madness, grab shoppers' attention and raise those conversion rates.
10. Set targets and start marketing early
Determine specific, measurable goals like increasing sales by 25% or acquiring 100 new email subscribers — your marketing strategy should work back from these targets. Once you have your goals set, don't wait until sales week to promote your deals. Christmas shoppers have their holiday budgets planned out for months and will be keen to secure a ‘must-have’ on their list.
Use lead time to build an email newsletter list, run social media competitions to boost engagement, and advertise new product lines coming "just in time for the sales". Generating word-of-mouth will give you a little extra buzz come November.
9. Sweeten deals by highlighting exclusive offers
Shoppers are bombarded with deals and promotions during the BFCM sales period and are more likely to go to the stores and sites that offer the deepest discounts. Go beyond the standard 20-30% reductions by offering limited time, store-exclusive deals on trending items. Give early access to highly sought after products before general release at a discounted value. Throw in add-ons like accessories for free or attractive rates.
Consider free shipping site-wide or discounts for loyalty members only. Unique perks motivate shoppers to choose your store, so make them feel like they really lucked out on a good find!
8. Optimise your Website and UI
Shoppers are impatient and will abandon a slow-loading, poorly organised website quickly. Make it easy for your shoppers to find what they're looking for with clear information, well organised layouts, mobile optimisation and a working search function — don't make them dig around for your best deals and hottest items.
Half of shoppers quit if checking out takes longer than 30 seconds, so offering a quick, smooth checkout experience should be a no brainer. Instant makes it easy with an optimised, one-page checkout that can be personalised and on-brand. Australian beauty brand, Adorn, optimised their checkout process with Instant and saw a 33% increase in checkout completion within a month. A 20% faster checkout process also helped them secure an 8% repeat purchase rate.
7. Leverage social media and paid advertising
Social media is a great way to connect with potential customers and build anticipation for your sale. Get creative with engaging visual content on platforms your audiences use the most. Consider influencer marketing and videos or attractive visuals of your products in action for Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Measure the success of different creatives to double down on top performing channels.
Run targeted ads with limited-time discounts and free shipping call-to-actions. Re-target website visitors who abandoned carts. Offer social giveaways for shares and follows to exponentially grow your reach and get people interacting with your brand.
6. Highlight customer testimonials and reviews
A product with 5 reviews has a 270% greater chance of being purchased than a product with no reviews. Personal recommendations hold more weight than ads, so highlight authentic customer reviews across your key listings and social posts to build trusted proof of quality and value. Consider offering limited-time incentives for verified customers to leave ratings and reviews.
Filter for thoughtful, image-rich reviews that showcase customer satisfaction, and respond helpfully to criticisms as opportunities for improvement. An authentic review culture forms loyal, enthusiastic brand advocates critical during competitive sales.
5. Offer easy payment plans and loyalty discounts
Breaking costs into affordable easy payment plans makes big ticket items more accessible. Partner with financial providers to offer interest-free instalments or a zero-interest store card. Promote faster sales conversions by offering a 5 - 10 % discount for customers paying in full.
Loyalty members spending (for example) $1000+ within a year could receive discount codes of 15% off their next purchase. Loyalty customers are more likely to make repeat and higher value purchases, translating into lifelong brand advocates.
4. Stock availability and scarcity messaging
Clearly displaying real-time inventory counts effectively informs shoppers of availability and can trigger a ‘fear of missing out’ purchase response when stocks are low.
For doorbuster deals, indicate standby waitlists with estimated times of when stocks may replenish. Customers will return if they know when popular items may come back rather than abandoning it feeling completely frustrated. Set realistic time-lines to maintain credibility.
3. Thank shoppers with rewards
Send targeted post-purchase emails within 48 hours thanking customers, and welcoming them to the tribe. ‘Sweeten the deal’ by offering redeemable loyalty points for future spending, increasing the likelihood of repeat purchases. And, don’t forget to mention deals still available and any upcoming promotions.
Nurture new customers into repeat buyers with personalised follow-ups. This keeps your brand top of mind and provides opportunities to address any issues — it also shows you value your repeat customers.
2. Stress test your site for high traffic
Major sales events put immense strain on sites — it’s vital to make sure your web store can handle the expected increase in traffic during the sales period. Load testing tools like JMeter, Gatling, and K6 simulate thousands of concurrent users to identify bottlenecks like slow pages, giving you an opportunity to make any fixes before losing sales.
Run test transactions to ensure smooth checkout experiences and coordinate with payment gateways to prevent downtime. Nothing ruins conversions like a sluggish site under pressure — half of shoppers quit if checking out takes longer than 30 seconds.
1. Provide Excellent Customer Service
When glitches happen (and they will happen), be ready to respond quickly and resolve any issues. Make sure your inventory is stocked up and order extra inventory well in advance to meet the increased demand. Have a plan in place for handling returns and exchanges quickly and efficiently. Be prepared to hire additional staff to help you handle the increased workload — this could include customer service representatives, order fulfilment staff, and shipping staff.
Remember, going above and beyond for customers will win their loyalty for life, turning a one-time bargain hunter into a return customer.
By planning and executing well in advance, you can leverage the hype of the biggest sales weekend of the year, turning in record-breaking sales, new advocates and loyal customers. You’ll reap the benefits long after the discount deals are over - don't miss out!