Some experts are predicting this year’s Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) and holiday season to be the biggest one yet in the e-commerce industry! Others are suggesting people have already started shopping for the holidays and started as early as Prime Day in June. If we've learned anything over the past 18 months of this pandemic it's that things are going to change. And while we can't predict every change, we can anticipate and prepare with the knowledge we have. Here are some tips to help you optimize your e-commerce site for what's predicted to be a busy BFCM season.
It's never too early to reach out to existing customers. Take a look at both your existing and new customer base. Are there any engagement campaigns you can run prior to BFCM to re-engage with existing customers? Are there any new customer engagement plays you can make in September and October so that by the time November rolls around people are in your funnel?
While not a site optimization, this recommendation can help you do two things: First, it can help you re-engage with existing customers and connect with new customers. Second, it can help spread out the traffic so you're getting orders earlier in the season, helping to mitigate things like supply chain disruption that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Last year, Shopify stores saw more mobile purchases than desktop purchases across all of Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) for the third year in a row. In 2019, 69% of sales on Shopify were made on phones or tablets, while just 31% occurred on desktops. This recurring data expresses how important it is to ensure your site is accessible across all platforms—especially mobile—and can handle the increased traffic. In general, website conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% with each additional second of load time between 0-5 seconds but this is anticipated to drop even more on BFCM as customers are antsy to find deals while they last. So make sure your site is optimized for mobile transactions. If it's not, there are some simple fixes you can make now. Then, make a plan to do a more robust mobile optimization over the next 12 months. We'd advise working with a trusted tech partner to make a roadmap for how to move forward in the short- and long-term with mobile optimization to ensure you're building a scalable solution and not occurring needless tech debt.
Optimal site speed is a must to prepare for the increased flow of traffic that comes with BFCM, especially on mobile devices. In this 27-Point Checklist to Prepare Your Store for Black Friday Cyber Monday, Shopify suggests testing and ensuring your website can handle traffic and load capacities through tools such as k6 Cloud and Shopify’s online store speed report where they will run speed tests for your website and then combine each page’s Google Lighthouse speed score and compare it to similar businesses. There are many mediums to achieve this data, but do not skimp out on it! Again, there may be some short-term changes you can make today while making a plan for the future. Find that trusted tech partner, create a roadmap, and do what you can do now with a plan for how to improve over time.
Collecting data sooner rather than later is ideal for most analytic tools as they often learn over time. We recommend implementing these ASAP, if you haven't already:
Each of these systems will add invaluable amounts of information and measurable results that will assist in data-driven decisions both for this year's BFCM and for years to come. If you can just do one of these things, make sure your Google Analytics is set up and working. This will ensure you're getting data. Then, working with a trusted tech partner over the next year, develop a roadmap to integrate a CDP, PIM, and/or ERP based on your business needs.
Communication is always key but will be even more important on BFCM as customers who chat with a brand convert three times more often and have a 10%-15% higher average cart value. If you don't already, consider integrating live chats and be sure to increase staff availability for customer questions and assistance. Be careful to assess what plugins you use and choose something that will integrate with your existing tech stack. Again, a trusted tech partner can help make a recommendation that will work with your tech stack and minimize tech debt.
Generating conversions can be challenging when there are so many retailers cutting their price and providing once a year—or even lifetime—deals. Customers will commonly fill their shopping cart with plenty of items on multiple sites and weigh out their options before making a purchasing decision. This will lead to a significant amount of abandoned carts and an opportunity for your potential customers to become loyal to your competitors. The global average cart abandonment rate on mobile devices was 78.43%. This number spiked in the U.S. to 85.81%. To ensure your customers stay on your site and proceed to checkout, minor changes such as adding a timer to incentivize fast purchases can help. In addition, SemRush suggests these tips in order to Reduce Cart Abandonment and Recapture Customers. These tips include steps to create a validated site with calls to action that provide easy access and maximum customer support. Be sure you have the correct analytics set up to accurately retarget past visitors and customers.
BFCM is only the beginning—anticipate some heavier work in the following weeks. While you will obtain many sales, you will also likely have returns. Make sure your site clearly communicates your return policy so, under any circumstance, you are transparent, stay true to your values, and build trust with your customers.
While we can't tell you what this season will look like, we can help you be prepared so that your customers have an excellent experience on your e-commerce site, and you have the tools and roadmap to scale and grow for the future. If you're looking for a trusted tech partner, we're here to help!
This article was written in collaboration with Rachelle Cummings.