BFCM 101: How to Prepare Your Business
There's no denying it – Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) is the most important weekend of the year for eCommerce brands. Preparing now (even if it’s getting close to D-day) is the key to closing out the year with a Q4 for the books, especially with major supply chain issues, being 2 years into a pandemic, and high expectations from shoppers - many of whom have recently embraced online shopping.
One thing is certain this year: consumers are ready to shop, and you need to be ready for them. Here are some tips on how to prepare your business for BFCM.
Take Note of Inventory
With the incredibly delayed supply chain, your business' biggest problem might not be sales, but what you can sell. If you're low stock on your best-sellers, you may not want to include them in your BFCM promo. Or, if you do include them as part of your promo, you can opt for timed or limited sales (see more below) so that customers have to act fast to get the deals.
It's also important to speak to your 3PL to ensure that they'll be able to handle the influx of sales and to confirm their rates. Some fulfilment houses increase their rates during this time, so find out in order to calculate those additional costs into your margins.
Discounts & Incentives
After reviewing your margins (by including those higher 3PL rates!), you can begin to evaluate the type of discount or incentive you'd like to offer existing and potential customers. Do you want to focus on using BFCM to acquire new customers with deep discounts, or do you want to focus on customer retention by offering something special to them? Be sure to consider this when deciding on the discount value.
Keep in mind, you don’t need to offer the same discounts to everyone! By leveraging your email list and segmenting it into your regular and VIP customers, you can send different discounts to different groups of customers.
Note: no matter what the segment, the BFCM incentive should be greater than the offerings you would typically offer.
After deciding if your offer will be based around customer acquisition, retention, or for profit, you can choose the type of promo you will focus on. Some of the options include:
- Timed sales – this includes sales that only last for a specific amount of time, like 12AM Friday - 12AM Saturday, 9AM - 9PM, and so on.
- Limited sale – this is a type of sale where every hour different items are discounted, or different discounts are unlocked at different times of the day. For example, at 10AM, you’ll receive $10 off, at 11AM, $11 off, and so on.
- Free gifts – giving customers a free gift with purchase is a great incentive for BFCM shoppers if this is not something you normally do. As well, the value of the free gift has to feel substantial, as, again, expectations for discounts are high. Ensure the free gift is neutral, not gender or themed-specific, so that as many customers as possible will be inclined to receive it.
- Extended sales – extended Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are becoming much more common – some brands even extend their BFCM promotions to last a full week before or after the actual weekend! By doing this, you’ll be able to gain more customers and essentially, more profits.
- Charitable donations – another popular Black Friday trend is offering to donate a portion or all of your profits to a charitable cause. This attracts buyers who are more socially conscious and aren't huge fans of the BFCM trend.
Make a List (& Check It Twice)
A BFCM promotion doesn’t do a brand any good if no one knows the promotion exists! Planning, strategy, and implementing your marketing tasks is paramount to getting it right.
Here are some marketing tasks that should be worked into your project plan to launch your Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale:
- Adding discount codes or offers in advance into your eCommerce platform
- If you use Shopify, the codes can be scheduled to start at a certain date and time
- Designing and uploading a promotional banner depicting the details of the sale, and announcement bar (if you have one) on the homepage (and/or other pages) of your website to promote your sales
- If you're on Shopify Plus, you can pre-schedule your BFCM theme to automatically launch at a scheduled date and time, so that you don't have to be up at 12am to launch a sale!
- Planning, writing, and designing graphics for social media posts promoting your sales and scheduling them beforehand (if possible)
- Writing, designing, developing, and scheduling email campaigns to promote the sale
- Plan to send at least 2, if not 3 emails. One to announce the sale, and one to remind people to get the sale while it's still available. You can also send additional emails to let your customers know the sale is coming, or that, SURPRISE, you're extending the sale longer!
The most important part of making a BFCM checklist is to ensure you and your team get all your ducks in a row, so there's no last minute rushing before the big weekend.
Strategize, Plan, and Prepare For Paid Efforts
Running BFCM paid efforts will ensure you are getting the most out of your BFCM sale.
Planning ahead of time allows you to thoroughly think through who you're going to target, what you're going to offer them, and how to make the most of the website traffic you're going to bring in to get them to convert.
CPMs will get much higher during this time of the year, so it's also important to plan out your ad spend with this in mind. Note that with platforms like Facebook/IG, it takes time for the algorithm to ramp up, so using a lifetime budget will force the algorithm to use and optimize your spend better than a daily budget.
Customer Service Efforts
It’s likely that you’ll receive an influx of customer inquiries during and after the sale, so be sure to prepare your customer service team with the answers to popular questions and keep in touch about any issues that arise to decrease response times and encourage conversions. Here are a few tips to help your team in advance:
- Get all team members on board – ensure all of your customer service associates are up to date about what the BFCM sale is going to be.
- Predict the most frequent questions or problems – predict the most frequent questions around your BFCM promo and prepare macros in your customer service tools.
- If you're using Gorgias, you can easily add macros to keep ticket times low with the influx of inquiries.
- Update internal processes and shortcuts – focus on refreshing your team on general brand voice, the products and features offered, and other FAQs so that they’re not overwhelmed when ticket influx is higher than normal.
- Plan for high volume times – while BFCM is a free-for-all, knowing your current high volume days/times will allow you to properly resource your customer service team for an even greater influx, especially after the sale ends. This will also help you prepare for when the inevitable "WISMO" (Where is my order?) or lost shipment questions come in, as these will also increase after a successful BFCM sales weekend.
- Utilizing a live chat – use chat to answer customer questions while improving conversion rates to accurately determine sales based on current data and website visitor information during BFCM.
So how are those for some tips? Hopefully, you’ve already started planning for Black Friday/Cyber Monday. If not, there’s no better time than right now.
This article was written by Jess Grossman, contributing writer to DTCX and Founder & CEO of In Social.