The phenomenon of Black Friday is an American-born tradition in which thousands of shoppers wait hours in the cold November streets for their favourite stores to officially open for the mega sales of Christmas shopping season. Although I’ve never participated in Black Friday, I am familiar with reports of people getting trampled under ravenous sale-seeking crowds at Walmart. Back before Christmas decorations and merchandise went up as early as October, the day after Thanksgiving was the typical opening of Christmas shopping, and all its merry atmosphere was unleashed only then.
However, the tradition of Black Friday has leaked over to the UK in the last few years, with Amazon bringing Black Friday week officially to Brits in 2011, and other stores following suit shortly after. The emphasis on the big Thanksgiving family holiday is of course missing, and therefore the expectations for Black Friday are less extreme, but spending in the UK is generally just as intense.
UK shoppers are changing the way they shop because of the growth of ecommerce convenience, and analysts expect to see a 15% rise in ecommerce revenues over 2012. Cyber Monday alone is expected to bring in $2.27 billion in revenue in the US, which would be a record daily revenue if it’s reached. In the UK predictions vary for which day will see the most clicks, but it is generally agreed that Cyber Monday (Dec. 2nd) will be the big taker this year.
Other aspects of Black Friday are the beautiful window displays and scavenger hunts for sales in physical stores, and UK high streets around Christmas are still the best places for retail theatre. But with theatre come tourists, and with tourists comes the delicate dance of side-stepping window-browsing bobbleheads all whilst holding five gift boxes and keeping your coat wrapped tightly. So naturally, online shopping has become a very convenient option for those who want to avoid the crowds, weather and queues.
Now one thing that really sets Cyber Monday apart in the US and Europe is that it’s not the only big shopping day of the Christmas season. This year, in addition to Cyber Monday, the following Monday - called Green or Mega Monday - is also a big spending day for online shoppers. While December 2nd may be the biggest shopping day, and it also coincides with many shoppers’ last paycheck before the holidays, the following Monday will be another big spending day.
Here is a list of best practices for ecommerce retailers on Cyber Monday:
6 Best Practices for Cyber Monday and Mega - Green Monday
- Make sure your servers can handle up to a 20% spike in traffic for these days. Holiday shopping online is about efficiency and avoiding queues, so don’t look to your website’s visitors for patience - you won’t get any at this time of year. If your website does become overloaded, each minute of downtime can add up to $5, 600! Think about that one for a moment.
- Make sure to take all privacy and cyber security precautions, and keep your eyes peeled during Black Friday week. Isolating outliers in crowd behaviour will ensure that you keep your customers and their information secure.
- Make sure that if you run your store on the cloud, you have your cloud provider’s customer service rep on speed dial. You may not have to use it, but seeing as 86% of ecommerce businesses experienced 1 or 2 instances of downtime in 2012, this could be a saving factor for you this Christmas.
- Alternatively, make sure your customers have your number available too. If you haven’t optimised your contact information all around your site, then this is definitely the time to take this quick and easy step towards increasing your customer service satisfaction, consumer trust, and inevitably, revenue. Christmas is also a time when many non-savvy shoppers may enter your online store, so make sure they feel safe and secure in your website’s customer service.
- Make sure to incentivise your customers with offers that include discounts, coupons, free shipping etc. and optimise the visibility of your promotions with PPC, social media and mobile optimised sites. Online shoppers this year are driven by convenience and bargain hunting, so maximise your campaign’s effectiveness around keywords that reflect this.
- Make sure you test all your new features, landing pages, CTAs, and load-test your site to see how well you do and what areas can use some more work. This will ensure that come time for Clickmas, you will be well prepared and ahead of the game.
Whether you are a small retailer just getting into the holiday groove, or a seasoned veteran, these best practices will ensure that you are running smoothly and driving Cyber Monday shoppers directly to your site, your offers and your checkout.