6 Ways to Prepare for Black Friday & Cyber Monday
Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping habits continue to change – especially now that we are in the post-pandemic ecommerce era. Consumers can’t lean on their economic stimulus checks; however, in many countries, consumers are returning to their previous spending habits. If your company hasn’t already prepared an ecommerce sales and fraud prevention strategy, this is your sign that it’s time. Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday have seen major shifts in the past several years.
Black Friday & Cyber Monday Have Evolved
Back in 2019, Black Friday was the busiest shopping day of the year, with 84.2 million in-store shoppers and 93.2 million consumers shopping online. Cyber Monday had about one-quarter the number of shoppers at 21.8 million.
In 2020, the number of online shoppers topped 100 million on Black Friday, with in-store visits down nearly 50%, mostly due to pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions. As much as 58% of shoppers shifted to primarily online shopping that year.
As stores opened their doors in late 2021, Black Friday saw 88 million consumers shopping online – still higher than pre-pandemic numbers. Cyber Monday took the prize for the busiest shopping day of the year, with one in three shoppers buying online. It became clear that ecommerce had been adopted by more consumers as a viable shopping option.
In 2022, a new landscape emerged. The influx of new online shoppers and re-opening brick-and-mortar stores didn’t appease consumers who were still cautious about the economy. Some retail sectors didn’t experience the same level of demand during the holiday season as they had experienced for the last few years.
This coming holiday season signals change.
Deloitte forecasts ecommerce sales growth between 10.3% and 12.8%, resulting in projected sales between $278 billion and $284 billion. And with more ecommerce sales comes more fraud. The difference is that inflation has made consumers cautious, so value and service are going to be the difference-makers.
As is the case with every year, online retailers need to re-evaluate their approach to attracting customers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Here are six strategies ecommerce businesses can start implementing today to ensure they make the most of whatever these big shopping days may bring.
1. Understand Your Customers
One of the big changes we’ve seen over the last few years is the emergence of multigenerational online shoppers. This creates a challenge for businesses that have typically been relying on similar tactics to attract and sell to consumers.
Today’s ecommerce business has to cater to up to four generations of consumers with distinctly different behaviors and attitudes. In our latest original research report, State of Consumer Attitudes on Ecommerce, Fraud, & CX 2022-2023, we highlight that 54% of Gen Z and millennials shop online three or more times per month. They are most often purchasing apparel costing less than $200. In contrast, 59% of Gen Xers and baby boomers shop online only once or twice per month. Their purchases tend to be in the apparel and home goods industries.
What does this mean for ecommerce businesses this holiday season? For starters, you’ll need to rethink your strategy and answer some key questions to better understand who will be shopping:
Who is your market? We’ve already established that it could include a range of generations. The thing to consider is that Gen Z shoppers differ from boomers on several fronts. You can’t assume that the same tactics will work across the board.
How have your customers’ online shopping habits changed? Should you offer personalization or not? That answer depends on who you are targeting. Our original research shows that younger consumers expect it, while older consumers get annoyed with it.
Cart abandonment is another consideration. One of the key triggers is shipping time and cost. In fact, total price is now one of the biggest factors in making a sale, according to our research.
How are you handling coupons, bundles and special offers? Policy abuse continues to be a significant issue for midsize and enterprise retailers. Ecommerce businesses need a prevention strategy that accounts for the most recent trends in coupon abuse.
What payment methods will you offer? Consumers want choice when it comes to how they pay, and generational preferences vary from digital wallets to buy now, pay later to traditional credit cards.
Also, make sure you don’t forget your marketing – it takes time for content to get indexed by search engines. Create this content now and spend the next few months driving traffic to it with your social media and email. That way, once customers start searching, you’ll be top of mind – and hopefully top of the search engine results.
2. Prioritize the Customer Experience
Customer experience has become a primary goal for ecommerce success. That means paying attention to every step along the shopper’s journey.
Website and mobile app navigation: Is it intuitive? How hard do shoppers have to think about finding information important to their purchasing decisions? Are your menus easy to locate and use? Is there an option to make text larger for older generations who can’t necessarily read small print on their phones?
Searching and filtering: Think about your customers and how they look for products. A search bar is great for tech-savvy customers who can easily figure out how to get back to where they started. However, filters are even better because customers can see where they are on your site and find their way even faster.
Product pages: Are your product photos and descriptions up to date? Are the photos high-resolution? Do you offer multiple views of the same product? And do your descriptions provide enough information that a customer wouldn’t be surprised by what they received?
Return and refund policies: If your return and shipping policies leave anything to doubt, you may be opening your business to more friendly fraud. Aim for as much clarity as possible.
And if you have brick-and-mortar locations in addition to online stores, you should optimize content for local queries by claiming your Google My Business listing and adding phrases like “near me” to content.
3. Don’t Leave Your Platforms and Channels to Chance
Today’s Gen Z and millennial consumers use more than one channel to shop. Quite often, we find they visit brick-and-mortar stores, if available, to see merchandise and go online to make a purchase. The same goes for social commerce to mobile app or website shopping. Consumers who want to confirm the legitimacy of a retailer may find the website to make an actual purchase.
For this reason, ecommerce platforms, payment partners and channels must be optimized to support this shift. They also need to adapt to boosts in traffic, changes in direction and a contingency plan in case of unanticipated downtime. There are a range of ecommerce platform options depending on your business, from Shopify to Shift4Shop to VTEX to Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
You also need to make sure your website and apps load quickly. Most consumers have only about 15 seconds of patience before they move on to another website or social commerce site.
4. Provide Personalization (When Appropriate)
Customers like to feel special — even more so around the holidays. So why not segment your email list now and target them based on their past shopping habits? While a discount code sent to your entire email list may incentivize customers, it’s also a little generic. Consider sending offers based on what they’ve bought before — and what they’re likely to buy again.
While we’re on the topic of personalization, understand that customers expect much more than ever before from their shopping experiences. And those expectations vary generationally. In our original research, we discovered the following trends:
- Gen Z consumers expect personalization.
- Millennial consumers have a moderate desire for personalization.
- Gen X consumers are open to personalization.
- Baby boomer consumers are opposed to personalization.
Another factor to consider is the benefit of AI-enabled technology, such as customer-centric chatbots and online concierge services. Chatbots are particularly useful to answer customer questions and inspire more orders by following them through their buying journey.
5. Prepare for Fraud and Chargebacks
The holiday season is fraudsters’ favorite time of year – so much so, they hone their skills and develop tactics to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers and unprotected online retailers. Fraud is projected to cost businesses more than US$362 billion globally between 2023 and 2028.
Fraud schemes you should look out for include:
Gift card fraud
Fraudsters have figured out how to activate gift cards while they’re on end caps and POP displays. Using that data, fraudsters make purchases at your store without you knowing. Another tactic is using hacking software that looks for emails and texts with the phrase “gift card.” With those numbers, fraudsters can spend the value of those cards without customers knowing.
Return and refund abuse
Fraudsters know that your online business processes more orders during the holidays than you do the rest of the year. They also know how important it is for your team to provide a superior customer experience and avoid chargebacks during this time. So, what better time to leverage more liberal return and refund policies? U.S. retailers stand to lose more than $12 billion each year to return and refund abuse.
A whopping 86% of chargebacks are fraudulent because criminals and some less-than-honest consumers use the process to get merchandise and recoup the cost of the purchase. Businesses lose around $125 billion annually in time, fees, physical goods and shipping costs. During the holiday season, ecommerce businesses need to be especially vigilant about preventing chargebacks.
Criminals rent AI bot networks from fraud as a service (FaaS) providers to launch large-scale fraud campaigns for as little as 15 cents per bot. This makes it easy and inexpensive to attack your online store.
6. Minimize Risk
In our original research, we found that 83% of consumers would never return to an online store that didn’t protect them from fraud. Not only do you need to prevent fraud to protect your bottom line, but it’s also the differentiator for customers to shop with you.
Too often, companies rely on fraud filters and deny lists to address fraud, thinking that anything suspicious should be declined. But that will get your company in trouble with customers for another reason: false declines. Your best bet is to implement a hybrid approach to fraud.
Hybrid fraud prevention model
ClearSale’s hybrid solution starts with a highly effective automatic approval algorithm that “learns” as more transactions are processed. Globally experienced fraud analysts assess the small percentage of orders flagged for review with the goal of locating as many additional approvals as possible. Fraudulent transactions are identified and declined.
Highly trained human analysts along with advanced machine learning address the friendly fraud threat in real time. Not only can we help protect your business over the long term, but we also guarantee transactions 100% against fraudulent chargebacks.
By applying this global lens and a large database of orders across industries, we’re able to quickly recognize fraud trends and help clients eliminate fraud threats and prevent chargebacks — all while approving more orders, faster.
Through our partnership with enterprise chargeback management service provider ChargebackOps, ClearSale offers full-scale chargeback management:
- Total Chargeback Protection allows businesses to recoup a portion of losses due to fraudulent transactions.
- Chargeback Guarantee reimburses the transaction amount plus the chargeback amount for any unauthorized transaction that’s approved.
- End-to-End Chargeback Management delivers comprehensive chargeback mitigation and resolution services, including team training, data audits and timely responses to issuers.
Comprehensive brand protection
Leveraging a combination of artificial intelligence and expertise, we help prevent cyberattacks and mitigate their effects, quickly removing threats from various sources.
- Phishing: Including fake page URLs and other communication channels
- Applications: iOS and Android
- Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, X, TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn and more
To find out more about how you can prevent your company and your customers from being the victims of fraud, contact a ClearSale analyst today.