Is Your eShop Ready for Black Friday? Here’s Your Checklist!

Angie manages Cazoomi's Operations. She is an avid traveler, dog lover, and start-up entrepreneur with investments in multiple APAC startups. 12 minute read

Eshop Ready for Black Friday

eCommerce is performing exceptionally well despite initial worries that the global health crisis would stifle its growth projections.

The ongoing pandemic might have caught many eShop owners totally unaware in 2020 but their quick thinking and reaction to this unprecedented economic disruption gave most digital sellers the much-needed lifeline to remain afloat.

Did I say lifeline? I meant perfect conditions. The eCommerce industry didn’t just grow; it boomed. It soared.

By the close of 2021, the global eCommerce industry is expected to register a 27.6 percent growth, compared to an initial 16.5% decrease that was projected mid-pandemic, with sales topping a staggering $4 trillion.

Retail eCommerce Sales Worldwide 2019-2024 Trillions change of total retail sales

Image Source: eMarketer

But even with the impressive run, eCommerce players still have some work ahead of them. Industry growth spurs are excellent — but they also come with a lot of competition. If you want to maintain or advance your position in the market, you can’t afford to miss any opportunities.

In the eCommerce space, nothing says selling opportunity like the holiday season. When the leaves turn brown and the air gets chillier, everyone suddenly gets more generous — to themselves and to their loved ones. This is how you know the holiday season is coming.

Speaking of seasons, Black Friday – the biggest retail sales day in the United States and Europe – is fast approaching and you know what that means, right?

Popularly regarded as the first day of the Christmas shopping season – coming hot on the heels of Thanksgiving – Black Friday is the day when most people go on a shopping spree.

Traditionally or at least pre-pandemic, people would flock to their favorite brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday and shop like crazy. However, in 202o the unthinkable happened. Physical shopping was no longer tenable due to obvious reasons. This meant that almost all Black Friday shopping would be done online.

While this new development caught many by surprise with most consumers unsure on how exactly to go about it, it also presented eCommerce stores with an opportunity to boost their sales since they’d now be selling to a much wider audience.

Just as Black Friday was super important to physical stores, it is equally if not more important to eCommerce shops, a trend that started before the pandemic but has been accelerated by it. It is now one of the most important dates in the eCommerce calendar and if for whatever reason you don’t prepare for it adequately, your annual sales could take a massive hit.

But before we dig deeper into why and how you should prepare for this extremely important season, let’s briefly take a quick look at some key insights that will help you to understand why Black Friday is crucial for the growth of your eShop.

Black Friday Statistics for eCommerce

Clearly, numbers don’t lie and if recent trends and statistics are anything to go by, Black Friday remains one of the most important growth-oriented shopping seasons in the eCommerce space. Taking this season lightly can be catastrophic for any eCommerce outlet regardless of how long it’s been in business or how popular the brand is. Some seasons can’t simply be ignored.

1. In 2019, over 93.2 million people in the U.S. shopped online during Black Friday compared to 84.2 million people who shopped in-store. This was largely driven by free shipping, which was the biggest reason for shoppers (49 percent compared to 42 percent the previous year) who made a purchase they had no intention of buying in the first place.

2. In the same year, Black Friday was popular among a much younger demographic attracting 58 percent of Gen Z consumers and 54 percent of millennials followed closely by 39 percent of Gen X shoppers and 37 percent of baby boomers.

58% of traffic during Black Friday 2019 came from smartphones while traffic from desktop computers accounted for 37%. Online purchases are indeed a growing trend since they are far more convenient. In the time it takes you to drive to a shopping mall and browse through one physical store, you can do online shopping in at least 20 different stores!

Retail Shopping insights

Image Source: Adobe

3. In 2020, online sales on Black Friday rose to about 22 percent year-on-year to hit $9 billion, which made Black Friday the second largest shopping day in U.S. history.

Mobile commerce on black friday

Image History: FinancesOnline

4. Conversion rates via social media increased by 175 percent in total messages about Black Friday in 2020, which was a significant rise compared to 2019. Total engagements on Black Friday messages also surged remarkably, registering a 968.5 percent increase year on year, which ultimately led to an increase in web traffic, sales, and, most importantly, revenue.

5. Seventy percent of consumers are not planning on returning to physical stores to do their Black Friday shopping, which explains why eCommerce sales will be going through the roof and most importantly why eCommerce stores need to align their sales and marketing strategies with this new trend.

6. Over 116 million emails were sent on Black Friday more than any other single day, including Cyber Monday (106 million) and Thanksgiving (96 million). That’s not all, Black Friday also accounted for the highest number of open rates and links clicked, which goes to show just how popular the day is.

7. Forty percent of shoppers made online purchases during the 2019 Black Friday season. This trend was largely driven by most of the eShop’s friendly delivery options, click-and-collect orders or pick-up in-store.

8. Amazon’s 2019 Black Friday sales increased by 20 percent and accounted for over 54 percent of all sales on that iconic shopping holiday.

How to Prepare For Black Friday 2021 [Checklist]

This year’s Black Friday will be slightly different from last year’s, bearing in mind that most pandemic restrictions have been lifted in most countries and a good number of retailers have reopened their brick-and-mortar shops.

However, even with the lifting of the movement restrictions and the full resumption of physical stores, most consumers will probably not head down to their favorite shops this Black Friday and will prefer to shop online.

With this in mind, eShop owners need to be fully prepared to accommodate a surge in online orders because unlike a physical store, one small slip up and it could be game over for your eCommerce store.

So, to ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, we have rounded up a list of critical things you need to do to make sure that your Black Friday is as profitable as possible.

Build a Comprehensive Email List

This is probably where you need to start mostly because you will run an email marketing campaign ahead of the big day. By now, you probably have a decent email list that you’ve been using to reach out to your customers.

However, to make Black Friday a big success, you need to double your efforts and beef up your email list so that you can reach as many online shoppers as possible. You can do this by offering an incentive for subscribing. People are more likely to sign up if they get a reward in exchange for their information. An incentive can include a discount code or a gift card.

Be Active on Social Media

Social platforms are a great space for generating buzz and building excitement around Black Friday. Shoppers are always excited as this special day approaches, which is the number one reason why you need to keep them fully and constantly engaged.

Social media is also super effective in terms of getting valuable insights that you then use to strengthen your Black Friday strategy. Your social media team should always listen to the customers’ needs and keep them in mind when coming up with Black Friday offers.

To make sure that you are on top of your social media game this Black Friday, ensure that you optimize your accounts by using a clear profile picture and a branded cover photo. You also need to include keywords in the bio that are relevant to your eShop.

Don’t forget to also include relevant links and make sure they are working. One other super important thing you need is to leverage the shopping feature that’s available on most social platforms. Instagram and Facebook allow online stores to connect to the platforms to enable customers to buy directly from their respective feeds.

Other handy tips include using popular Black Friday hashtags on all related posts, encouraging and reusing user-generated content, publishing posts to build consistency, mix it up with other non-Black Friday-related posts to avoid being too salesy or annoying your followers, and consider using Facebook ads to reach your targeted audience.

Work With Micro-Influencers

Micro-influencers are increasingly becoming a popular digital marketing tactic due to their effectiveness in reaching a much smaller by equally important key demographic. Micro-influencers also have a higher engagement rate, which is ideal for your Black Friday online campaign.

This tactic is also affordable, especially for eShops with limited digital marketing budgets making it cost-effective in the long run. People want to engage with influencers who care about products they promote, which makes them ideal for promoting your Black Friday products and offers.

Optimize Your Website for Optimal Performance

Your website’s overall performance is central to the success of your Black Friday digital campaign. The last thing you need is a website that’s performing dismally as it will cost you sales as well as customers and prospects. Most of your online shopping traffic will be from your website.

Your customers ideally expect your website to load at a reasonable speed so that they come jump right in and look at what you have without being kept waiting for longer than they need to. For the best conversion rate, a website should ideally take between 0 to four seconds to load.

To get you started on ensuring that your eCommerce website loads faster, you need to look at critical elements such as JavaScript Timing, ETags and expired headers, and image sizes.

Research site speed hurting everyones revenue

Image Source: Portent

Refine Your Customer Service

Black Friday is no ordinary online shopping day. This is the day that online shoppers come to eCommerce shops with super high expectations.

This is the primary reason why your customer service needs to be at its best to ensure that all your online customers are attended to and their queries addressed satisfactorily. To avoid any mishaps, you should consider hiring extra help to handle the sales as well as the questions from the customers. Integrating a live chat feature in your eCommerce website also comes highly recommended as it’s super-efficient in dealing with frequently asked questions.

Optimize for Mobile

With global mobile penetration almost hitting 90 percent, most customers are likely to make their Black Friday online purchases via their smartphones. If your eCommerce website is not fully optimized for mobile then your online sales will suffer a massive blow.

Number of smartphone users

Image Source: BankMyCell

A mobile-optimized eCommerce website makes it easy for customers to shop online and while on the go. Smartphones offer the much-needed shopping convenience for customers with busy lifestyles. Having a mobile-optimized eCommerce website will ultimately boost the overall customer experience this Black Friday.

Integrate Your Mission-Critical Software

To button everything up, you need a solution that will allow you to target relevant audience members better while ensuring that you keep engaging with them even after Black Friday. During the Black Friday craze, you can’t afford to waste time manually importing data from your ERP to your email automation solution. You need to be prepared to communicate effectively at the push of a button.

Your team will already be working extra hard — this is when mistakes happen. And you really can’t afford them during the peak season. This is why you need to rely on an integration solution that can automate most of your tasks and do it error-free.

Integration will also come in handy in helping you and your sales and marketing team to understand your customers’ and your prospects’ buying patterns so that you can formulate and execute a relevant digital campaign for the Black Friday season. SyncApps eCommerce integration solutions offer exactly that.

Integrate Shopify to Constant Contact

With tried-and-tested integration solutions such as Mailchimp for NetSuite and Shopify for Constant Contact, you can keep up with the pace of your customers converting on multiple channels at once and also keep track of your eCommerce products to see which ones doing exceptionally well and those that need to be boosted. With these solutions, you will be able to engage your prospects and existing clients in real-time.

But what happens after Black Friday? You still need to make sales, right? Well, integration is your safest bet here too.

It can help you identify emerging trends that will help you design better and more engaging digital campaigns in the future. With the data gathered during peak season, you can keep your sales up even when other stores scramble for clients.

Want to try it out? Do it for free on SyncApps. You don’t even need a credit card to get started, so what have you got to lose? Start here and let’s make this Black Friday a record-breaking one!