Cyber Monday and Holiday Shopping: How to Get Your Business Ready

October 19, 2015

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Fast fact: Cyber Monday alone raked in $2 billion in eCommerce sales in 2014.

More and more Canadian consumers are gearing up for deep seasonal discounts in conjunction with holidays borrowed from our neighbours to the south - Black Friday and the following Cyber Monday.

Sales for the entire four-day weekend (which begins with Black Friday and ends with Cyber Monday on November 30, 2015) showed 4.32 percent growth in 2014 over the same weekend in 2013.  Consumers are also shopping more in the week leading up to Black Friday, with nearly 5 percent growth year over year.

So what have Canadians been buying during this big shopping weekend? Electronics and fashion items continue to be big hits, but with such a large captive shopping audience, nearly all eCommerce businesses can partake. 

It’s not enough to simply post a “10 percent off” sale however, and hope it brings more shoppers.  Online retailers need to prepare to stand out for this popular event, given the growing volumes of shoppers and competition.

Let’s follow Joe’s Jammin’ Jellies, a hypothetical [or fictional] homegrown jam and jellies business, as it prepares for Cyber Monday.  Including tips on how to maximize your profits and ensure consumers are in the loop, Joe’s demonstrates the success that can come with being prepared:

 

Advertise, promote, market, brand… and repeat.

Joe’s Jammin’ Jellies doesn’t have a big advertising budget (or one at all, really) so it has to leverage any and all free marketing to get its message out.  In an attempt to promote anticipated online sales in advance of Cyber Monday, and ensure that customers will include Joe’s in their shopping plans, the business has updatedits website with a flashy headline banner.

cyber-monday-online-banner-sample

Joe’s is also heavily relying on social media to get the word out about its Cyber Monday deals, posting daily images of discounts on the company’s Instagram page that also appear on Facebook and Twitter. 

TIP #1: Use hashtags (i.e. #cybermonday) to ensure social posts stay on top of trending topics. Many businesses rely heavily on social media as a communication channel - fashiontruck Canada for example, relies heavily on social as its primary communication medium with customers.   

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Looking for more Facebook help? Check out these Facebook articles:

Lastly, Joe’s will target its corporate email list to spread the word.  It has put together a couple of lists to segment between different buyers who have provided their consent to receive e-mails from Joe’s in order to drive tailored messages to each group. 

For example:

  • Business customers: Joe’s will send larger discount information to its restaurant customers  that include the jellies and jams on their menus, as well as retailers that resell Joe’s products
  • Customers vs. prospects: Returning customers are eligible for an additional discount for their loyalty

cyber-monday-email-sample

TIP #2:  Don’t forget to build suspense; a staggered email approach with reminders closer to the day will keep the upcoming event top of mind.

 

Joe’s has planned a “Door Crasher Sale” on its most popular item – Jazzle Berry Jam – for the first 100 online purchases.  These shoppers can add a jar of the jam to an online purchase of any amount, for only $0.01.

TIP #3: Have you seen people line up outside stores prior to opening hours on Boxing Day? That’s likely because they’ve promoted their famous “Door Crasher” sales on their website and flyers to entice and drive buyers to their stores. Not everything has to be discounted 80 percent, but a couple of popular items amongst your customers will definitely help boost traffic and hopefully sales.

 

Expect heavy traffic and demand.

Joe’s Jammin’ Jellies faced a terrible dilemma last holiday season that the company vouched to avoid in 2015 – a website crash.  This year, Joe’s has ensured that its eCommerce site is prepared to handle high visitor volumes and won’t crash on Cyber Monday, or during any other peak shopping times.

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TIP #4: This type of information can be double-checked with your website provider.  A crash can bring your site down for hours, if not the remainder of the day, leading to lost sales and a negative customer experience.

 

Joe’s Jammin Jellies has prepared large inventory volumes for the holiday season. After spending a great deal of effort on promoting sales, Joe’s wants to be sure that nothing goes “Out of Stock” via the eCommerce site during peak sales times.

TIP #5: Anticipate sales volumes. Reach out to your payment provider to review how many transactions you processed last year, the average transaction value and at what time those sales occurred.   

 

Optimizing the customer experience

Joe’s Jammin Jellies has grown steadily over the past five years, with an established B2B and B2C customer base.  Starting out in the kitchen of owner Joe Hausman, the company has always prided itself on offering superior, personal customer service – from delivering beautifully packaged products, to offering a money-back satisfaction guarantee on all its products. 

In anticipation of the holiday sales, Joe’s plans to offer free domestic shipping starting on Black Friday; will hire two extra customer service representatives for its tool-free ordering and support line; and will run a social media promotion that will award a random prize to those that provide feedback via social media with the hashtag #joesfortheholidays.

TIP #6: Studies have shown that there is a significant correlation between customer experience and return shoppers.  Make your businesses’ eCommerce experience rewarding, and shoppers will keep coming back.  Offer immediate assistance, with tools such as Live Chat.  Follow up with customers following their purchase to ensure they are satisfied.  Ask for feedback whenever possible.

 

TIP #7: Another customer-friendly option is to optimize your eCommerce site for mobile users.  This makes purchasing on-the-go easier and faster, particularly given 75 percent of Canadians surveyed report they would be less likely to leave their homes without their phones than their wallets.  Provide a seamless, easy experience to your customers by letting them shop on whatever platform they prefer.

 

Joe’s has no anticipated plans for shopping cart integration for speedier checkout, as they already leverage payment solution provider Moneris® for their payment processing needs.  Not only do customers want a hassle-free shopping experience, but they are in a hurry to do other shopping during this time of year. 

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TIP #8: Help customers complete their sales quickly and easily, and help your business avoid shopping cart abandonment. Clearly state all fees, such as shipping and handling, up front to avoid last-minute confusion.  Limit information requests and options so the checkout process can be as fast as possible.

 

Planning for after the event(s)

Discounts often lead buyers to make impulse purchases, which can lead to returns.  Joe’s Jammin Jellies doesn’t worry about such issues, as they have a very clearly stated return policy printed on the website, in-store, and on customer receipts.

TIP #9: Make sure your return policy is clearly indicated wherever deemed necessary. This is a topic on top of every holiday shoppers mind (especially when buying for grandma who returns everything). Not sure what your return policy should be? Check out this article.

 

Lastly, Joe’s puts a high priority on tracking Cyber Monday/holiday sales so that it can evaluated promotional performance.  This information also helps forecast for next year’s sales events.

TIP 10: Setting the stage properly this year will help you pave the way for clearer years ahead. Set up Google analytics free traffic tracking tool that every eCommerce business owner should have.

Track sales performance – did you sell how much you planned to, where there any items you could’ve left out of your strategy? How did your email campaigns perform? And did you receive traffic from them?

 

Black Friday marks the beginning of heavy holiday shopping traffic, so don’t miss out on the opportunities your eCommerce business has to partake in not only the eager customers, but also the revenues.  Holiday shopping in general has largely shifted to online purchasing: 34% of Canadians were expected to buy holiday gifts online in 2014, up 23% from the previous year.  That statistic will undoubtedly grow again this year.

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The information in this article is provided solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be legal, business or other professional advice or an endorsement of any of the websites or services listed.

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