Cyber Monday: Your 7-Minute Survival Guide

Today is Cyber Monday, but you already know that: you’ve been up for hours (after a full night’s sleep) watching sales pour in steadily as your customers wake up time zone by time zone to snag deals in your store. You’re already up to date on social mentions, and your temp help is humming through packing for the first wave of orders. Heck, even your latte was made to your exact specifications.

🚨 Hold up. If this doesn’t sound like you, that’s completely normal.🚨

The above “Instagram” version of a Cyber Monday in the life of an ecommerce store owner sounds pretty ideal, but is not reality for most.

via GIPHY

Maybe you’re not getting any sales. Maybe you’re getting more than you anticipated and your staff is wigging out. Maybe your studio is covered in a layer of packing peanuts and you can’t find your phone.

Or maybe you woke up today and thought, “Oops, is it Cyber Monday already?”

Don’t worry, though—wherever you are on the spectrum of “No Sweat” to “Everything is on Fire”, we got you. This post is equal parts pep talk, checklist, and survival guide. Give us just 7 minutes to get you pumped and equipped for the final day of this wild Black Friday Cyber Monday ride.

How to survive Cyber Monday (and make sales, too)

It’s not enough to simply survive today, of course—you’ve probably set some sales goals, even if it’s just “make my first sale”. There’s still time to help achieve them. You’ve set up your deals and sent out your emails, but the work is not done. (Also, you’re useless if you’re not taking care of yourself.)

Here are a few last-minute tactics to help keep spirits up and traffic flowing today.

Keep the energy high and the stress low

You’re no good to anyone if you’re falling asleep on the job.

Lay off the croissants (carbs can lead to a post-meal slump), and make sure you get plenty of water (it makes you more productive). Moderate exercise and fresh air—say a walk around the block—help circulate oxygen and releases hormones that give you an energy boost. Coffee in moderation can work in a pinch, but you might even need a mid-day power nap to keep selling through the night.

Beyond staying in good shape physically, your attitude can have an impact on energy. Keep your focus on the positive, reduce stress, and help motivate your staff with these tips:

  • Take a few minutes this morning to organize your space: gather all of the needed supplies and set up an efficient workflow.
  • Watch the sales roll in with Shopify analyticsLive View gives you a real-time look at who’s in your store right now. Set up a “war room” in your work area so that everyone can celebrate and stay pumped together.
  • Remember your goals: post your goals for today somewhere where you and your staff can be reminded of them all day.
  • Create a positive environment for your staff and lead by example.
  • Encourage breaks and treat yourself and staff for hard work. Remember when I said no to carbs? Sometimes the emotional benefits of a sprinkled donut outweigh the physical drawbacks.

Need a break already? Check out this live view of BFCM sales by Shopify merchants happening across the world. 🌎

Real-time customer service

Remember that customers expect a faster response on Cyber Monday, when stakes are high and deals are timed. Make sure that you check your social mentions and inbox frequently, in case your customers are having issues with checkout or have questions about your products or policies.

Take a few minutes this morning to up your Cyber Monday customer service game:

  • Check that your product pages have complete and accurate info (start with popular products that are included in your BFCM campaign).
  • Add any Cyber Monday-specific Q&As to your FAQ page.
  • Try a live chat app—many are free to try, and can be set up in minutes. Since you’ll likely be at your computer all day, and your contact volume will be high, it’s a good day to test if this method will work for you and your brand.
  • Set up some automations so that you don’t miss anything. Use IFTTT or Zapier to collect mentions in a spreadsheet. Set up an auto-reply letting customers know that contact volume may cause delays, and link them to your updated FAQs.
  • Edit automated emails in Shopify and create reply templates for social and live chat to save time and keep your messaging consistent among your staff.

Timely customer service can go a long way, and you might just get a testimonial out of it:

💡 Too busy to implement these today? Bookmark this post and tackle this list later—these tips are equally helpful for every other day of the year.

Timed deals and social engagement all day

Don’t just send one pre-Cyber Monday email and forget it. BFCM is noisy, and your deal could get lost in the shuffle. Send day-of reminders to your customers, and post updates on social throughout the day, especially if your Cyber Monday plan involves timed deals.

You can also gain exposure by adding #BFCMwin to your Tweets and Instagram updates. We’re retweeting the best deals all day.

Crisis comms: what if something goes wrong?

Today may not be the day to start drafting your official crisis communication plan, but you can avoid customer service surprises by spending a couple of minutes this morning asking yourself a few simple questions:

  • What’s your backup plan? If your deal sells out early, how will you communicate it to customers? Will you release another deal? What will you do if your customers have checkout issues? 
  • What’s your “holding statement”? Establish common messaging to cover a number of issues, and communicate it to staff to ensure consistency.
  • When do you intervene? If you have staff or a VA managing customer service, establish clear guidelines around when and how to escalate customer concerns.
  • How will you make it right? Set up gift cards or discount codes (try Sharable Discount Links) in advance and empower your staff to send them to any disappointed customers.
Set up gift cards or discount codes in advance and empower your staff to send them to any disappointed customers.

Black Friday Cyber Monday is over. What’s next?

Step back and celebrate: you did it! There are a few timely housekeeping items to address as soon as your sales have ended, however. Here's what to tackle in the week following BFCM.

💡 Busy today? Bookmark the rest of this post for later.

Rest, reflect, restock

  • Check in with yourself—have you been practicing self-care? We know your business needed your full attention for the past month, but be sure to get a little R&R before the rest of the holiday orders rush in.
  • Record any observations you made throughout the weekend. When you run your post-mortem in December or January, you’ll be glad you did.
  • Assess the damage: how’s your inventory? Are you stocked up on supplies? Use this week to replenish.

Giving Tuesday

If you run a not-for-profit business, you are charity-affiliated, or donate any proceeds to help causes you care about, guess what: this long week (is it only Monday!?) isn’t quite over. Giving Tuesday is the hangover of BFCM—a chance for consumers to balance the money spent on products with contributions to causes.

Giving Tuesday offers ideas for small businesses looking to participate.

Follow-up communication

BFCM may have brought a new customer group to your store for the first time. The deal seekers came for the discount, but give them a reason to stick around. Follow up with a thank you email, an exclusive deal, or brand content that engages.

The deal seekers came for the discount, but give them a reason to stick around.

For all of your customers, make sure automated email copy is updated so that customers are notified when orders are shipped. You may also consider sending a survey to get customer feedback on their BFCM experience in your store.

Ship!

Read our Shipping Guide for everything you need to know about shipping during BFCM and the holiday season.

Prep for holiday sales

Image by Burst

BFCM is over but holiday orders will be streaming in until your shipping cut off date. Take this opportunity to give your ecommerce store a bit of a festive makeover (if that’s your thing) and update your shipping and shopping info:

  • Update assets in your shop and across social media channels to remove BFCM messaging and imagery and communicate holiday deals and info.
  • Set and communicate cut-off shipping dates for holiday orders in a prominent place on your website. For U.S. merchants, we recently announced a partnership with UPS that offers domestic 2-day shipping, allowing your customers to squeeze in even more shopping days at your store.
  • Update your returns and exchanges policy
  • If you own a retail location, too, set and communicate holiday hours

Plan a post-mortem

To prepare for next year, it’s important to look at the numbers, run reports, and gather customer feedback. When the dust settles in January, schedule a retrospective with your team to analyze and discuss the wins and losses of BFCM and holiday 2017.

What worked? What didn’t? What will you keep or scrap for 2018?

Looking ahead: BFCM 2018

If you’re new to ecommerce or you didn't participate in BFCM this year, start gathering inspiration for next year. It’s not too early to get started—as the holiday approaches, you’ll find yourself with less and less time to look at the big picture.

What to do right now:

  • Mine the #BFCMwin hashtag for campaign ideas from other successful Shopify merchants to inspire you next year
  • Create an email folder and save good examples of campaign emails from your favorite retailers
  • Check out the BFCM Toolbox for resources to bookmark for later
  • Start building up your email list in advance of BFCM 2018

Are you participating in Cyber Monday? In the comments below, share your own tips for staying motivated and driving last-minute sales today.