As a retailer, Black Friday is likely to be one of your top sales periods. It’s a great opportunity to bring in new customers, delight existing ones, sell lots of products and make plenty of money.
But when that’s over and you’re left with empty shelves and full tills, it’s not time to rest on your laurels.
Once Black Friday – the retail event that will have a seismic impact on your business – has ended, you’ll need to get ready for the sales aftershock that is Cyber Monday.
Although Cyber Monday may not seem as big as Black Friday, it’s still a key date in the retail sales calendar.
Shopping habits of consumers are changing at a rapid pace, with online sales a key part of that.
And retail is on the terms of the shopper more than ever before. So you simply can’t afford to neglect your online presence as a business.
Read on below to find out how you can prepare your retail business to make the most of Cyber Monday.
The true value of Cyber Monday
A question that all retailers should be asking themselves is: “Is Cyber Monday really worth it?” Because, truth be told, a lot goes into a successful Cyber Monday, including marketing, discounts, payments, packing and shipping.
To answer this, you needs to look at Cyber Monday historically.
The size and value of this, now concrete, yearly event has continued to grow year on year for the past decade, according to behavioural marketing company SaleCycle.
And while there is a slither of truth in the idea that big retailers benefit more from this event than their smaller counterparts, it doesn’t mean the latter can’t capitalise.
An effectively communicated sale will always be likely to attract customers, especially if they are already in ‘buying mode’, no matter the size of the business.
However, Cyber Monday has historically been geared toward electronics and technology products, with some of the most sought-after items being video game consoles, cameras and smart speakers.
Give this a thought when thinking about your product offerings. A small independent technology store is more likely to benefit from Cyber Monday than, say, a knitting supplies outlet.
The changing habits of consumers
The success of Cyber Monday can be somewhat attributed to the change in consumer shopping habits and expectations.
People searching online for retail discounts from the comfort of their own homes rather than queuing in busy shops is a convenient option.
And with the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the lockdown measures that will be in place at this key sales time for 2020, online shopping will be a major focus this year.
Even more so than ever, the purchasing experience has to be on the customer’s terms – and businesses need to adapt. Especially in peak sales periods.
But when it comes to focusing on customers who are buying products online, it can be all too easy to lose them (and crucial sales) if they don’t complete the sales process and make a payment.
Research from Baymard found that 23% of cart abandonment stems from a long or complex payment process, with a further 34% abandoning carts due to being forced to create an account.
Cart abandonment can be a problem for online retailers – if you fail to have a smooth payment experience, you could not only lose a sale but a customer too.
This is especially true during Cyber Monday, as your site may not be the last stop for your customer.
They won’t want to spend time on a convoluted payment process. They will simply want the transaction to go through so they can carry on with their shopping spree.
It’s important to understand what the future of payment technology means for you, so you can prepare your business for busy periods such as Cyber Monday (and Black Friday), and throughout the course of the year.
Five tips to help you prepare for Cyber Monday
So, how can you get ready for Cyber Monday? Here are five tips to get your business set for what will hopefully be a busy day of selling.
1. Check your website is stable
Website stability should be one of your key considerations when it comes to putting on a Cyber Monday sale.
Is your website modern and sleek? Can it accommodate and cope with increased and concentrated traffic?
These are vital components to ensure your website isn’t underperforming (or even crashing) at crucial times.
2. Ensure pages are loading well
Make sure your pages are loading at an acceptable speed and that increased traffic isn’t putting the stability of the site at risk. There are a number of free online tools to help you analyse your website performance.
However, if you’re going to be making optimisations, you should always ask your web developer to step in and make the necessary tweaks.
3. Be aware of cart abandonment
Once your customers have reached the checkout process, it is imperative that things go as smoothly as possible. Cart abandonment is the killer of sales – and a poor payment process will lead to just that.
Your business should be using a payment provider with a proven track record of reliability and minimal downtime.
And if something does go wrong, they should be able to offer you 24/7 customer service.
4. Use the right payment provider
If your current payment provider isn’t offering the levels of service that you need, it’s important you switch to one that can as soon as possible.
To minimise disruption, you should choose a payment provider that is ‘acquirer agnostic’, so there’s no need to change your merchant accounts. This will help to keep business running as smoothly as possible.
5. Check your stock levels
If you haven’t got enough stock, you could end up with disappointed customers and lost potential in sales.
However, too much stock will mean you’ve overspent – and you’re left with money tied up in unwanted goods.
Conclusion on preparing for Cyber Monday
Black Friday is an earthquake of a retail date, sending shockwaves across the industry with highly concentrated sales volumes across most retail businesses.
This is aided by organically occurring consumer hype and the desire to find lots of bargains.
However, remember to take advantage of the aftershock that is Cyber Monday. By doing so, you can look to increase sales even further.
And by putting the right steps in place, you should end up with lots of sales and plenty of happy customers.
Editor’s note: This article was first published in November 2019 and has been updated for relevance.