The Step-by-Step Guide to Prepare Your Store for Black Friday Cyber Monday

The Step-by-Step Guide to Prepare Your Store for Black Friday Cyber Monday

Black Friday Cyber Monday 2017 | Shopify Retail blogBefore the last slice of pumpkin pie is eaten and the leftover turkey has been packed away, many Americans start scoping out deals for the largest shopping event of the year — that's right, we mean Black Friday Cyber Monday 2017.

In 2015, revenue from Black Friday sales amounted to $1.6 billion, and online revenues from both Black Friday and Cyber Monday have grown steadily year after year.

Research from Media IQ indicates that Americans are six times more likely to make purchases on Black Friday compared to sales on regular Fridays. It’s no wonder that even retailers outside of America have started participating in Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM).

So, how can you ensure that your business is ready for the biggest shopping day of the year and the unofficial start to the holiday season? In this post, we’ll discuss ways to get your store ready, whether you run a brick-and-mortar shop or an ecommerce business. We’ve created a week-by-week timeline and the steps you need to take so that you’re prepared for BFCM.

Statista Black Friday | Shopify Retail blog

Image Credit: Statista

Two Months Until Black Friday Cyber Monday…

Yes, September is a great time to start considering your black for BFCM. While it may feel early in the season to begin the planning process, there are a couple of things retailers can do to get a jumpstart on this year's preparations.

Hire Temporary Staff

We all know the phrase: "Good help is hard to find." That's particularly applicable when it comes to finding seasonal help for BFCM sales.

So, a couple of months out from BFCM, start your search. Prep your job ad, post it on the appropriate job sites, and begin screening candidates. That way, you won't be caught off guard (and without enough help) when November rolls around.

FURTHER READING: Need some help hiring temporary staff for your store? Read our guide to finding and vetting successful seasonal employees.

Create Your Plan 

How do you plan to let your customers know about your BFCM sales? What products do you intend to push this season? What promotions and discounts will you run, and how will you let the world know about them?

These are big questions to answer, especially when you're busy actually selling to your customers. To combat the feeling of doing everything on the fly, take some time in September to create your plan for sales, marketing, and advertising (if you haven't already). 

Think about the products that you want to clear out, what sales events you want to host, and how you want to promote your brand during Black Friday Cyber Monday. Think about:

  • Email marketing: Figure out what messages you'll deliver directly to customer inboxes. Learn more about high-converting sales emails, and integrate those tactics into your marketing plan.
  • Influencer marketing: What bloggers and influencers will you use to spread the word about your products and BFCM sale?
  • Social media marketing: Flesh out your social media strategy and firm up any campaigns you're planning for BFCM. 
  • Social listening: What are your customers talking about when it comes to BFCM? Find out with social listening tools, and make sure your communications are relevant to the conversations already happening.
  • Giveaways and contests: You can use a BFCM or holiday-themed giveaway to get customers primed for holiday shopping. How can you use a contest this year to expose potential customers to your products and get current buyers engaged with your brand?
  • Sales and promotions: Yes, most people shop on BFCM to score a deal. So, how will you cater to bargain hunters? How can you create promotions that will spark a sense of urgency and contribute to higher sales numbers?

It may help to even create a sales/promotions calendar so that you and your staff know what events are happening and when.

One Month to Black Friday Cyber Monday…

Start Preparing for Sales

Black Friday Cyber Monday sales | Shopify Retail blogAs we mentioned, in the retail world, it’s never too early to start preparing for Black Friday. Some businesses start as soon as the back-to-school season is over, and most retailers begin at least a month in advance. Calculating prices, printing store signage, updating a business website, and training employees all take a significant amount of time; however, the main reason why smart businesses get a head start is that most Black Friday shoppers begin scouting out deals early.

BFCM WIN: Want to learn more tips on how to sell more this year during Black Friday Cyber Monday? Use our BFCM Toolbox to get set, get seen, and get selling this holiday season.

According to a report from Nextopia, large retail chains including Walmart, Best Buy, and Target started advertising their Black Friday sales as early as November 10 in 2014 — three whole weeks before the big event. The sooner you start thinking about BFCM, the sooner you’re able to let shoppers know what’s in store and increase the likelihood that they’ll take note.

Two Weeks until Black Friday Cyber Monday…

Take Stock of Inventory

Don’t let misinformation about inventory stall your BFCM success. If you own a brick-and-mortar store, now is the time to count and recount what you have in stock and order more product if necessary. Because many customers research Black Friday deals online before heading into stores, it’s worthwhile to have an accurate product count.

FURTHER READING: It's easier to stay on top of your inventory with the right tools. Use our roundup of crucial inventory management tactics to keep your product counts in check.

It’s not only important to take stock of sales inventory, but of sales equipment too. Shopping bags and receipt tape might not be something on your mind as you prepare for the largest sale of the year, but having enough of both is essential to ensuring your BFCM sale runs smoothly. If you run an online store, stock up on packing and shipping materials, so you can mail all items sold on Cyber Monday out within a few days.

Black Friday statistics | Shopify Retail blog

Image Credit:

Start Spreading the Word

Once you have a BFCM business plan intact, begin letting your customers know through email marketing, bloggers and influencers, and social media channels. Here, we’ll break down each method.

Email Marketing

According to Custora, email marketing was by far the biggest contributor to online sales on Black Friday in 2014, driving 27.3% of sales that year. Email marketing is also the easiest way to stay in contact with loyal year-round customers, and it’s 50% easier to sell to existing customers than brand new ones. Be sure to encourage online visitors to sign up for an enewsletter in order to learn about BFCM deals in advance of the general public.

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Bloggers and Influencers

It’s no secret that bloggers and digital influencers have the ability to help convert readers and followers into shoppers. The numbers are impressive: according to Women’s Wear Daily, blogs like Pink Peonies reportedly drove $1 million in sales to Nordstrom online over the holiday season in 2014. Another website, ShopStyle Collective, saw blogger-affiliated December sales increase 315% year-over-year. If it’s in your budget, teaming up with a few bloggers or influencers that embody your business and target your consumers is worthwhile.

One thing to keep in mind: start reaching out early. According to Socialyte, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the most popular dates for brands to connect with bloggers. Also, consider booking bloggers for multi-day campaigns. After all, Black Friday is the start to the holiday season – there are many more shopping days to take advantage of after that.

Social Media

Social media isn’t the highest revenue driver, but it’s still a worthwhile avenue to explore, especially because businesses can use them for free. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all great platforms to tease sales and push high-demand products. If your business or brand has a large Snapchat following, the app is also a great way to give consumers sneak previews of what’s in store.

According to data from Nanigans, Facebook ads perform particularly well in the lead up to Black Friday. In 2014, click-through rates were up 66% on Thanksgiving and 36% on Black Friday compared to click-through ads earlier in the week. The peak on Thanksgiving tells us shoppers are eager to research deals early.

One Week Until Black Friday…

Milani Cosmetics, Black Friday | Shopify Retail blog

Image Credit: Milani Cosmetics

Update Your Website

Shoppers should have a clear idea of what your BFCM deals are as soon as they land on your website. A single, strong sales message, such as “30% off all regular priced merchandise” or “Take an additional 25% off all sale items,” is clearer and more effective than having several different deals going on.

For brick-and-mortar businesses, ensure that your Black Friday  store hours are clearly displayed. In fact, even if they’re the same as regular store hours, it may be worth reiterating so that customers know exactly when they can shop on the day.

If you’re an online business preparing for Cyber Monday, consider doing a test run to ensure that the website runs smoothly. According to Capterra, online retailers should work with their servers to confirm the maximum number of shoppers your website can handle at a time. It also doesn’t hurt to have a fresh pair of eyes on your website once everything is in place. Guaranteeing your online shop is easy to navigate and efficient to use is critical to customers making purchases on Cyber Monday.

Train Staff

The key to operating smoothly is a well-trained team. Make sure all employees are aware of what’s on sale and are able to inform customers. Staff at brick-and-mortar shops should also be familiar with all of the items in store, or in the store section they oversee. Finally, because theft often occurs in high-volume situations, remind staff of your store’s security protocol before doors open.

Finally, because theft often occurs in high-volume situations, remind staff of your store’s security protocol before doors open.

Other Things to Consider

Free Shipping

If you don’t already do it, consider offering free shipping on Cyber Monday. According to Kissmetrics, free shipping can raise a company’s net profit by 30% if done correctly. That’s because in general, shoppers are willing to spend more money on an item than pay an additional amount for shipping. If you’re unsure of how shipping might affect your revenue, create a minimum order value required for free shipping. A study done by Red Door showed that adding a shipping threshold increased orders by 90%.

In-Store Pickup

For brick-and-mortar stores concerned about competition from online retailers, consider offering free in-store pick-up as an option for online purchases. Many shoppers prefer this option because there’s often less of a waiting period than on items that get shipped by mail. It also helps to increase foot traffic in-store, and once a customer enters the store, it increases the likelihood of  incremental purchasing.

Multi-Channel Selling

Today’s shoppers use multiple platforms to research sales and make informed purchases, and according to  Media IQ, mobile devices were the biggest driver of sales in 2014. In fact, a staggering 60% of consumers used their phones to research products, compare prices, and ultimately make purchases. Ensure that your business is online and easy to use on multiple channels. Find out more about multi-channel selling here.

Moving Forward With Black Friday Cyber Monday Preparations

BFCM and the holiday shopping season is a busy, challenging time of year. However, preparing early and adopting even a few of these tips can help alleviate some of that stress and ensure that operations run smoothly. Excitement for Black Friday Cyber Monday has grown steadily every year. It’s time your business join in the fun.

About the Author

Michelle da Silva is a writer and editor. When she isn’t sitting behind a computer screen, she can be found biking around the city in search of Toronto’s best ice-cream.

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