On 26th November, it is time for Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year and the start of holiday shopping. Black Friday is part of Black Week, or Cyber Week, as it’s also called. Black week generally starts on the Monday before Black Friday, 22nd November, and extends to Cyber Monday, 29th November this year. Some stores also have sales that start even earlier, and/or end later than Cyber Monday.
We can’t be certain about much these days, but one thing is for sure: the buying behaviour in the future will rely heavily on e-commerce. In this guide, we are looking at what you need to do, to get your e-commerce store ready for Black Friday.
Black Friday statistics
Last year was a record year in many ways:
- The Black Friday online shopping increased by 22% year-on-year, up to $9 billion globally.
- 49% of consumers shop online more now than they did pre-COVID-19.
- 100 million consumers shopped online, an increase of 8% year-on-year.
- 52% of shoppers took advantage of early deals, often starting in October.
- The average conversion rate was up by 3.8% in 2020, compared to 2019.
10 tips How to prepare your e-commerce for Black Friday:
1. Offer several payment methods
The more payment options you offer, the more likely you are to appeal to a wider audience. The easier you make it for people to pay you, the more likely it is that you will have more money coming in.
Did you know that 12% of online shoppers cancelled their last purchase because it wasn’t possible to pay in the way they wanted to?
Swish is one of the fastest-growing payment methods in Sweden, and for the ages 18-40 Swish is the favoured online payment method. Swish currently has 7 million users and saw growth of 100% in 2020.
Through Klarna, a Swedish payment and shopping service for e-commerce sites, online businesses and stores increased their gross sales by 46% to $56 billion in 2020.
The popular checkout alternative that Klarna is offering, was connecting to Swish this summer. That way, e-commerce consumers can now choose to Swish via Klarna Checkout or in Klarna’s app when they order their products online.
PayPal is a global online payment business allowing users to make payments and money transfers online; the service is often considered the leader of the online and mobile payment market. According to Statista, there are 403 million active PayPal users across the world right now in 2021.
Stripe supports payments online and in-person from customers around the world. If you currently have a brick and mortar store, you can add a Stripe POS system in addition to the gateway on your e-commerce store. This way you can remain consistent across both marketplaces.
Make sure your checkout process is as good as it can be. Black Friday shoppers are changeable, they have so many stores to select from and a limited amount of time. They will leave your e-commerce store if your checkout isn’t running smoothly.
2. Meet customers’ delivery expectations
It’s important to have an easy way to deliver & return packages. If it’s not simple enough, it will probably not result in a purchase in the first place.
Different shipping alternatives
According to Postnord, home deliveries are more popular than ever. More and more people choose to have their package delivered directly to their door, instead of picking it up at a parcel agent.
Click and collect/store pickup has nevertheless grown a lot during the pandemic. This is a perfect option for retailers that have both a physical store and an online store. Customers can easily place their orders online, to then be able to pick up the package at the store a few hours later.
Communicate your shipping policies
During the Black Friday sales, it’s important to be honest with the customers when it comes to the deliveries of the products they have ordered. Be clear, and communicate your shipping rates and methods to your customers. Provide a clear shipping policy which ensures your customer know how long the delivery time can be during the present circumstances.
Everyone needs to take responsibility for creating more sustainable development in e-commerce.
Take your responsibility seriously, and use the Earth’s resources responsibly. Offer your customers a sustainable delivery option by having sustainable transport options.
Production and delivery are more important for consumers from a sustainability perspective. Many customers want better insight into the production chain. Offer your customers full traceability in the supply chain. Customers can then see where everything is manufactured, produced and where it comes from.
This is to meet consumers’ demands and ever-increasing expectations.
3. Don’t forget the mobile
It is predicted that, by the end of 2021, mobile devices will make up almost 73% of the total e-commerce sales globally.
So, one thing is for sure, your e-commerce store must be working for smartphones and tablets, and hence have a mobile-friendly layout.
Over the past years, mobile apps have been increasing in popularity, and have given great results. Companies with a mobile app have a big advantage compared to companies that don’t have an app.
Mobile apps convert 157% more than a mobile web session. If you don’t have an app, it’s extremely important that your website is optimized for mobile devices alongside laptops.
Even mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and PayPal have increased. This is a safe way for consumers to checkout when shopping from a mobile retail app.
What is a Mobile Wallet, and how does it work?
A mobile wallet is a type of virtual wallet that stores payment card details. It’s accessible through an app installed on a mobile device. Mobile wallets allow users to make in-store payments without having to carry a physical wallet or to make online purchases safe, and easy.
Mobile is the most common platform to start searching on, this is also where the customer journey begins in many cases.
According to Simicart:
- 48% of buyers use a mobile device to start searching with a search engine.
- 58% of Google searches are done via a mobile device. In 2016 it was 34%.
- 65% of clicks on paid Google search results come from a mobile device.
4. Use Reviews to boost sales this Black Friday
Online shoppers research before making a purchase, by gathering information about the product they want to buy. Reading users’ experiences, product reviews and ratings is a part of the purchase decision.
Ask for feedback, and take advantage of it
Did you know that...
- 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- Only 12% of consumers ignore reviews before making a purchase.
- 85% of consumers say they read up to 10 reviews before making their decision.
- 50 or more reviews per product can mean a 4-5% increase in the conversion rate.
If you ask for feedback for a product and show that you publish it when it is received, you will get more honest feedback from your customers. Both good and bad. When you get feedback, you can act on it and improve. You can choose: no feedback and fewer sales, or learn from the feedback and sell more.
Socialise with your customers
A company with only positive reviews doesn’t feel genuine; customers will suspect reviews are fake if there are no negative ones.
Make sure that you have a response strategy that can handle all reviews. Both positive and negative. Dissatisfied, angry, customers are more likely to write a review than happy, satisfied customers.
One thing that is for sure is that bad reviews are not necessarily bad for business. If a retailer responds well, it often leads to purchases by hesitant buyers. It is important to know how to turn a negative review into an opportunity.
Use reviews in offline marketing
Remember that your online reputation is associated with your offline reputation. You can’t afford to ignore either of them.
When packaging a product, slip in a flyer or a card showing your reputation. Take the opportunity to ask for feedback at the same time; this shows a willingness to improve and do better.
5. Create a Black Friday Influencer campaign
Influencers can boost your brand, increase sales and reach out directly to your target audience in a way that has never been possible before. Your e-commerce conversion rate is dependent on this.
To try to track everything, and control your merchandising in real-time, is almost impossible. Your merchandising needs to be highly automated, and react to this influence. The more relevant your products are, the more you can increase your sales.
How to start with influencer marketing
Before you start working with influencer marketing, you need to think clearly.
Who are you as a brand, and what value do you create? If it’s unclear, you will not be able to clarify it to influencers, and they will certainly not be able to pass on that message to their followers.
Who is your target group? The better you can describe them, the easier it will be for you to understand what kind of influencers you should work with to reach your target group.
What is the goal of the campaign? Is it to increase sales of a particular product, or increase the number of clicks to your online store? Or something completely different? The structure of the collaboration and the selections of influencers, as well as the evaluation of the results, will depend on these factors.
Increase conversions with influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is an effective tool for those who want to increase conversion. Use unique links for each influencer and discounts codes for limited offers. This way you can easily measure how much has been sold thanks to that influencer during Black Friday.
Get influencers involved in the creation process
For one and a half years, Nelly.com has had a collaboration with one of Sweden’s biggest influencers, Bianca Ingrosso. During this collaboration, a certain number of collections that Bianca has been involved in designing have been released, which has led to a great profit for Nelly.com.
During the first collection they did together, 80% of the collection sold out immediately.
Just a few weeks ago, the latest collection was released. Due to the high pressure, the site crashed within five minutes. At most, there were 30 thousand people in the queue, waiting to check out the collection. So make sure you have a sufficient server capacity for the expected visitors.
6. Use social commerce
Combining e-commerce with social media is very powerful. It enables consumers to explore and find products that they usually are not looking for on a fashion e-commerce site.
60% of consumers use social media to research new products and services.
See it - click it - buy it
Currently, social media platforms that allow social commerce consist of, among others, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and TikTok.
They make it possible for customers to see a product on the app, hit the “buy now” button, and then complete the purchase right there, still in the app. Pinterest doesn’t work the same way, where the customers are redirected to an e-commerce site, and can therefore not complete the purchase in the app.
Who are the shoppers?
It’s a fact that consumer habits have shifted to social media. Generation Z (born 1995-2012) are more or less born with a phone in hand, or other mobile device, and have a completely different approach to social media and digitisation in general, compared to previous generations.
- 60% of Generation Z in the US use Instagram to discover new brands, products and services.
- 48% of Americans aged 18-34 have purchased via social media.
Social commerce growth
Social commerce is expected to account for 4.3% of all retail e-commerce sales in the US in 2021, according to Business Insider. Emarketer forecasts that social commerce will rise from $34.8% billion to $36.09 billion in 2021.
Today, the category that remains the largest for social commerce is fashion, which includes apparel and accessories.
In other words, social commerce is an e-commerce trend that is here to stay, and it will be very powerful in the future.
7. Email marketing campaign
Make use of your customers’ behaviour on your site to send them more relevant email product recommendations that can lift your click-through rate, conversion rate, and revenue.
Personalise your newsletters
Boost the relevance by including personalised email product recommendations based on each user’s individual behaviour, such as the products they have viewed or purchased.
Include recommendations in your transactional emails
Spur further engagement by adding a block of attractive product recommendations in your ‘order confirmation’ and ‘abandoned basket’ emails.
To get the freshest set of personalised products possible, generate the recommendations when the user opens the email, rather than when the email was sent.
8. Plan ahead to ensure Black Friday and Cyber Monday success
Many companies wait too long to start thinking about one of the most important online sales of the year. By consistently engaging with your target audience throughout the year, you can keep your brand top of mind when your customers are deciding which Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to take advantage of.
Customers start looking for deals in October
Start early: shoppers start looking and planning for deals in October. Get the word about your Black Friday deals out to your customers as early in the season as you can by planning ahead. The sooner they know about your offers, the better positioned they will be to take advantage of them. And the more revenue you will bring in.
Plan and write a checklist.
- What discounts should you have?
- When should prices be set?
- When should the text/email be sent to customers?
Test and ensure your website is ready
Make sure your site is ready for Black Friday by checking for potential faults. Check if the site can handle the traffic expected during the whole event. We are proud to say that Elevate Black Week last year supported a total of almost 1 billion sessions without incident. Our customers hit some new, fantastic sales records! A total of almost 4.4 million purchases were made, and over 15 million searches were handled.
9. Focus on the customer experience
As e-commerce grows, so do the expectations and demands. To be able to develop and have the growth needed to run an e-commerce site, you need to offer your customers the best possible customer experience. Make sure that your site is ready for everything.
Offering the best possible customer experience will be crucial to whether you and your e-commerce offering will perform during Black Friday.
A good customer experience is necessary
Good customer service is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s essential for good sales.
Make sure your customer service can handle all the questions about your products or services that your customers may have.
Chatbots are a useful service for online shoppers. They can - for example - help to inform customers when products are out of stock and suggest alternatives. They can also be used to inform customers about delivery, order status or even suggest products based on what the customer is looking for.
Another benefit of using chatbots in e-commerce is the functionality to remind customers about their abandoned shopping carts. Some customers don’t abandon their carts on purpose but if that happens, a chatbot is a good way to inform them of their shopping cart status and help them complete the purchase.
E-commerce chatbots statistics
68% of respondents are more likely to buy from a business that offers convenient communications.
According to IBM, chatbots can reduce customer service costs by 30%.
Research from Juniper found that the retail sector might benefit most from chatbot technology, estimating that by 2023 over 70% of chatbots accessed will be retail-based. Juniper cited benefits such as cost savings, up-selling, marketing and cart recovery as major retailer chatbot ‘push’ factors.
10. Automate your online merchandising
Be more productive and save time by automating your online merchandising. Make sure you don’t market sold-out products on the homepage at any time.
A manual merchandising approach won’t do it
Online merchandising, carried out manually, can never deliver the sales growth required to justify retailers’ huge investment in driving quality traffic to their online stores. It has too many limitations.
There are simply not enough merchandisers out there, nor hours in the day, to effectively analyse the huge amounts of customer and product data required to optimise product exposure in real-time across catalogues running to tens of thousands of products.
What you need is a system powered by AI and machine learning and predictive analytics based on customer behavioural data, context and crowd wisdom. It presents each shopper with the most relevant selection of products, ordered in an optimum way to maximise sales.
Catching e-commerce trends
One of the most common complaints from online retailers is about a lack of agility. Many lose out on vital sales, and longer-term brand loyalty through a failure to react quickly to trends, especially micro-trends driven by social media. It can take at least 24 hours to respond - that is simply too late.
Merchandising powered by AI and machine learning technologies change the game by automating product assortment and sort order decisions. Trends are spotted in real-time, and everything from searchand recommendations to promotional panels instantly push trending products to the foreground, and the system adapts just as quickly once trends fizzle out.
Humans and machines doing what they’re best at
Of course, the route to retail success is not solely one of more sales, it’s also about driving cost and resource efficiency. For online retailers still relying on manual merchandising, that is particularly difficult, since scaling up teams to do more of the same is expensive.
In truth, much of the day-to-day merchandising job is one of number crunching - a task that is ideally suited to computers. AI and automation completely change the nature of merchandising. The day-to-day decisions are in the hands of computers - reacting to massive amounts of customer data in real-time.
That leaves merchandisers to focus where their skills can have the greatest impact - in making higher level, strategic and creative decisions.