The busiest time of the year for retailers is almost here—Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) are only a couple of weeks away. The starting pistols of the offline and online shopping seasons are on November 25 and November 28, respectively, and retailers around the world are working to find ways to meet the new era of holiday shopping.
BFCM is always a big deal in retail, and 2022 promises to be an exciting year for online and offline stores alike.
While ecommerce will continue to account for a large chunk of BFCM spending, it’s worth noting that online retail slowed to a 9.4% YOY growth in 2022 (the slowest growth rate since 2019).
Meanwhile, shoppers have increasingly ramped up in-store visits this year. Industry data shows that by the end of Q1 2022, retail foot traffic rose 34.4% compared to last year.
All to say that BFCM 2022 will be an interesting one for retailers, which is why it’s essential to ramp up your efforts sooner rather than later.
Consider the following pointers.
- Set up email marketing campaigns
- Embrace social media
- Focus on search engine optimization
- Choose the best items for discounts
- Stagger sales and discounts
- Add contactless options
- Plan your shipping strategy
- Step up your customer support
- Take advantage of apps
- Tailor your messaging
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Set up email marketing campaigns
As the holiday season approaches, you will likely get more eyeballs on your emails.
68% of shoppers say they pay more attention to companies’ messages during the holidays. If you’ve been collecting your customers’ email addresses through your loyalty program, email newsletter or even to send them an e-receipt, you should definitely send them emails to let them know about your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.
According to Andrei Vasilescu, CEO and Digital Marketing expert of DontPayFull, a great tip is to stagger your emails. “Send the first wave of teaser emails with the hints of your upcoming offers to get the attention of your audience. Your second wave of emails will contain your exclusive offers customized for different leads,” says Vasilescu.
While sending generic emails might be the easiest option, it might also be the least effective one. Each customer is different, meaning their offers should be too. This is where segmentation comes in handy.
Jonathan Frey, CMO of Urban Bikes Direct store recommends “using segmented email marketing to offer customers a personalized holiday sales experience. Not every sale will appeal to every customer, and not every customer will be completely receptive to the concept of Black Friday itself. Create targeted messages to get on every customer types’ wavelength.”
Place your bets on loyalty
While the upcoming shopping weekend can be a great time to lure new customers in, it can still be pricey, as it can cost up to 25 times more to acquire a new customer. Marketing to current customers is not only less expensive, but they tend to buy more often and spend more than first-time customers.
It may seem tempting to exclusively run paid ads on Facebook and Instagram to get more new customers, but don’t make the mistake of neglecting your existing ones; they’re the ones that are more likely to buy more and recommend your store to friends and family. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the perfect times to strengthen your relationship with your existing customers.
Don’t risk having your best customers shop at one of your competitors. Create emails that feature your holiday deals and send them to your existing customers, and don’t forget to create a sense of urgency (this is a limited time offer!) so that they act fast. Make sure to use segmented email marketing to offer your VIP customers exclusive deals that they might like.
Pro tip: With Lightspeed’s loyalty features and integrations, you can easily create beautiful promotional emails with its built-in drag-and-drop email builder.
Embrace social media
Social media marketing can be expensive and have a low impact—if you don’t know what you’re doing.
If you’re looking to get people into your physical store, we suggest narrowing your audience to be only within a certain distance from your location. We call the act of narrowing your ad’s reach by state, province, city, zip or postal code geotargeting.
This achieves two things:
- The only people getting your Black Friday ads are located near your business and are more likely to visit your store and make a purchase.
- You get a higher ROI for what you spend. Since your audience is highly-targeted, each person that sees your ad is more likely to convert into a customer.
It’s a lot cheaper (and effective) to make your ads as targeted as possible.
Launch dynamic ads on Facebook
If you’re looking to shift some of your foot traffic to your online shop you might also want to reach a broader audience. Similar to geotargeted ads, it’s also much more effective to remarket people who have visited your online store.
Eagan Heath, Owner of Caravan Digital, recommends getting your Facebook and Instagram Ad prospecting audiences ready, “You can close a lot of sales by remarketing these folks during the holiday rush.” The holidays are the best time to use tools like Facebook and Instagram to reach out to people that have connected with your brand previously and close the sale.
Think about it—they’ve already looked at products on your website, so why not send them a reminder to take action? If you’ve installed Facebook Pixel on your website, you can create Facebook ads that feature the very same products someone viewed.
For example, let’s say you were shopping for a pair of Mejuri earrings and saw some Cabochon Studs you liked. You didn’t buy them, but you did look at them. Next thing you know, you see them in a carousel ad on your Facebook newsfeed.
Your customer might then add the earrings to their cart and become a paying customer. Remarketing people who are visiting your online store is another trick for running Facebook ads that actually work.
Start using Instagram Shopping
If you’re creating content on Instagram (which you should be), there’s a great feature called Instagram Shopping that lets people buy products featured in your posts directly through the app.
Considering that 20% of shoppers—and 37% of Gen Zers—say Instagram is their favorite channel for holiday shopping, you should definitely look into setting up Instagram Shopping.
While it’s used by big-box retailers, it’s easy for independent retailers to set up too. Once you set up Instagram Shopping and create a few posts, those posts are visible to any of the 200 million accounts that use Instagram’s Explore tab daily. That’s a lot of exposure and potential sales for not a lot of effort.
Focus on search engine optimization
SEO can be a powerful tool to bring in customers organically in the short and long term.
While optimizing your website should be an ongoing process, it doesn’t hurt to take a look and improve your existing landing pages and product pages to make it easier for search engines like Google to crawl your website and bring customers during the upcoming shopping weekend. This doesn’t mean you need to revamp your entire website, but even just updating copy in strategic pages and products might make a world of difference
According to Frey, one way to optimize your copy is by “analyzing your online store’s searches and paying close attention to any terms customers enter into the search field on your site only to be greeted with poor results.”
Once you know which search terms to target, it’s time to start optimizing. “Using these search terms, optimize your site copy and metadata as best you can to better align with what customers expect from you. You can also analyze your website’s search terms to determine which items you should be promoting and putting on sale,” says Frey.
Optimizing your website can also help bring foot traffic to your physical store. But first things first: Make sure your store information is properly set up on Google My Business. People should be able to find your store’s location, contact information and other basic information with a simple search.
When revamping your website, also focus on making information like store hours, health and safety policies and deals you’ll be offering at your store, easily accessible. Make sure your in-store policies are prominently featured on your website to motivate customers to visit.
Improve your website speed
Patience is not a quality that can be attributed to most online shoppers, and having a website that won’t load quickly can easily mean a lost sale. Approximately 40% of people will leave a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
Making sure your website’s speed is up to the task of an added influx of customers on one of the busiest weekends of the year should be high on the list of your priorities.
In order to ensure your website is ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, take a look at which pages have the most visitors and start optimizing those pages first.
Hosea Chang, COO of Hayden Los Angeles, has even set up a “stand in line” virtually to avoid any issues during the busy days. According to Chang, it helps to “limit the amount of people that have access to the website at any one time, thus making sure that everyone has their chance to buy, but that the website won’t go down.”
Another way to make sure all your customers have a good experience on your website, she adds, is “to limit the number of purchases allowed for one person, just to ensure that everyone gets to buy what they’re looking for.”
Revamp your website security
Now that your website is ready to take on the weekend rush, it’s time to focus on an even more important subject: website security.
According to Chang, “this is the prime time for hackers and cyber attackers to strike, so investing in better measures of protection and security for your website is where you should be putting your money—and your time—right now. That is what’s going to make your shoppers feel safe and like their information won’t be stolen, effectively.”
If customers don’t feel comfortable enough inputting their credit card information or if they have any security issues after making a sale, it’ll likely end up costing you future sales. When it comes to security, it’s important to tackle these problems before they happen.
With Lightspeed’s eCommerce platform you have the ability to secure your online store using 256-bit SSL encryption. This SSl connection is an encrypted connection between web server and web browser (visitors to your store). All eCom stores are hosted from a secure location, where all data transfers occur over a 256-bit SSL connection. And all your data is encrypted.
Everything from data transfers between your online store and databases, to payment and customer data are stored in encrypted form.
In addition, by using payment options like Lightspeed Payments in your web shop (and store), you get access to a fast and secure checkout experience with built-in PCI compliance and fraud protection so you can rest easy.
Choose the best items for discounts
While past year’s data might not be as reliable this year due to the changing retail landscape, you can still fall on recent purchase history when making decisions such as discounting.
According to Vasilescu, first you should take a look at new trends to help you decide what products should be discounted.
While you should still take a look at traditional best sellers and include them in your discounting, you should also take a look at your sales in the past months and analyze the items that people have been adding to their cart recently.
Consider using a tool such as Google Trends to identify popular search terms in your industry or area. Then, use your findings to inform your BFCM inventory decisions.
Adding discounts with Lightspeed
During Black Friday and Cyber Monday customers will be on the lookout for a range of discounts and offers. According to Wiebe de Boer, Product Marketing Manager at Lightspeed, since the beginning of the pandemic “we have seen a surge in online shopping and I expect that that trend will continue during the upcoming sales weekend. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all about discounts and getting the best deals.” He added that each shop will have different needs and “with Lightspeed eCommerce they have the capacity to offer many different types of discounts, through segmentation, upselling, bulk and combination discounting. You just use the ones that serve your business needs best.”
De Boer also recommends letting customers know about those discounts as early as possible.
“As a consumer, part of the shopping experience is doing online research, comparing products and their prices on different stores. Make sure you advertise your BF/CM sale in advance to ensure that your webshop makes it on as many shopping lists as possible.” — Wiebe de Boer, Product Marketing Manager at Lightspeed
Stagger sales and discounts
While great discounts are still at the heart of this buying weekend, some merchants are looking to do things a little differently by offering discounts over an extended period rather than just certain hours or the weekend. Staggering sales and discounts removes the “rush” and keeps customers happy and safe.
Bryan Truong, founder of board game website GameCows, recommends “getting rid of the early bird deals” and that “having the sales last throughout the day would still give consumers the feeling of a deal and a discount without forcing an arbitrary timeline that could get dangerous. Simply offering the same deals online would help too, and stores could even give the option for in-store pickup to cut down on shipping costs.”
Companies like Walmart, for example, are spreading their Black Friday deals over separate events rather than just a rushed one-day event.
Shifting your strategy to accommodate the unique needs of today’s shoppers will go a long way and will help kick start the selling season on a positive note.
Add contactless options if you haven’t already
The world may have opened backed up, some habits people developed during the pandemic aren’t going away.
Case in point: BOPIS, or buy online pickup in store, is here to stay.
The habit took center stage during the onset of the pandemic, and now 64% of shoppers report using the option, with 20% noting that they use it frequently.
While not every store can offer delivery, BOPIS and curbside pickup are great ways to incentivize shoppers. According to Nastassia Steavu, Content Marketing Manager at booxi, “if your business doesn’t offer delivery, curbside pickup is a quick and easy option that offers a safe, convenient experience. Offering your customers the option to schedule their pickup without having to leave their vehicle avoids in-store lineups, crowded areas and is completely contactless. This is an easy solution to implement that avoids shipping delays during the busy holiday season.”
For Moss, “offering shoppers remote, contactless, and online alternatives is going to be vital for brick and mortar retailers this Black Friday/Cyber Monday, to help to keep shoppers physically safe but also and very importantly, to build brand perception and reassure shoppers enough to tempt them to go out.”
Retailers can take golf courses as a great example of offering contactless options. Historically, golf courses used to lean on more traditional systems, but during the pandemic many had to make a shift in order to survive. They are now one of the few businesses that were able to remain open all throughout the pandemic, partly because they were able to embrace technology and offer a contactless experience through eCommerce (as seen in the Lachute Case Study), online booking, pre-payment and self-service kiosks. Golf courses are now better prepared to leverage these established channels to run Black Friday sales and offer discounts.
Moss also adds that having contactless options shows customers that you have their best interests in mind. “Providing options such as contactless collection and remote payment and delivery help to reassure and encourage shoppers to shop with you.” This gives customers a choice and “lets customers know that you have thought things through with the appropriate level of gravitas,” says Moss.
When planning out your Black Friday and Cyber Monday messaging, make sure to prominently feature options like contactless payments, shipping or curbside and contactless pickup.
Plan your shipping strategy
Shipping is becoming increasingly important for the holiday shopper in the pandemic retail world and the days after Black Friday and Cyber Monday are busy days for shipping companies everywhere. According to OrderCup CEO, Aloke Nath, “carriers all gear up for handling the additional volume by hiring thousands of temporary workers to handle the holiday shipping smoothly. ”
With the increased volume comes an increase in costs. Nath adds that “for the first time, USPS will institute a peak pricing adjustment for shipments between October 18 and December 27. The pricing adjustment will vary between $0.25 and $1.40.” Understanding peak pricing will help you plan ahead for costs.
Offer free shipping
When it comes to ordering, customers have become accustomed to free shipping. In fact, 49% of respondents in the National Retail Federation’s annual Thanksgiving weekend consumer survey cited free shipping was one of the biggest motivations behind their purchases.
According to Nath, “it’s a well-known fact that free shipping and returns increases conversions and sales. However, free shipping is never really free, so you have to evaluate this in the context of the overall sale and how it affects your margins.”
Nath also adds that you should take into consideration these factors and strategies to compensate for your free shipping:
- Add a minimum order value threshold to qualify for free shipping
- Offer free shipping for certain products only
- Add free shipping during a specific promotion or time frame
- Include free shipping as part of being a member of a club (such as Amazon Prime)
- Offer free local pickup at the store or warehouse
While free shipping might not be possible for every shop, it’s important to crunch the numbers and weigh the increased sales that it might generate with the costs. “Often the increase in sales will compensate for the free shipping, but sometimes you will have to adjust the price of items to support free shipping. Hence it is important to monitor your sales and margins on an ongoing basis to make sure that you still reach your target margins,” says Nath.
Step up your customer support
While a lot of regulars might shop with you during the busy shopping weekend, you’ll also have to impress an influx of new customers. Providing excellent customer service is the way to do it.
Busy days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday means you need to have a support team that’s ready for an influx of questions around store hours, offers, shipping, return policies and inventory. While you might be able to stave off certain questions by having thorough answers on your website, you will still need to be equipped to handle added requests.
Having a positive interaction with a customer will not only solve their immediate needs, but it might also mean future sales and a repeat business. According to Jo Causon, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service nine out of ten people who received ‘excellent’ service during Black Friday shopped with that retailer again, 37% more than those who received ‘okay’ service.”
Offer support across all channels
In store, you need to make sure you have enough staff for an influx of customers, while also staying compliant with your region’s health and safety requirements. This might mean that you won’t hire as much additional staff as you did in previous years, but you’ll have to plan accordingly based on your recent foot traffic and in-store customer limit.
Online, this means having your customer service information readily available. According to Ben Graham, Content Manager at AnswerConnect, stores need to “prepare for an influx of digital orders, but also be prepared to guide new shoppers through the purchase journey in the days leading up to Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Many consumers will go online in the week prior to these days to compare products and enquire about their spec-points.”
Adding a live chat feature is also a great way to power through all your customers messages and positively affect your bottom line. According to a study by Kayako, over half of consumers are more likely to repurchase from a company that offers live chat support. Not only that, but 79% of businesses say that adding live chat to their customer support arsenal has had “a positive effect on sales, revenue and customer loyalty.”
“Be ready to support them, either with an on-site chatbot or by assigning members of your team to the live chat.” — Ben Graham, Content Manager at AnswerConnect
Another important channel to keep an eye on during the busy shopping days? Your social channels. Braham adds that “many consumers prefer to speak to a real person, and they often use direct messaging through social media pages to do this. Try to assign different channels to people in your team, and try to respond within an hour or less.” Making sure you cover all your bases during the busy holiday shopping season will help you gain trust from your customers and establish long term connections with them.
Take advantage of apps
Succeeding (and surviving) during Black Friday and Cyber Monday can seem like a daunting task, but you don’t have to go at it alone. By opting for a point of sale solution like Lightspeed Retail and eCommerce you count with a multitude of applications that integrate seamlessly with your system.
Check out the following apps to help you win big during the upcoming shopping weekend:
Live chat might be the answer to putting out all sorts of fires during Black Friday and Cyber Monday while also making some sweet sales. Facebook Chat removes barriers to purchase and lets you answer customer questions in real time with live customer support through Facebook Messenger directly from your Lightspeed store.
With Facebook Chat you can easily personalize your chat with your branding by adding custom images, customer colors, button text, chat icons, backgrounds and your very own personal welcome message. You can even set your own trigger controls that allow you to choose which users see your chat, how often they see it and when. This allows you to choose how you interact with customers and gives you more control over the exchange.
This app also allows you instant access to all 50+ POWr apps, like Form Builder, which lets you collect data on your website, and Popup to help boost your landing page conversions.
With so much competition going on during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s essential to find ways to stand out. Popup allows you to grab your website visitors’ attention at the right moment and get more sales.
If you’re looking to beef up your email address database, Popup lets you create mailing list or newsletter signup popups to capture emails for the holiday season. Add popups like a “Spin to Win” for special promotions, announce flash sales for the busy sales weekend or create urgency by embedding a Countdown Timer and featured product images in your popup.
It’s also important to stay in control of your popups and not overwhelm customers. With Popup you can easily set custom triggers with a time delay on a click, or when the user is about to leave. You can also manage the frequency with which Popup appears to the same visitor. Popup is also highly customizable, allowing you to change your popup background color, use a full-screen window or small popup window, add borders to your popup, pick custom fonts for your popup, and more.
The best part? Popup helps you reduce bounce rate by showing discount codes when a shopper is about to leave your page.
The sales marathon of the season needs a ticking clock to add to the excitement. Countdown Timer is a great option to help instill that added sense of urgency during your shoppers’ purchase decision journey for higher conversions. Use this custom countdown timer to mark the end of a sale, promotion or countdown until a product launch.
Countdown Timer also allows you to count up from any number to demonstrate site visitors and add social proof on how many customers have viewed an item. You can easily customize your timer by adding a custom text, message or button to direct visitors to the sale landing page on your site, or even to redirect customers once the count has ended.
This Black Friday might look a bit different for your brick-and-mortar shop. booxi helps you get ready for the future of retail by offering smart booking solutions.
It’s time to start adapting to the new reality that consumers are looking for and shift to an omnichannel experience. By adding options like online booking appointments, your business will be able to meet the needs of a life post-pandemic. With booxi you can add a “Book Now” button or set up a self-serve kiosk in-store to manage individual appointments, group scheduling and events all in one place.
booxi provides an all-in-one scheduling system that allows customers to make appointments and also sends automated notifications through email or sms. With Lightspeed and booxi you also get seamless transfer of data to streamline customer service.
Another way booxi can help you meet modern needs is through video conferencing. Nastassia Steavu, Content Marketing Manager at booxi, explains that “personal shopper appointments have been proven time and time again that a personalized experience will convert 90% of customers and increase the average basket 4-6x more. Providing this kind of appointment-based service in-store, by phone or video has proven to be extremely effective.”
During hectic days leading to and including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s important to find ways to connect and communicate with customers without having to change the way you work. Ikeono lets merchants connect with their customers seamlessly through Lightspeed Retail and eCom by using Ikeono Business Texting.
Ikeono’s chat widget is easy to install. It also empowers businesses to not only understand what a customer cares about but also pivot quickly through organic conversations. With Ikeono you can text-enable your business phone number to send and receive text messages and high resolution picture messages. Maybe your customer is looking for an item that’s sold out—through the chat widget you can easily let them know about alternative products that are available and still make the sale.
With Ikeono you also get real-time notifications inside and outside of Lightspeed so you can provide great support, at all times. The best part about Ikeono is the ability to capture customers’ contact info and the questions you’re asking so you can start building more insightful custom audiences. Through Ikeono you can also collect customer feedback after a sale, gauge customer satisfaction or even rectify a negative experience and increase your brand perception.
Customers are waiting for Black Friday and Cyber Monday to do their most expensive purchases. Your best discount on high value items needs the best sales experience. QuoteMachine helps you personalize the online sales experience through interactive quotes, online order forms and invoices that include advanced payment features that allow for contactless sales.
Quote Machine also helps you get paid on time through their professional invoices with payment terms, account statements, recurring billings and subscriptions made available through Lightspeed’s register. With flexible payment features like credit card on file you can easily manage the way you accept payments and start accepting digital payments for any amount.
Through QuoteMachine, you can also easily sell through social media and organize contactless sales and pickups with their interactive price lists and online order forms. And of course, it’s fully customizable. Create beautiful templates that show your brand and colors, enriched product descriptions, documents that tell you when your customers read them and let them take action. This month alone, start using QuoteMachine for free and get a 40% discount on their premium plan.
Shipping during Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes with its own set of challenges. With OrderCup you can save time and money with their comprehensive, easy-to-use, cloud-based shipping platform for ecommerce shippers with built-in discounted shipping.
OrderCup allows you to easily integrate with leading carriers like USPS, FedEx, UPS, DHL Canada Post, Purolator and DHL Parcel. You can also compare rates to identify the best shipping option for your store. Better yet, OrderCup counts with aggressive shipping discounts with USPS, DHL, UPS.
When it comes to shipping during holidays it’s important to always err on the side of caution. OrderCup allows you to make one-click single or batch shipping to reduce shipping errors and take advantage of discounted shipping insurance both for domestic and international shipments.
Its user-defined filters, automation rules and shipping profiles help you streamline your shipping. And if things don’t go as planned and customers decide to return their order, OrderCup offers returns processing, both-on demand or automatically with each shipment.
Great deals are at the heart of the upcoming holiday shopping season. Kangaroo Rewards is a loyalty marketing platform that fosters customer engagement leading to increased retention and revenues for businesses. Kangaroo offers a very rich collection of powerful features which makes it one of the most competitive solutions on the market today.
For Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Kangaroo Rewards lets retailers increase sales by offering customers point rewards, dollar discounts, gifts and other perks by shopping more, spending more and participating more in promotional campaigns. You can also increase engagement through tiered rewards that unlock exclusive discounts and privileges.
Tailor your messaging this Black Friday and Cyber Monday to meet the changing world of retail
The consumer landscape is constantly evolving, and the key to staying competitive is to continuously adapt to the needs of modern shoppers.
While looking at historical data can certainly be helpful, you also need to be open keep an eye to the future and stay nimble enough to pivot quickly.
According to Steven Lord, Marketing Manager at Digital Next, it’s time to change the way you look at selling.
“Historical data will tell you that Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas are going to go gangbusters. However, insights will tell you that consumers have been spending big all year round, are facing financial insecurity and singular large spending occasions are not set to be as frequently adopted this time around.”
He argues that you need to take it a step further than just data. “The idea of activating data-driven campaigns over the next two months is fools gold. It’s the season to be insight-driven, not data-driven,” says Lord.
While it’s true that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are inflated sales days, this year it should also be a moment to connect with customers and their needs, create a community and find your role in making their lives better.
Want to see how Lightspeed can help you this holiday season? Contact our retail experts today for a personalized consultation.
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