Ahh, spring – a time for rebirth, warmth, and peak season preparation.
If you paused on that last note, good! Though the busiest shopping time of the year is still eight months away, starting to plan now isn’t as silly as it may sound. Consumers love a good deal, which is why Cyber Week (Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday) sales skyrocketed to $281 billion last year.
This year, sales are expected to be even higher, with many shoppers prepping for their spending in October or earlier. It’s essential to get organized early to make sure you’re ahead of your customers. And there’s no better time than now.
If you’re still questioning our logic behind planning this early in the year, we’ve got seven reasons to convince you otherwise, along with helpful tips to keep your e-commerce name in the peak season shopping game come November.
Reasons to Start Preparing Now
1. Inventory Management
When not done properly, inventory management can be a real pain in the be-to-the-hind, especially during peak season. Skip the headache and forecast your demand sooner than later. Look over sales from previous years to distinguish which items are likely to be popular this year, and review your margins to see what you’ll need to source. This is especially helpful if you’re working with multiple suppliers, or if you’ve been dealing with delays (alongside the rest of us) over the last few years.
From here, you can order your products well ahead of time. Not only will this better equip you to meet your customers’ demands, but will also spare them from paying higher prices at a time when everyone is after the same stuff. Once you have this all in place, you can stock your inventory and optimize your fulfillment workflows.
Tip: Make sure to evaluate your warehouse strategy to establish how you’ll store high-demand inventory so it’s easy to access once the selling season hits.
2. Determining Discounts
Cyber Week is all about scoring good deals. To appeal to shoppers without feeling like you’re giving away the goods for free, you’ll need to find that magical number that makes everyone happy.
The most common way to offer a Black Friday, Cyber Monday (BCFM) deal is through a price reduction. The approach you take to offering this discount is up to you. Take time now to figure out which works best for both your e-commerce business and your customers.
Here are some options to consider besides a straight-forward sale:
- Giving a certain percentage off a total lump sum (e.g. 30% off when you spend $150 or more)
- Buy One, Get One (BOGO) for select items you want off your stock shelves
- Bundle sales that provide a larger discount when you buy more of a product
- Freebies, which give shoppers a complimentary smaller item with the purchase of a big ticket item
- Offering free shipping or lowering the spending threshold you normally require to be eligible for free shipping
Tip: Once you’ve decided what your offers are going to be, you can begin planning for how and where to display them on your website, such as on your homepage, as a countdown banner, or through personalized product recommendations!
3. Creating Marketing Campaigns
To attract customers and generate sales, a well-executed peak season marketing campaign is a must. The more time you have to plan this out, the greater the chances for a higher return come peak season.
A well-rounded campaign can include everything from designing ads to creating email campaigns to developing social media content. Before jumping in head first, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is our main target audience, and what do they want most?
- What products are our customers demanding?
- What social channels do they use?
- What type of content will engage our audience most?
- Where are the best places to invest our marketing dollars?
- What messages do we want to communicate most?
- What channels can we promote our campaigns on?
Reaching the right answers for your e-commerce business takes well-thought strategies, and that can take some much-needed time. Once you’ve come up with a plan, you can allocate your ad spend early before BFCM advertising costs begin to surge.
Email Marketing Campaigns
According to CampaignMonitor, over 116 million email campaigns are sent on Black Friday. That’s an astronomical number! Planning your email marketing campaign well in advance will give you time to craft the perfect message to your customers that sets your brand apart from the others filling their inbox.
When deciding on what to include in your email campaign, remember, the more personalized, the better. Consumers love when they receive information that’s customized to their specific needs and interests. When done well, personalized email marketing can increase click-through rates back to your website by as much as 139 percent. Just remember, your customers’ inboxes are going to be flooded with Cyber Week offers with generic discount headlines and subject lines that all sound the same. Make yours stand out by adding some special touches, like a wishlist item of the recipient or a detail about what’s inside the email. The results could generate as much as 760% more in revenue.
Tip: Use the next few months to grow your email marketing list. The more people you can send out early BFCM emails to, the greater the chances for a higher peak season return. Acquiring this information is as simple as prominent messages inviting customers to subscribe to a newsletter or sign up for a loyalty program to earn rewards and receive exclusive offers.
4. Technology Upgrades
Today’s technology is smarter than ever and can take your online revenue to a whole other level. It’s important to review your existing tech stack and look for any gaps that could affect your Cyber Week sales and customer experiences.
While there are lots of great tools out there, we’ve shortlisted a few of the essentials that can make managing your peak season sales easier than ever.
Analytical tools provide valuable insights into inherent sales patterns and trends. Machine learning technology can provide you with real-time data on the types of products or services each customer will be most interested in purchasing during peak season. This can help you make smarter decisions based on real-time data.
If you haven’t got an automation device in place yet, jump on it. This handy tool streamlines processes by handling mundane tasks that can eat up a lot of labour, such as sending out order updates to customers. The result is higher employee efficiency and productivity, which is critical during the busy selling season.
A consumer-facing inventory management system can help you keep up with inventory levels, provide customers with precise product availability details, and ensure appropriate shipment and delivery times. It can track order history and inventory levels to prevent stock-outs.
Once you’ve got all your technology decided upon, make sure to give yourself enough time to evaluate, test, and integrate them all.
Tip: Find a reliable logistics partner to help smooth out any kinks in the fulfillment process and take some of the stress off your hands so you can focus on other aspects of the business during the selling season.
5. Website Optimization
To manage the influx of traffic visiting your website over BFCM, make sure the following are tried and tested for optimal performance:
Online shoppers don’t stick around for pages to load—especially during Cyber Week. In fact, 53% will leave a site if it takes longer than three seconds.
A slow site means less) sales. To avoid this, make sure every area of your website is optimized for the best customer experience possible. Run speed tests on both your homepage, product pages and checkout to make sure everything is moving at optimal speed.
User Experience (UX)
A poorly designed UX is an easy way to turn shoppers off from your site. Take the next few months to refine your site’s navigation by employing responsive design, getting the highest quality product images you can, and displaying clear CTAs for easy links to product pages and checkout. Personalization platforms (like Granify, for example) can also help create a seamless experience that’s curated to the shopper from the moment they land on your site.
Over 80% of shoppers will leave your site—and all the items in their cart—if checkout is too complicated or time-consuming. To avoid abandoned carts, a seamless checkout experience is essential. Use this extra time to figure out ways to reduce the number of steps your peak-season shoppers will have to take to complete their purchases. This should include everything from reduced input fields to guest checkout to providing multiple payment options.
Last year, 79% of shoppers used their mobile devices to shop for BFCM deals. Chances are that this year will see similar numbers (if not higher). When optimizing your site, make sure to factor in every component mentioned above for mobile users. You can find a complete list of suggestions in our article, How to Give Customers The Best Mobile App Experience including ways to personalize your pages for increased engagement.
Tip: Take some time to plan your product descriptions and recommendations. A strong description taps into a buyer’s emotions. Many Cyber Week shoppers aren’t sure what they want beyond a great deal. By figuring out ways to amp up your persuasive copy early—like urgency messaging such as “Selling Fast!” or “Today Only!”—you’ll be well-prepared to nudge your customers in the right direction once peak season rolls around. And you’ll want to confirm your descriptions align with search engines, so your site’s visitors can find what they’re looking for as easily as possible.
6. Social Media
Whether it’s through organic posts and stories, paid advertisements, influencer partnerships, or a little of everything, social media is a surefire way to gain the attention of more potential customers and encourage them to visit your website come peak season (and hopefully, before).
If you’re able, spend some time reviewing last year's social media metrics, such as new followers, website visits, and conversions. If you’re a newcomer to e-commerce, research other brands’ social pages from last year to see what got the most engagement (and what didn’t), along with some popular hashtags that gained traction. You can use this info to figure out the best plan to attach to your social pages and then spend the next few months crafting your social content, finding potential influence partnerships, and/or buying ad space on the social sites that attract your target audiences.
Tip: Take this time to also identify which channels are your most lucrative. Did shoppers buy off your IG page last peak season than anywhere else? Do Tik Tok ads deliver a great return rate? Is Google bringing more people to your site? By knowing exactly where your main revenue funnels are coming from, you’ll be able to utilize your channel to earn more money during the selling season.
7. Customer Service
Consumer demands are up, and those expectations will only get higher during the selling season. Right now, 86% of online shoppers leave a brand after only two bad customer experiences. Customer inquiries can skyrocket during peak season, so making sure you’re well-equipped is imperative. To appease the needs of your customers (and save your sanity), start working on a customer support strategy that includes online support as well as back-of-house.
For online support, begin by identifying any parts of the sales process you can automate. Chatbots are a wonderful tool that can support customers during off-hour times when regular support staff aren’t available. You’ll also want to review your FAQs and update any that may need tweaking for Cyber Week.
Offline, extra hands equate to less pressure and workload. Take this time to figure out which areas may require more staff, then give yourself lots of time to recruit, train, and onboard them properly to ensure a smooth transition come peak season.
Tip: Look at last year’s sales to determine how much staff will be required to manage inventory, fulfill orders, and handle incoming questions from customers.
The Early Bird Gets the Worm
Or in this case, the revenue success. Cyber Week should never be looked at as a sprint that occurs over a few days in November. Use the tips we’ve provided as a starting point to plan now, so you can start seeing more traffic before the big weekend hits this fall. Remember, the earlier you start, the better prepared you’ll be for any mishaps along the way. More importantly, the better the shopping experience for your customers. And the happier they are, the greater the results for your peak season revenue.
For more insights from Cyber Week, check out Granify’s 2022 Peak Season Performance Review.
Take Your E-Commerce Revenue to New Peaks
Whether it’s selling season or any other time of the year, Granify's experts and technology know exactly how to optimize conversions and delight customers. Our innovative personalization AI tools can support your peak season preparation creating a wealth of recommendation assets that you’ll have in your arsenal when the sales hit.
Schedule a chat with us today to find out more about how we can help you all year long.
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