Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping habits are predicted to change yet again. For ecommerce retailers, this means more adaptation after an already-exhausting three years of change. Experts anticipate lower sales revenues, increased fraud, higher customer expectations plus a wild card – the FIFA 2022 World Cup. These factors together certainly make for a challenging holiday ecommerce season.
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 few years.
How 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.
However, 2022 presents a new landscape.
Despite the influx of new online shoppers and re-opened brick-and-mortar stores, consumers are cautious about the economy. So, some retail sectors won’t be seeing the same level of demand this holiday season as they’ve experienced for the last few years.
That doesn’t mean consumers want less.
After nearly three years of enterprise retailers pulling out all the stops with regard to delivery speed, product availability and selection, consumers now assume they can get what they want as fast as they want and in as many colors, shapes and sizes as they want. Unfortunately, supply chain issues are going to make that difficult without strategic purchasing and inventory tactics.
What this means for online retailers is they need to re-evaluate their approach to attracting customers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Here are five strategies ecommerce businesses can start implementing today to ensure they make the most of whatever these big shopping days may bring.
1. Plan in Advance
This year more than ever, preparing for the seasonal shopping rush requires planning ahead. Start with some of the key questions that can help you understand your customers:
Who is your market? Remember, you’ve picked up a number of new ecommerce customers who are still finding their bearings online.
How have your customers’ online shopping habits changed? In our original research, State of Consumer Attitudes on Ecommerce, Fraud & CX 2021, we found that 35% of consumers will abandon their carts if the checkout process is too long or complicated.
How much new customer traffic do you anticipate? While experts are anticipating slightly less online traffic this year, retailers in industries such as fashion, consumer electronics, sporting goods and ticketing are likely to see an uptick In World Cup-related traffic.
How are you handling coupons, bundles and special offers? Policy abuse has become a significant issue for midsize and enterprise retailers. Ecommerce businesses need to have a prevention strategy.
What types of 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. Make Sure Your Product Catalog Is On Point
While you’re focused on marketing, don’t forget your product pages! With more and more customers researching — and then buying — their products online, you want to make sure customers can find out everything they want to know about the products you’re offering.
Customer experience has become a primary goal for ecommerce success, especially if you want to keep those new customers you attracted during the pandemic. Make sure your website is easy to navigate. Think about your customers and their buying journey: Consumers in older generations tend to get lost on sites that have only search functionality. You may want to consider also adding filters.
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.
Go through your product catalog now to evaluate product photos and descriptions. Are they 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?
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 Platform to Chance
If you’re a retailer who’s relying on online shoppers for revenue, what happens if your ecommerce platform can’t handle the pressure? If your site goes down while shoppers are trying to make purchases, you not only risk losing valuable revenue, but you also risk alienating good customers who take their business elsewhere — sometimes for good.
Your ecommerce platform and payment partners must be optimized 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 only have about 15 seconds of patience before they move on to another website.
4. Offer Personalized Incentives
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 that younger customers are far more open to receiving product suggestions based on past purchases, while only 11% of consumers over 65 are favorable to that type of messaging.
What most customers agree on is the benefit of AI-enabled technology, such as customer-centric chatbots and online concierge services. For your newer customers who may still be on the fence between online and in-store shopping, a chatbot that can answer customer questions and follow them through their buying journey can inspire more orders.
5. Minimize Fraud Risk
In our original research, we found that over 80% of consumers would think twice about shopping with an ecommerce retailer that allowed a fraudster to use their credit card information to make a fraudulent transaction. 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 that includes AI-enabled auto-approvals paired with secondary review of suspicious orders to make sure you’re only declining actual fraud. At ClearSale, our solution is so reliable, we have to review only about 2% of orders and then feed the intelligence gathered back into our approval algorithm to teach it to be even more accurate over time.
When you implement a robust combination of advanced artificial intelligence and human review, you can be confident you’re safely approving the right orders.
BONUS TIP! It’s World Cup Season, Too!
Remember that the FIFA World Cup is taking place this year and will impact both sales and fraud attempts. Your business is likely to receive international orders with shipping to new addresses that seem unfamiliar and require longer lead times for delivery.
All of these cross-border ecommerce considerations must be addressed before the season begins – World Cup games begin on Nov. 20 and end on Dec. 18. The more prepared your company can be for this once-in-four-years event, the more you can capitalize on those sales and prevent your business from falling victim to fraudsters.
As an online retailer, every dollar counts — especially as ecommerce shopping trends continue to evolve. Contact the experts at ClearSale to learn how our proven approach to fraud protection helps retailers like you avoid leaving your hard-earned revenue on the table this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.