Black Friday will soon be upon us, and ecommerce retailers across the USA will be doing their best to get the most from their Black Friday marketing and fulfillment strategies. Failure to do so at such a competitive time can lead to lost revenue and smaller profits.
At Veeqo, we know what a challenge this period is for retailers. So we’ve got together with our partners and other experts to pull together a list of expert tips to help you make sure you are battle-ready for Black Friday. Covering everything from getting your warehouse ready to how to make sure you are going to get the most out of your PPC strategies.
Each tip comes with a video from the expert, should you rather watch than listen.
Use this contents list to jump to the right section for you.
Marketing Strategy Tips
Fulfillment & Shipping tips
Perfecting your marketing strategy for Black Friday / Cyber Monday
Take a holistic marketing approach
This tip is from Nathan Abbot, Head of Growth at Underwaterpistol. Nathan focuses on being as holistic as possible in your marketing strategies. This means making sure each of your individual channels are working together;
Email offers the chance for brands to hone in on loyalty, creating traction for Black Friday and for future holidays.
SMS notifications are a fantastic way of leveraging further value from those your contacts as well, if you’re getting sign-ups during this period.
In terms of social media, you want to be creating a sense of urgency closer to the event, but you can also create an early buzz around your offers and promotions. Whatever tactic you choose, such as sneak peeks or deals, social media is one of the best ways you can turn casual shoppers into Black Friday buyers.
Brands looking to incorporate influencers in their strategy could look at the role exclusivity can play in their offers.
When you are looking into working with influencers, remember that people look towards influencers for inspiration. This, plus the added time sensitivity that comes with Black Friday, is what can end up delivering such huge value from using influencers to promote your brand.
Allowing influencers to lead the way on creative forms a more authentic connection to your brand which could stand out in what is often such a market saturated with over-the-top CTA heavy promotions.
When it comes to SEO, it’s important that your technical SEO fundamentals are reviewed and on point. This means:
Page speeds must be Optimized
Error pages must be resolved
On-page SEO issues are fixed
Using historical keyword data to take quick wins from Optimized meta tags and descriptions
Setting yourself up for multichannel success
This tip will be key for any multichannel ecommerce retailer. It comes from Trevor Ginn from Vendlab. Vendlab is an Amazon and international marketplace agency, specializing in helping ecommerce retailers navigate the online world.
Trevor’s advice is to;
Make sure you have your basics right
Make sure your promotions are correct and products are live on all of your channels and that your customer service and fulfillment teams are ready for the influx of orders.
Check individual marketplaces are optimized
Most marketplaces like eBay and Amazon have their own promotions, so make sure you are taking advantage of these. Make sure your prices are right on Amazon so you are maximizing your Buy Box, which will normally account for about 80% of sales.
On eBay, a lot of sales come from promoted listings. So consider promoting at least your major products.
Don’t forget international sales
Black Friday isn’t just going on in the US. So make sure your international channels are up-to-date and the prices are all correct.
Optimising your site For conversions
This tip is from Dan Sheard, CEO of Shopify Plus Partner agency Velstar, and it’s about conversion rate Optimisation. A topic always at the front of any ecommerce marketer’s mind.
Dan has broken this down into an easy-to-follow four-part checklist.
Get Prepared Early
Early preparation is a theme of all the tips when it comes to Black Friday, and it’s also important when optimising your website. In this instance, you should make sure all of your discounts, promotions, campaign assets, graphics, banners and any dev changes are prepared as early as possible. Your in-house team will be extremely busy during this period and you don’t want to miss out on any sales due to being under-prepared.
Optimize your store
This means optimising everything from a site speed to a user journey point of view. Traffic will probably spike during this period and you don’t want to annoy customers by having slow loading pages or an unclear journey.
Build anticipation for your promotions across all channels well in advance. This way you can have customers ready to buy on the day.
Test, test, test!
You should test your store well in advance, including all your offers and anything else related to Black Friday. Black Friday is the last time you want to be dealing with technical issues.
Get your paid media campaigns ready for Black Friday
In this video, Chris Tate, Digital Marketing Director at AYKO, has given eCommerce retailers a great to-do list to make sure their paid media campaigns are battle-ready for Black Friday. In fact, this tip actually contains five separate tips!
Ensure your ads are well prepared in advance
one of the biggest reasons why ads get disapproved in Google is that they are not uploaded in time
Ensure you are using all available ad extensions and features
Whether that's site links, extensions, or countdown features, make sure that you're showcasing all your best products deals. Using these features can really help brands build some urgency in their ads.
Ensure that you're using audiences
If you have got RLSA or remarketing lists set up in search or display campaigns, make sure you re-engage with these people. You can do this through a different campaign or a different ad campaign at a later date to capture demand. Remember, people start to search for Black Friday-related keywords well before they want to buy.
Ensure you're using automated features such as scripts and also automated rules
For example, if you're going into a weekend make sure that you have scripts to let you know if campaigns are having performance issues.
Ensure that your budgets and bidding strategies are set up
This could mean adjusting targets on your business strategies from a ROAS, CPA, or CPL perspective. You will also need to make sure that your budgets are large enough to capture available demand for Black Friday/ Cyber Monday.
Going big and doubling down on your offers!
This is our first of four tips from Louis Thompson, Marketing Director at Shopify Plus Partner agency EastsideCo. This tip focuses on getting the most out of your Black Friday / Cyber Monday offers and Promotions.
Black Friday is all about huge offers to attract people to buy your brand. Once you understand your cost per acquisition, then be prepared to go big on that discount. Ideally, it should be profitable to you, but make sure the discount is as attractive as possible.
Doubling down means, if you’re spending money to acquire customers and it’s going well you don’t want to limit your success by your advertising budget. Your spend should be set by how successful your campaigns are and it should keep growing until it reaches a saturation point. So, making sure you’ve got enough to continue doubling down and acquiring customers will help maximize your successes.
Use your owned audiences first
Our second tip from Louis Thompson of EastSideCO focuses on generating value from your owned audience. While Black Friday is a great way to generate a new audience, it’s also a time to be generating more revenue from your owned audience. This could be from your email marketing campaigns, for example, use what is termed as ‘rented’ data through Facebook and Instagram.
You could, for instance, use your email marketing to communicate with your own audience first. Possibly giving them pre-access to an offer or maybe even giving them a better offer than is publicly available. This is a great way to offer a loyalty discount to existing customers.
Your own data is often the cheapest way to drive revenue through any period, so you must make the most out of it for a succesful Black Friday/Cyber Monday.
Start your marketing campaigns early
Our third tip from Louis is all about starting early. Everyone knows that on Black Friday all of your competitors are going to be pushing out huge offers and they're going to be flooding the market with advertising messaging.
If you're starting your advertising about your Black Friday offers on the day itself, then you're already going to be behind the curve. This means you need to understand what your offer is as soon as possible. Then you can start communicating your offer to your audience in the lead-up to the big day. You could be sending them a series of messages through your general campaigns, or you might be putting messages in the footer of all your emails.
Whatever you are planning to do, the earlier you start the better.
Get ready to turn Black Friday buyers into long term customers
Our final tip from Louis is about what happens after the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend.
Brands understandably focus on the huge discounts and driving as much revenue as possible on Black Friday. But you should also have a clearly documented strategy in place, before Black Friday, that gives you the best chance possible to turn these newly acquired customers into lifetime customers.
You could do that by segmenting them out in your email marketing and sending them specific communications to get them to better understand your brand. Or you could remarket to them through Facebook or Instagram. There are a host of ways you can go about messaging this audience, but the key is that your communications are not just about discounts but are about getting them to understand your brand and why they should buy from you.
Reviewing Your Tech Stack
Mark Darmon, Senior Partnerships Manager at Veeqo, discusses the importance of reviewing your tech stack in preparation for Black Friday.
Whether you're an e-commerce veteran or a brand new business just starting out, you've probably picked apps as and when you've needed specific functionality for your business.
What many people don’t then do is take a moment to peel back the layers and look at how the different apps that you have can integrate together. This could be through custom integrations you build yourself or through native integrations.
Another important exercise would be to look back to the app store and see what products exist now that didn’t when you looked previously. Or perhaps you overlooked some because you didn’t feel you needed them at the time, but now they could replace the job that three or four of your current apps are doing.
Ultimately if you're using a single app that can do multiple things you're reducing the need to pay for those other apps.
We see in the inventory and fulfillment industry how important it is to have a centralized system so that you aren’t waiting for data about orders etc to go through multiple systems if you want to keep in control of your inventory. For example, if you don’t have this type of system it could easily lead to a situation where customers are ordering items that have already been sold, but your system hasn’t been updated in time. This leads to oversold products and customer service headaches.
Making sure your ecommerce fulfillment operations are ready for the Black Friday/Cyber Monday surge
Organize your warehouse
As businesses grow, they are naturally more concerned about selling products than about warehouse optimization. This leads to products being placed in less than optimal places in the warehouse or picking room.
During a peak period, like Black Friday/Cyber Monday, it will be much more efficient if all the best-selling products are as close as possible to the packing stations. This means that your pickers have less walking time when picking orders. Also, as popular items are closer together, pickers can pick items a lot more quickly.
Organizing your warehouse takes a lot of effort and the best time to do this is probably over a weekend or to close the business for a day. It also means running some sales reports to ascertain what your best-selling items are, and then planning and mapping where they should go based on this information. You should also factor in any seasonal products, as you may want to put them closer to your packing station even if they are not the best sellers throughout the year.
This is worth the effort as it will cut your picking and packing time by minutes if not hours.
Barcode Your Products
Matt’s next tip is to barcode your products. Three percent of all orders ecommerce sent out contain the wrong item, a problem that can be ameliorated by barcoding your products.
It’s really easy for the wrong item to be sent out if you have similar products (think of a medium T-Shirt sitting next to a large but otherwize identical T-Shirt). However, a few small letters on a barcode can differentiate these items easily. In the chaos of Black Friday this can make a big difference to the accuracy of your picking process.
Three percent may not sound that much. But when you think of all the subsequent issues you have to deal with such as customers phoning up, organising, returns and sending out the right time the problem is more substantial. Especially if it is happening during a peak period like Black Friday.
If all your products are barcoded, there's a couple of ways then you can pretty much eliminate mispicks:
You can scan the products before they are packed and shipped out.
You can pick digitally using barcode scanners so that you know only the right items are getting picked.
There is an investment here in terms of time and money. But the benefit it can have to your fulfillment operations and to your customer reviews can make it worth the effort and expense. You can learn more about barcoding your inventory in this guide.
Giving your team incentives to work more shifts rather than hiring temporary staff
Matt’s final tip is around the hiring, or not, of temporary warehouse staff over the Black Friday period. Companies often hire temporary staff to deal with the extra workload in your warehouse during Black Friday. On one hand, this makes a lot of sense, but it’s worth considering asking your existing staff if they're interested in taking some extra shifts.
This is because they:
know your products better than a new hire
know the warehouse better than a new hire
know your software better than a new hire
This makes them much more efficient and productive than a temporary staff member. And, if you don’t have to hire temporary staff, you don’t have to spend time training them.
Do an inventory count
This next tip comes from Veeqo’s own Daanyaal Shakur, who is an Account Executive. Daanyaal’s tip to prepare for Black Friday/ Cyber Monday is to make sure you are in control of your inventory by doing an inventory count.
Daanyaal spends a lot of his time talking to ecommerce retailers, and one thing a lot of them have in common is that they often don’t have a complete idea of what inventory they currently have to hand.
This will be a real problem come Black Friday, leading to underselling and overselling. Turning sales and profits into unhappy customers and headaches.
That’s why Daanyaal recommends taking the time to do an inventory count. You could do this the ‘traditional’ manual way or, if you are looking for a more advanced and less time-consuming method, you could use a digital scanner with barcodes.
Making Sure Your Shipping Operations are Black Friday Ready
YouTThese tips are provided by Mark Jackson, Head of Client Support at Pro Carrier. An expert in ecommerce shipping, Mark has provided five things to do to make sure you can handle the extra order volume over Black Friday - Cyber Monday.
Speak to your carrier to get t their updated transit times. Ensure you have the correct stock levels and, if necessary, update your returns policy.
Speak to your carriers
You should get in touch with your carriers and suppliers, providing them with accurate forecasting information.
Check you have the capacity to cope with the peak
You should check your servers can cope with the expected demand and that your warehouse operations are robust enough to cope
Check your operations meet the demand your promotions will place on them
If you are running a promotion give yourself time to cope with the resulting demand. This can be making sure you have the correct resources, stock levels, and packaging in place to cope with your online orders.
If you have found these tips useful, you may also be interested in our recent ‘Are you Battle Ready for Black Friday’ webinar. Or you may want to check out our recent blog posts ‘The Post-Covid Drop & Other Challenges to Ecommerce,' 'What's really causing bad reviews' and ‘What is an Ecommerce ERP and Do You Need One?’