Black Friday/Cyber Monday is the busiest and most lucrative time of year for most online retailers. In 2021, Cyber Week (from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday) drove a total of $33.9 billion in online spending.
But brands can't just sit back and wait for the sales to roll in as BFCM generates fierce competition. Retailers must do everything they can to stand apart from retail giants like Walmart and Amazon.
If you're a retailer that thinks deep discounts and short-term strategies will work, think again. There are smarter ways to deliver strong digital experiences that engage and convert. Here is a checklist of five shopper experience essentials you need to win Black Friday.
1. Personalize the experience to engage and convert
A generic, one-size-fits-all shopping experience doesn't cut it anymore. Customers want hyper-relevant product recommendations that fit their personal preferences. It's the only way to engage and convert this Black Friday.
For repeat customers, personalization is especially key. They have already told the merchant their preferences based on past buying patterns and expect to be served messages and offers that match. According to Forrester, Target used data from the 2021 holiday season to better understand its customers and personalize its Circle loyalty program offers. This resulted in an $8 to $10 lift in promotional basket size compared to mass offers.
Other merchants can learn from Target. Just because you have a great deal on men's dress pants doesn't mean you should push it on everyone. Instead, send shoppers offers for items that they've shown interest in previously.
2. Communicate offers clearly through merchandising
The purpose of online merchandising is simple: get the right product in front of the right shopper at the right time. Merchants must display and arrange products in a way that makes sense for their customers. They must also clearly communicate their offers to ensure that messaging and campaigns stay up to date.
Even before Black Friday, shoppers will be on the lookout for the best deals. Whether merchants run a 50% site-wide discount, or a series of category flash sales over the Black Friday weekend, they must make sure that all assets, from homepage banners to product page badges, are eye-catching and aligned with their overall marketing strategy.
3. Test in advance with secret shoppers
Black Friday is a pivotal shopping holiday with lots of online traffic. Merchants must make sure to not lose any potential sales due to glitches or technical issues.
To confidently prepare for the holidays, retailers must test, test, and test again. First, they should conduct a full site audit. This reveals any gaps in the user experience and pinpoints improvements to make, including fixing any common website issues. After that, e-commerce teams can ask friends or family members to browse the site and purchase a list of products as "secret shoppers." They may discover challenges in the user experience that can be addressed before it's too late.
4. Aim for long-term loyalty
Long-term loyalty is worth so much more than an annual spike in sales. Merchants need to focus on how to convert Black Friday shoppers into returning customers who keep coming back.
To optimize the customer lifetime value of first-time buyers, merchants can consider:
Providing an incentive at checkout to join a loyalty program or subscriber list.
Sharing a discount code that can be redeemed against a subsequent order.
Sending a follow-up email with recommendations based on their first purchase.
Creating a seamless shopping experience that's easy and enjoyable drives long-lasting loyalty from the holidays and beyond.
5. Create a seamless checkout process
The checkout process is one of the biggest pain points of the e-commerce shopper experience. This is critical, especially given that the average e-commerce shopping cart abandonment rate is a whopping 70%. During BFCM, the feelings of urgency and annoyance that comes from a slow checkout process are heightened. Any unnecessary steps, forms, or fields annoy customers and lower conversion.
Merchants can streamline the checkout experience by supporting autofill, being up front about shipping fees and other additional charges, making customer support accessible, and accepting various payment options. An easy checkout results in easy conversions that reduce shopper frustration and drive down bounce rates.
If someone does leave the checkout process, merchants have an opportunity to remind the customer about their abandoned cart. That's where email comes in. And, not just any email, but an email with personalized recommendations. Using data from shopper behavior, merchants can deliver tailored recommendations to shoppers that drive them to complete the transaction.
Black Friday is fast approaching which means now is the time for e-commerce merchants to optimize sites for shoppers. Once these five shopper experience essentials are in place, retailers can prep online stores and launch BFCM campaigns that beat the competition, increase sales and boost sales this holiday season and beyond.