The key to a successful BFCM lies in a lot of advanced preparation and planning. The following checklist should cover most of what you need to know to have your most successful sales event yet.
Short BFCM sales are a thing of the past. As previously stated, sales and promotions now run for weeks (or even months) prior to BFCM, especially online. Since door-buster deals and long lines at stores are waning, you need to be locked and loaded for a longer sales period. This means offering your deals before and after BFCM.
According to a 2021 holiday trends study by Justuno, almost 65% of U.S. shoppers planned to make their holiday purchases before Thanksgiving. What’s more, global eCommerce spending didn’t decline after peak holiday sales in 2020!
Test your site and be ready for traffic surges
Real talk: There’s never a good time to have your site slow down or crash. But, BFCM weekend? That’s probably the worst time you could imagine.
Your online store’s speed is important to your customers, and a major contributing factor in your conversion rate and your store’s discoverability in search. Make sure you test your server load capacity, then wait for the surge of shoppers to flood in.
Have your fulfillment strategy locked and loaded
Surges in sales mean more orders to fulfill. While this is a great problem to have, there’s no denying the logistics can be challenging. This is why you need a clear and established fulfillment strategy in place.
Will you fulfill all orders yourself, or will you outsource? Can you optimize your fulfillment workflow to improve the process for your team? Decide how you’ll fulfill orders and make sure you have everything set up for it before the sales begin.
Make sure you’re mobile-first
Mobile commerce, or MCommerce, is on the rise; according to Shopify, 71% of BFCM purchases were made on mobile devices in 2021. This means it’s crucial that your store is optimized for mobile.
Make your store mobile responsive, and ensure it’s easy and intuitive to purchase from an online device. Test your processes through mobile and make any necessary changes before the BFCM kickoff.
Start planning now
We know it feels early for BFCM, but the time to put your plan in action is now.
Start thinking about every element of your BFCM strategy, from your messaging and creative to your customer retention post-BFCM and everything in between.
Test your prep work for the bundles you want to offer, experiment with different packaging, get your product shots ready, and send in your replenishment orders.
By doing so, you can concentrate on the action during your BFCM event without worrying about the minor details.
Begin building anticipation on social media
Social media is a great way to hint at your upcoming event ahead of your sale to build anticipation and grow your audience. You can use it to expand your email marketing lists too. To build anticipation on social, consider:
Inviting users to sign up for your newsletter for early, exclusive access to sales.
Sharing positive reviews and other UGC about your store and products.
Counting down to your sale kickoff on your website.
Sharing discount codes with loyal customers.
Running contests on social media.
Double down on your top sales channels
If you already sell on more than one channel, identify those that are most lucrative to your business and double down on them during the holiday season. You want to look at:
Which channels have the highest conversion rates.
The platforms that capture your most loyal customers.
Marketplaces your products are ranking well organically in.
Where your products have the most visibility.
Explore the sales channels that resonate most with your target shoppers so you can reach potential buyers early this year.
Create a contingency plan
Even the best laid plans go sideways sometimes. Make sure you’ve got a backup plan if the you-know-what hits the fan by considering worst-case scenarios and being ready no matter what’s thrown at you.
For example, you can set up backup bundles, flash deals, and prepare pre-order landing pages that will kick in if something sells out.
Make inventory decisions now
Picking and ordering the products you plan to promote during BFCM should be done as early as possible, especially if you rely on suppliers to manufacture or source your inventory. Around the world, suppliers have been operating above capacity since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and so require time to ready products for you.
Look at your inventory reporting to see what products have traditionally sold best and promote those during your BFCM sale.
Establish a shipping and delivery strategy early and communicate
Key sales periods are a good time to revisit your shipping strategy. This doesn’t mean you need to offer every shipping option out there. It’s more important to align with your customers’ needs and to balance affordable and feasible options for your business. Moreover, when customers have too many shipping options to choose from, it can actually have a negative impact. Keep it simple, offer a few options (e.g., two-day, regular shipping), and create a better customer experience.
Also, remember that how you charge customers has a big influence on both your conversion rate and your profit margins. Consumers now expect free and fast shipping — preferably both. While free shipping isn’t actually free since you cover the cost, absorbing this expense can have a big payoff, especially if it increases the average order value (AOV), such as in instances where you offer free shipping over $X amount.
You might also consider offering a “buy online, pick-up in store” (BOPIS) option if you have brick-and-mortar locations.
Organize upcoming sales and share with your team
Plan your deals and discounts well in advance rather than throwing a sale together at the last minute. Take time to review your margins and inventory so you can set enticing discounts that still make sense for your business.
Create preplanned sales maps, prepackaged bundles, and exclusive deals. Share them across your team and with fulfillment partners so everyone can plan and prepare.
By documenting and preplanning, when sale dates approach, you can quickly and easily set your business up for success.
Optimize order and fulfillment workflows in advance
When a high volume of sales pour in over a short period of time, it can be difficult to fulfill and ship orders quickly. Some ways you can optimize your fulfillment workflows in advance of BFCM include:
Organize your fulfillment area.
Hire additional staff.
Communicate clearly and regularly with fulfillment and delivery partners.
Prioritize and organize orders.
Partner with a fulfillment partner like iLogistics USA.
Set up abandoned cart recovery
BFCM is a great time to shop. That means consumers will be going to multiple stores, comparing offers, and likely abandoning their carts.
If you want to crush it this BFCM, you need a compelling BFCM offer to convince customers to purchase with you. Failing that, you need to set up abandoned cart email sequences to get them back after they’ve left.
Abandoned cart emails that provide additional discounts
Pop-ups that show upon exit intent that share limited time offers
Sidebars that upsell or cross-sell to showcase the variety of your store
Update your website with BFCM creative
In the month leading up to BFCM, you want to have images and graphics ready to go live on your website. That includes your homepage, banners, product pages, and even pop-ups.
Tip: Prepare these creatives in advance so you have a branded look across all your communication channels (ie. social, emails, website).
If someone visits your website coming from an ad or social media, you want them to recognize they are in the right place, and be able to find their deal right away.
Retarget past visitors and customers
When you retarget past visitors to your store, you reach people who might have forgotten all about you and would have otherwise missed your sale.
You can and should retarget customers who have previously purchased from your store as well. Existing customers are usually easier to reach and market to than brand new ones, so they should be high on your priority list. They’re also more likely to buy, which boosts your likelihood of closing a sale with them.
Launch email marketing campaigns
Start planning your email campaigns long before your Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales kick off.
In addition to getting the word out before the deals go live, they reduce the number of things you have to manage right before your sales period begins.
To create the best email marketing strategy:
Place email collection fields and sign-up pop-ups on pages so you can email shoppers who’ve visited, but aren’t ready to buy and help build suspense and buzz about your upcoming sale.
Personalize your campaigns to give your customers a more tailored experience.
Send hints or teasers in the weeks leading up to your BFCM sale launch so your audience knows to watch for your announcement.
Thank your customers after the sale wraps up.
Remember to send abandoned cart emails.
Use BNPL to increase conversions
Buy now, pay later (BNPL) solutions allow customers to make an online purchase today, then pay for the order in installments over a period of time, similar to layaway.
These solutions are proven to boost conversions as well as Average order value (AOV).
BNPL can also reduce cart abandonment rates by offering an additional payment option. Reward loyal customers.
Reward loyal customers
BFCM is a great time to build relationships with previous customers and convince them to return to your store. It’s also a prime opportunity to reward your loyal customer base by targeting them early with your best deals.
Offer stellar online chat support
Chat support on your website is a great way to connect with your customers in real time to provide much needed support and personalization.
Online chat can also include FAQ links to help connect shoppers with answers they need when you or your team is unavailable.
Blow your customer service out of the water
The holidays can be a hectic time for customer support, and the hard truth is, they don’t always bring out the best in our customers. One way to improve the customer experience is to be courteous and respectful of your customers, and have a quick response time when issues arise.
Arm yourself and your team with pre-written, helpful phrases and replies so you can deliver consistent service in the moment with minimal effort. Some common customer frustrations to prepare for include:
Lost or delayed orders
Dissatisfaction with purchases
Damaged packages or products
Offer easy returns
Returns are as much a part of the buying experience as payment options, with most shoppers today expecting free and easy returns.
Clearly communicate your returns policy and make sure it’s easy to understand. Popular places to showcase your policy include a dedicated Shipping and Returns Policy page, your FAQs page(s), and product pages. It should be included in all order notification emails as well.
Assess your checkout experience
Be honest: Does your checkout experience inspire customers to buy? The checkout process is a make-or-break moment that determines whether customers pay up or bail.
Lengthy checkouts can be a conversion killer, especially on mobile, so accelerated checkouts like Shop Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, etc., are a great option to boost conversions.
These checkout methods let customers autofill saved information, which reduces barriers to purchasing.
Ask for feedback before BFCM
A fresh set of eyes can help you identify issues on your website and provide important feedback that can improve your shoppers’ experiences. Look for common problems or areas where visitors are confused or frustrated and work with your existing customer base to find solutions before you kick off your BFCM sale.
Be ready to nurture BFCM customers
Once you’ve earned a customer, it’s imperative you nurture that customer to increase the likelihood they’ll return to your store to purchase again.
Prepare nurture email campaigns to keep your BFCM customers engaged long after the sales have ended to turn these one-time buyers into repeat customers with a higher lifetime value.
You can send post-sale emails to subscribers, engage with them on social media, or set up retargeting campaigns to remain top-of-mind with relevant products and enticing messaging.
Wrapping up — Get ready for BFCM 2022 as early as today
BFCM may seem like it’s far away, but it’ll be here sooner than you expect. By preparing early, you’ll be ready to launch your deals and tactics in the most efficient, effective way possible.
You’ll also ensure your assets are ready to go, inventory is prepared, and you don’t miss out on sales because you overlooked an opportunity.
Follow the BFCM checklist we’ve shared above to set yourself up for success. Happy selling!