Closing out a record-breaking 2019 holiday shopping season, e-commerce merchants had no reason to think 2020’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday would be any different.
But what a difference a year makes.
This year, thanks to the continued threat of COVID-19, holiday shoppers may be less likely to join the crowds at brick-and-mortar stores — that is, if they’re even open at all. Retailers like Target and Walmart are opting to stay closed on Thanksgiving Day, ending a longstanding tradition of starting Black Friday shopping early. Countless more retailers are waiting to make the call, keeping a close eye on local capacity restrictions and case counts.
Half of U.S. consumers are already saying the pandemic will affect their holiday shopping this year, with many consumers opting to shop from the comfort of their homes rather than fighting the hustle and bustle of the in-person crowds.
So as brick-and-mortar retailers rethink selling during the holidays, online retailers need to re-evaluate their approach to attracting customers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Here are five strategies e-commerce merchants can start implementing today to ensure they make the most of whatever these big shopping days may bring.
1. Plan in Advance
Being ready for the seasonal shopping rush means planning ahead. Sure, your offers might not be released until Black Friday, but many retailers start offering “sneak peeks” on their deals as early as October to drive interest.
So start developing your special offers, product bundles, and advertising strategies, so you have time to get everything lined up perfectly. And 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 them 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.
Go through your product catalog now to make sure product photos and descriptions are updated and robust. 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 e-commerce 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.
So, make sure you’ve optimized your platform so it can manage a boost in traffic (and that you have a solid backup plan in place in case you do experience downtime) and will load quickly. After all, studies show that even a two-second delay in load time can result in conversions decreasing by 60%.
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.
5. Minimize Fraud Risk
E-commerce retailers who also have a brick-and-mortar location may find this shift to online shopping hits them even harder. With profit margins on online sales generally 50%-80% of what merchants earn on in-store purchases, e-commerce retailers have to work harder to attract and retain customers and earn the same revenue.
And with customers concerned about the safety and security of their sensitive personal data they submit with each online purchase, it’s even more important for e-commerce retailers to show they take e-commerce fraud and chargebacks seriously. When you implement a robust combination of human review and advanced artificial intelligence that can review your transactions and flag an analyze suspicious orders, you can be confident you’re safely approving the right orders.
As an online retailer, every dollar counts — especially during a pandemic. 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.