How to Prepare your Business for Black Friday & Cyber Monday
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner, and this annual seasonal sale has now become one of the most popular shopping events of the year. Millions of consumers eagerly search for bargain gifts and deals on their desktops, tablets and mobile phones in the build-up to Christmas, with the hopes of snagging a great deal. In 2017, the UK spent more than £1.4bn online during the Black Friday sales - it’s thought that these sales would have been even bigger had they happened after November 2017’s payday.
A study by parcel delivery service, Doddle, had shown that five million UK shoppers stay up to do their Christmas Shopping online as soon as the Black Friday sales go live. Alongside this, High Street shops have stated that they’ve seen a decline in footfall over the recent years, which shows just how important it is for every retail and ecommerce business to be prepared for the Black Friday, Cyber Monday and January sales. You need to ensure that your website, customer service and online shopping experience exceeds that of your competitors - otherwise you risk seeing your revenue go elsewhere. Follow OGL’s guidance below so that you can prepare your business and employees for Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 (23rd & 26th November). This, in turn, will help you to maximise ROI and work efficiently during this increasingly busy period.
Get your Shopping Channels Sorted Out
If your business isn’t selling through marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, then you’re missing out on massive opportunities. A company report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) UK found that there were approximately 8 million Amazon Prime subscribers in the country as of March 2017, and had a 33% UK household penetration rate. Whether we like it or not, online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon have changed the way consumers shop online. A survey undertaken by PwC had shown that Amazon had affected the way in which 77% of e-comm using adults shop online. From comparing prices to looking at postage and packaging, Amazon influenced their decision more than shopping exclusively from the retailer.
By ensuring that your business is selling your products on your website and through other listings such as Amazon and eBay, you’ll be increasing your sales. To ensure that your product listings stand out from the ever-competitive crowd, try doing the following:
Use high-quality, appealing images of your products
Incorporate popular keywords into your product description
Mention that it’s a Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal in the title
If possible, integrate customer reviews in order to build trust
Promote any bargains, deals and sales from the beginning of November
Unify your listings with Multi-Channel Integration
Getting your listings on Amazon, eBay, and on your website takes time and precious resource. Product photos, descriptions and prices need to be added into each listing individually - whether you’ve got 10 or 1,000 products to do, you’ll be losing valuable time that should be spent elsewhere.
When you choose to implement prof.ITplus Online Shopping Channel Integration, you’ll remove the need for multiple data entries, as the Online Channel Hub will automate a lot of this process for you. Product information such as stock level, availability, price and item description are always synchronised and up-to-date, as data is sent back and forth between the shopping channels and OGL’s prof.ITplus ERP software, to ensure all information is accurate.
Offer attractive deals and gain consumer interest
It’s no secret that Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the January sales attract millions of savvy shoppers, so why not take this as an opportunity to provide attractive Black Friday offers and grow your customer base? If you really want to create a buzz, add a countdown clock at the start of the sale, and send emails to your customers informing them of the sale.
The discounts you offer should be on high margin items that help to increase profits during the final quarter of the year. This also means that you can offer free tried-and-tested incentives that will attract customers. Never underestimate the power of offering free delivery on products - doing so can increase revenue by 10%. When you implement free shipping on high margin products, you’ll have the opportunity to boost sales even further, therefore seeing an increase in revenue.
Take Control of Stock Management
If you want to reap the rewards of a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday, then Inventory Planning, Stock Control and Stock Management are crucial. If you don’t organise your supply chain, you’re at risk of disappointing customers and missing out on sales. Every one of your channels should accurately reflect stock level. When you have the correct measures in place, you’ll be able to handle the spike in orders during the sales season with ease.
One of the worst scenarios any retailer can face is an out-of-stock situation - even more so during a sale, seasonal holiday or high-volume period. A survey undertaken by The Global Out Of Stock Crisis had shown that 70% of UK respondents had found a product they were ready to buy online, but it was out of stock. To make matters worse, 26% of customers will buy from another brand if the product they want is out of stock. Studies have shown that the average Out of Stock rate for an SME is 8% - this rate increases to 10% if the product is promoted or discounted. While it might be a bit too late to implement Stock Management for this year’s Black Friday sales, you can prepare for 2019’s Black Friday sales with prof.ITplus Stock Management. In just a few clicks, you’ll find out what your fast moving, highly profitable goods are; these are the ones to buy in bulk for greater margins – prof.ITplus will pinpoint them for you. Never keep customers waiting for their order again. When a company runs out of stock, it leaves customers feeling frustrated and dissatisfied. This can be detrimental to a business. Studies have shown that 91% of customers no longer want to engage with a business once they’ve had a bad experience with them. To see success this Black Friday and Cyber Monday, making sure you’ve got control of your stock is critical.
Review Previous Black Friday Sales Data for Better Results
One of the best ways to get ahead of stock control and management ahead of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the January Sales is to review the data from previous Black Friday sales. This will show you whether there were any surprises, what products sold well and the products that weren’t as popular. This will then help you to forecast and predict what stock you need for this year’s Black Friday sales. You should also take economic factors such as the weather forecast into consideration, and any other current trends that might impact you.
Speaking to your suppliers and confirming that they have the stock you need before Black Friday is vital, and you should have a contingency plan in place, just in case you need more products at short notice. Doing so means that you can fulfil orders (which means you are keeping your customers happy) and will increase your chances of business returning.
Use CRM to lead nurture your customers all year round
The competition to stand out during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales is fiercer than ever before, which means that your business needs to stay ahead of your rivals. Utilising your CRM to its full potential will give you the ability to maximise sales as you can create a more targeted sales and digital marketing strategy that promotes your brand and your offers all year round. Your relationship shouldn’t start and end with Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
Alongside this, you should have an all-encompassing shopping cart strategy from the moment someone adds a product to the basket. From firing an email 12 hours after someone has left an item in the shopping cart, to sending a “thank-you” email after someone has made a purchase, to a follow-up review email a few days after a product has been delivered, you can keep your customers engaged throughout the whole process.
You should create a comprehensive marketing strategy that will keep consumers engaged post-sale. Through well-timed marketing campaigns, you can increase subscribers, enhance brand-awareness and boost sales throughout the year. According to eMarketer, consumers who purchase products from email offers spend 138% more than those that don’t receive email offers, and 80% of retail professionals said email marketing is their greatest driver of customer retention. With an integrated CRM system, you can create excellent marketing and promotional campaigns through personalised communications, which in turn will enhance brand confidence and customer loyalty, giving your business the potential to fully capitalise on potential ROI.
Avoid storing customer credit and debit cards
Every ecommerce business needs their customer’s credit card number, name and address in order to facilitate a quick checkout, but does this information need to be stored on your online servers after? According to the PCI Standards, storing your customer’s credit and debit card information should be kept to a minimum, and information such as the CVN, PIN and full contents of both the chip and magnetic strip shouldn’t ever be stored. If you’re storing any of this, you’re in violation of PCI Standards .
If you have to store cardholder data, you must ensure encryption, firewalls, truncation, masking and hashing protocols are implemented. These are critical components of data protection and will ensure that your customer information is safe. Without access to the proper cryptographic keys, any encrypted data you have will be unreadable and unusable - even if criminal hackers manage to evade any other security controls. If you absolutely have to store payment information, you should consider payment facilitators like PayPal and Sagepay. They will handle the credit card-related transaction in whole. Working with a cyber partner could also be a way to identify any potential vulnerabilities to protect your customers and your reputation.
In the build-up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, SMEs need to make sure that their business is adequately protected and has customer experience at the heart of what they do.
From ensuring you’ve got the best visibility through unified listings, to making sure you have adequate stock levels to meet potential demand backed up by a cyber security strategy and contingency plan that will help to build trust, there’s a lot to prepare. Integrating your ecommerce website with a centralised back-end ERP system to manage stock, pricing and promotions will not only free up your time but also enable you to maximise sales opportunities to truly reap the rewards of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.