The days around Black Friday and Cyber Monday are getting more and more pivotal times for e-commerce businesses. The largest e-commerce empires realize almost half of their revenues in these days, which is rather the result of the time and resources dedicated to plan out series of perfect marketing campaigns for the BF/CM period. Small retailers usually have limited resources, they are more likely to apply simple, ‘un-tailored’ campaign strategies taken ‘off-the-shelves’. They tend to run sloppy marketing campaigns executed without timing or thrown together in the last minutes. Nevertheless, to plan out perfect BF/CM marketing campaigns approaching the giants’ efficacy is not impossible for SME- sized e-retailers.

Black Friday traffic in the preceding 5 days

Hannah Stewart, Head of Marketing at Yieldify collected some statistics from SME-sized retailers: the majority of these stores see a steady rise from the day that is 4 days prior to Black Friday. This moderated growth  (3-5 % / day) of store visits lasts until Grey Thursday the preceding day before BF. Source: Yieldify

Acknowledging these special behavioral patterns the necessity of one key action point rises: to let the customers know that your store is running a BF/CM campaign. Landing on your page how will they be aware that they are given a BF-deal and not just an everyday one?

Black Friday Traffic 24 hours

Within the 24 hours of Black Friday, the number of shoppers draws a double peak with a mild slope in the work hours. Source: Yieldify

The Power of Unavailability: Black Friday / Cyber Monday mindset is always stronger than Discount Mindset

Retailers usually launch storewide or partial discounts in the autumnal season and expect customers to discern Black Friday offers from other discount campaigns. Retailers still tend to apply simply ‘discount price’ or ‘sale price’ wording instead of  ‘Black Friday Price’.

Why should you separate these 2 layers?

The word ‘discount’ has a connotation of a period spanning over weeks. Your customers feel a balmy comfort: ‘I have plenty of time to find the best deals’. ‘Black Friday’ – unlike the ‘discount’  triggers more impulsive and boisterous emotions in the customers. Because of the urgency arising from its name: ‘You have only one day’ – even if the BF- discount lasts more days.

Set up a 3-layered pricing scheme! It doesn’t last more than a few minutes of coding. This way you let your customers know that you do extra efforts to create something special for them. A layer of super deals beyond your already-discounted items. Even if the price of the BF-layer is the same as the already-discounted layer, the customers get more inclined to buy. They will honour your duplicated efforts.

Setting Up Your Timeline

If your BF/CM business vision supersedes your normal e-commerce implementation projects, set up a standalone timeline or calendar. Hence you will not lose the sight of the holiday season prominence, and you can nail all the important tasks down in time. Additionally, you can track your team more effectively, especially if you have hired an extra workforce for the high season. 

In the hassle of the lead-up to BF/CM e-commerce businesses often overburden themselves. There are plenty of timed tasks: fine-tuning of special offers, piling up new products to launch, discount management or coupon deployment.

Shopify Plus Expert Doug Crowe suggests to set up a dedicated Gantt Chart  for Black Friday projects. Share it with your team members, and you can supervise easier the assigned and delegated tasks.

Hiring extra staff: Stock Acquisition and Inventory 

These are typical roles getting under extra pressure. If you don’t prepare with inventory, you will lose the chances of leveraging the benefits of the most thriving days.

Rather than having the exact number of goods predicted to be sold in the holiday season, experts suppose to aim 10-15 % above these estimations. Taking in account that average BF- and CM days attract 3-4 times more sales than the average November days, the safest is to be prepared with an acquisition volume and workforce demand for a “40-50 – day long” month.

If you prepare for the BF/CM you will save yourself from negative user experiences that might end in dwindling brand engagement among your customers.

Hiring extra staff: Stock management

This role ensuring proper product packaging and labeling will see a growth of 300-400% after Grey Thursday. These rush days will keep until the next Tuesday – Wednesday. To keep delivery errors apart and maintain your customers’ trust demands a very high attention. The products purchased in your store you can pack and label in-house or you can outsource these tasks even for as short time as 1-2 months:  fulfillment providers offer item storing, labeling, packing and the delivery management. If your orders are limited to the surrounding regions or countries, having a fulfillment provider is strongly recommended and reasonable because they are able to bargain more favorable prices with haulers.

If you refrain from contracting with fulfillment centers for this special period and you use your existing workforce, you have to consider that stock management role will see a 50 % higher workforce-demand in November in verifying the orders, calling in and packing the products and notifying the shippers.

Hiring extra staff: Customer Support

In the pre – BF/CM period, before purchasing, your visitors will flood you with questions about the discounted products. The more difference they can see between the normal and the discounted price the more inquisitive they will be. You can expect their high level of miscrediting your offer, and their informal efforts to build ‘under-the-counter’ trust with your store, to get closer to the privilege to get the product prior to others. These situations may be attached to more compound conversational schemes that are still difficult to set up with the help of chatbots. Customers’ needs for human assistance to understand the offer better will see a spiking demand in this critical 4-6 days.

Your customer support employees will experience even higher strain in the post BF/CM period when they have to deal with customer complaints and returned products. Be careful with the staff recruited with hasty job listings! These employees handling customer inquiries and complaints have to be patient and have to use a positive approach.

Discounted Prices are Not Omnipotent and Not the Only Solutions

E-Stores often consider Black Friday / Cyber Monday strategy narrow-mindedly and communication revolves around discounts only.

Looking beyond focusing on dropped prices, start to sketch ideas about other values and experiences! Which one of them can you deliver for your customers before, during and after BF? A few jumping off places for ideation:

-Extending return periods for those products that are bought during the BF-time frame

-Providing longer warranty periods

-Launching pre-BF price promises or offering faster shipping for the group of BF- items

Instead of mincing your resources in pushing down all the prices get a few really long-term customers. They can turn to be your brand advocates with multiplied customer lifetime values. Blending huge value propositions with tiny discounts will introduce a new wave of high quality- and eager customers.

Black Friday Price promises at Andertons

Pre-Black Friday Price Promises. Source: Andertons

Massive Revenue Growth within 1-2 months with Recommendation Engines

BF period offers a perfect time to give recommendation engines a go in your store! You can capture loads of customer behaviors with the increased traffic and eliminate cold start problem. See the example of Pamutlabor, a custom print T-Shirt e-shop implemented Yuspify recommendation engines in November. During that year Yuspify’s widgets on Product and Cart pages already resulted in 10% of the total sales, with bringing $59 through every 1,000 recommendations and 59x ROI.

Pamutlabor Product Page

Yuspify’s recommendations on Pamutlabor