This year, Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) promises to be a different kind of shopping season. With major retailers closing their physical stores for the Thanksgiving weekend, and more of the shopping experience moving online, this holiday season will certainly be like no other. But one thing holds true: experience only makes you stronger when it comes to navigating the new normal of BFCM.
If there’s one group of people who are highly experienced in the realm of ecommerce and Shopify, it’s Shopify Partners; the professionals providing services in the Shopify Experts Marketplace and building apps for the Shopify App Store.
We reached out to three of these experts to get their insights and advice on how to best prepare for Black Friday Cyber Monday 2020. Here’s what they had to say.
Get help preparing for Black Friday Cyber Monday
You can hire experienced Shopify Experts who can help you get your store ready for BFCM. Find them in the Shopify Experts Marketplace. Or, add additional tools and functionality to your store for BFCM with apps from the Shopify App Store.
1. Delight your customers
It’s a strange time around the world, and people are stressed. Stand out to your customers this holiday season by taking the extra time to connect with your customers, says Bita Shahian, founder of Shopify Plus ecommerce agency Exhibea.
“People are looking for connection and inspiration,” Bita explains.
To build that sense of connection with your customers, don’t be afraid to show shoppers that they’re buying from a real person, and not a faceless entity. One way of doing this, Bita suggests, is to leverage the different surfaces customers interact with to share messages of gratitude.
“Incorporating a note of gratitude to your customers in Shopify’s order confirmation emails is a great way to thank your customers for continuing to consider your store when they want a little indulgence,” Bita explains. “Or get creative with new ways to reach and delight your customers by incorporating meaningful copy on different areas of your Shopify storefront.”
While you probably don’t need to remind anyone that we’re in the middle of a pandemic—it’s unlikely they forgot—taking a bit of extra time to consider the messages and copy you’re sharing with buyers can create a sense of camaraderie and connection. Below are some resources to help guide your copywriting:9 Ways to Write Product Descriptions that Inform and Persuade Your Customers Are These 6 Common Copywriting Mistakes Costing You Sales?
Thanking your customers, too, for shopping with you this year can go a long way. While Bita suggests a note of gratitude by email, there are other ways to show your thanks, too: a gift or sample in each order, post-purchase discounts, and handwritten thank-you notes are all great ideas.How you show your thanks will depend on your unique business, but the benefits of doing so will extend beyond the holidays.
How you show your thanks will depend on your unique business, but the benefits of doing so will extend beyond the holidays, and go a long way to creating a sense of loyalty and trust with your brand. Check out the following blog posts for some ideas on how to show gratitude to your customers:From Ideas to Action: 6 Creative Ways to Show Customers You Care The ROI of Reciprocity: 9 Ideas for Delivering Meaningful (and Cost-Effective) Customer Delight
2. Make sure your store is fast
Speed is vitally important to your conversion rate—the faster your store loads, the more sales you’re likely to make. Ensuring that everything is running quickly and smoothly is paramount, according to web developer and digital agency founder Celso White.The faster your store loads, the more sales you’re likely to make.
“Given COVID-19 and the amount of online shopping we expect to see this BFCM, I recommend focusing your efforts on site optimization,” Celso says. “Evaluate what is essential and how you can improve performance on key pages. If you know the pages that will be visited the most, then focus your efforts there first.”
One of the places to start is with your site’s visuals.
“Optimize your images,” says Celso. “Make sure they’re lazy loaded, so they only load when the user sees them. This will improve the initial page load and make your site feel zippy to users. Images should also be loaded at the right size for each device.”
Optimizing your images means reducing their file size without sacrificing quality, so they load faster and still look great, no matter what device your customer is using to view your site. You can learn more about image optimization on our blog, or search for apps that can make the process a little easier.
Bita from Exhibea agrees with the importance of speed, cautioning that apps and unnecessary scripts can slow down your site if you’re not careful.
“If you're looking to improve your site speed as we approach the BFCM season, collaborate with a developer to remove unessential apps before BFCM and every quarter,” she suggests. “Before installing a new app, ensure it’s vital to your business and growth goals.”
The online store speed report in your admin is a great first step to determine how your store performs, and how that compares to other similar stores. Learn more about the online store speed report in our Help Center.
Shopify experts are another option to speed up your store’s performance. You can connect with these trusted professionals in the Shopify Experts Marketplace, and find help with BFCM-specific selling strategies.
3. Make it easy for customers to find the products they want
Sharon Goldstein, CEO of LimeSpot, a Shopify Plus certified personalization app, points out that the easier it is for your customers to find exactly what they’re looking for, the better.
“Customers have lots of online options and you don’t want to bet on them putting in the hard work of discovering products they may love on your site,” Sharon says. “Consumers are conditioned by marketplaces to expect a personalized experience.”
Giving customers a personalized experience means understanding what they need at every stage of the buyer journey. Sharon recommends focusing on these specific areas:Top-of-funnel visibility for your products: “Make sure that your full product catalog is in Google Shopping, and that your email cadence with customers includes inspiration emails with personalized recommendations,” Sharon says. Learn more about getting set up with Google Shopping, and optimize your site so customers can easily find you through a Google search. See below for resources to get started with email marketing. Product discoverability: “Use personalization to put the right products in front of the right customers so they move from browser to buyer in fewer clicks,” Sharon explains. This can be done with personalization apps from the Shopify App Store, so you’re targeting customers as they click through your store.
Celso agrees that removing friction between your customer and the products they want is key.Removing friction between your customer and the products they want is key.
“It's especially important during BFCM to structure your site so it's clear, quick to navigate, and has very little friction in the purchase experience,” he says. “It's the time to optimize your site’s user experience and design. By working on one aspect, you assist in the optimization of the others. Don't be afraid to reduce the clutter.”
Check out the following blog posts for tips and pointers on how to optimize your site’s user experience and design:Building a Beautiful Online Store: 15 Design Experts Share Their Tips and Advice How to Improve Your Ecommerce Store's User Experience (and Pay Less to Sell More) How to Optimize Your Product Pages For More Sales: 11 Expert-Recommended Tips
The cleaner the user experience and easier it is for customers to find the right item, the higher your chances of making a sale.
For help with discoverability and optimization, check out the sales and conversion optimization category on the Shopify App Store. Depending on your use case, these apps can help you target your efforts to your audience and increase your order volume.
4. Consider your timelines
With BFCM fast approaching, it’s important to remember your timelines and get started early.
“Customers will start their shopping early by doing research,” says Sharon of LimeSpot. “Buying experiences will start on Amazon, in Google, or via emails, so you want to be highly visible on at least the latter two. And given financial realities, customers are likely to do more research up front to optimize their BFCM deals.”
With research starting early, it’s important that customers can find your store easily. We’ve already touched on optimizing your online store for Google search, but Sharon’s advice also highlights the importance of getting your email marketing in order leading up to BFCM. If you’re new to email marketing, these articles are a good place to start:Learn Email Marketing: Everything from List Building to Advanced Lifecycle Automation How to Build an Email List that Builds Your Ecommerce Business 7 Automated Email Campaigns That Win Customers and Keep Them Coming Back
In preparing for BFCM, Celso agrees that managing timelines is key, specifically from a technological perspective.
“If you've been working on a new and more complex feature or upgrade to your site, then I recommend holding off on releasing it until after BFCM,” he suggests. “You want to limit the number of things that can go wrong in the code, especially when dealing with high traffic.”
That means that now’s not the time to introduce big changes—instead, you want to spend this time testing your store, to be sure your customers won’t run into any trouble when shopping. You can do so by placing a test order, which will help you be sure your checkout, order processing, inventory, shipping, email notifications, and taxes are all working correctly.Now’s not the time to introduce big changes—instead, you want to spend this time testing your store, to be sure your customers won’t run into any trouble when shopping.
Start your outreach to customers early and hold on making major changes to your site, so you can be best prepared to catch those early holiday shoppers.
Expert advice on getting prepared
Commerce is ever-changing, and this year, it’s changing faster than ever. This advice from experienced Shopify experts will help you get ready for it, by taking the time to delight your customers, speed up your store, optimize the shopping experience, and get started early. Doing so will help you get ready for a different kind of shopping season.