Black Friday Ecommerce: 27 Ideas, Tips & Strategies to 3X-10X Holiday Sales in 2018

Black Friday Ecommerce: 27 Ideas, Tips & Strategies to 3X-10X Holiday Sales in 2018
  • Last year, Blenders 10X’d its holiday sales revenue on Shopify Plus; expects to quadruple it in 2018
  • Gymshark increased YoY holiday revenue 197% in 2017, effectively tripling Q4 sales and setting itself up to hit $128M in 2018
  • Due outages in 2016, SweetLegs replatformed a month before Black Friday last year and proceeded to break all it’s previous records
  • After migrating to Shopify Plus 5 years ago, Bombas’ site has stayed up every BFCM – when Bombas makes ~60% of its annual revenue

If last year is any indication, then 2018 is going to be another record-breaking holiday ecommerce season. Black Friday ecommerce alone is projected to increase by 15.31% year-over-year to $5.80 Billion in the U.S. with mobile sales expected to grow to $2.44 Billion.

Numbers like that are why — after near exhaustive research — we’ve identified …

27 Black Friday Cyber Monday ecommerce ideas, tips, and strategies to dominate 2018
  1. Black Friday Ecommerce Strategy
  2. Make It About the Offer
  3. Go “Deep” for VIP Customers
  4. Get Ready for Black November
  5. Start Early with Category Sales
  6. Ensure Site Performance
  7. Build Anticipation Organically
  8. Segment Emails Throughout
  9. Optimize Mobile-First Buying
  10. Simplify Onsite Navigation
  11. Increase Your Site Speed
  12. Accelerate Checkouts for Impulse Buyers
  13. Pay for Amazon Attention
  14. Go Native On Social
  15. Mimic Offsite Campaigns Onsite
  16. Run More Campaigns, Faster
  17. Kill the Coupons and Codes
  18. Automate Front and Backend Productivity
  19. Go IRL with Pop-Up Shops
  20. Personalize by User’s Device
  21. Integrate Rewards at Checkout
  22. Rescue Abandoned Carts by Any Means Necessary
  23. Step Up On-Site Search
  24. Prepare for Last-Minute Shipping
  25. Convert Returns into Retention
  26. Invest in Post-Holiday Loyalty
  27. Give ‘Em Reasons to Come Back

Plus, two bonuses …

🎁  Contingency Plan for Black-Friday Trouble
🎁  Contingency Plan for Black-Friday Success


Keep reading to unearth Black Friday’s best strategies

But if you’d like to find out the secret weapon thousands of high-growth brands are using to launch more campaigns this Black Friday, download our exclusive ebook for a behind-the-scenes look …

Sample pages on using automation as a holiday ecommerce strategy

Sample pages from the new guide Black Friday on Autopilot

1. Black Friday Ecommerce Strategy

Many businesses begin preparing for Black Friday Cyber Monday as soon as the previous holiday season is over. That’s important because 40% of holiday shoppers start buying before Halloween, according to the National Retail Federation.

What does a holistic Black Friday ecommerce strategy look like?

The whiteboard screenshot below illustrates just how complex and coordinated the Blenders team’s plan was leading up to BFCM 2017...

Your master strategy should include similar tactics, like:

▢  Black Friday buzz-building campaign that includes a countdown to the event via ads, email, social, and more

▢  Pre-Black Friday deals and specials during the weeks leading up to the big event (e.g., not just sales, but contests)

▢  Sneak peaks on door crashers and other amazing offers that will go live on Black Friday or even earlier

▢  Coordinated promotional strategy across all online channels — websites, emails, social, etc. — as well as influencers and micro-influences (e.g., referral program members) to maximize sales on the day of your sales, plus extended sale offers

▢  Post-Cyber Monday deals for last-minute shoppers emphasizing shipping dates and gift wrapping throughout December

And, at the center of everything …

2. Make It About the Offer

Chase Fisher, the CEO of Blenders, explains it like this...

“You can’t go into Black Friday and put 15% off, 20% off and expect to do well. Everything comes down to your offer – it’s the one time out of the year you can lower your prices without feeling like you’re losing brand integrity.

“Make sure your offer is compelling, no matter what.”

On Black Friday 2017, Blenders launched a 55% off on all sunglasses sale. For Cyber Monday, the company then offered 55% off all sunglasses, plus 40% off all snow goggles.

Black Friday Cyber Monday Discount and Sales Strategies

Blenders’ strategy and Black Friday Cyber Monday discounts paid off in spades: sales surged by 10X year-over-year.

Learn more about the company’s holiday tactics in Blenders’ recent case study or watch Fisher’s full AMA here.

3. Go “Deep” for VIP Customers

You can go even bigger with discounts and offers to your best customers. The email below, offering up to 80% off site-wide, was sent to the VIP customer segment of The Elephant Pants last Black Friday:

Black Friday email from The Elephant Pants

It’s a great strategy because, according to a benchmark report by Klaviyo, highly segmented emails that go out to VIPs — that can be just 3-5% of your overall list — will way outperform the rest of the customers in your database.

4. Get Ready for Black November

Black Friday Cyber Monday traditionally get all the holiday attention. And for good reason. However, more and more shoppers are going online earlier.

In fact, Nov. 2017 notched 23 consecutive days of over $1 billion in ecommerce sales even before the big day arrived. It’s a trend known as “Black” November:

Black November

The lead up to the holiday season should be about creating positive brand and product awareness before the biggest online shopping days arrive.

Many merchants use this opportunity to invest in video advertising. Shoppers who view videos are almost twice as likely to purchase than those who don’t. Facebook is the perfect platform to promote video content because you can retarget people to either upsell them or try and save an abandoned cart.

And don’t forget word of mouth, which is a primary reason that people purchase 74% of the time. You can start a refer-a-friend campaign or work with influencers to generate buzz and traffic.

5. Start Early with Category Sales

Throughout each of these key dates, Greg Zakowicz, Sr. Commerce Marketing Analyst from Bronto recommends offering category-specific sales versus discounting your entire store…

“Last year, for the first time ever, every single day in November drove at least $1 Billion in online sales,” says Zakowicz. “The challenge for retailers is that as sales start earlier and earlier, it puts increased pressure on them to deliver the discounts they have trained their customers to expect. Brands have been finding ways to combat this, and in 2017 the growing trend of category-specific sales fully emerged.”

He explains that this strategy accomplishes several things:

  • Generate incremental sales with higher margins
  • Keep email subscribers and visitors engaged
  • Positively impact your inventory, ordering, and future promotions

6. Ensure Site Performance

Without a reliable platform, you could lose millions in sales and loyal customers during peak traffic times.

Despite their best efforts to make their ecommerce site bulletproof – spending thousands extra each month on better servers for the WooCommerce platform — a 2016 Black Friday crash cost SweetLegs six-figures in lost sales.

“There was just an error page, basically. ‘Try back again later,’” says Chris Pafiolis, founder of SweetLegs. “Too many requests. Too many people. It just choked.”

Reluctant to switch platforms, SweetLegs waited until Oct. 2017 to kick-off its migration. To Pafiolis’ delight …

After replatforming to Shopify Plus in just 21 days, SweetLegs had its best Black Friday Cyber Monday ever.

The company launched a 50% off promotion for the duration of the sale, and the site stayed up the entire time. ~11,000 SweetLegs orders rushed in during Black Friday Cyber Monday, accounting for 25% of all the orders the site generated in 2017.

As one more example, take sock makers Bombas.

Before a Shark Tank episode aired, featuring the founders of Bombas, the company spent thousands of dollars in costly retrofits and server maintenance fees to prevent its existing site from crashing. But it still went down.

There were numerous problems including broken product images, and shoppers couldn’t check out. During a critical night for the young company, Bombas lost ~$15,000 in sales.

Since replatforming with Shopify Plus, that nightmare scenario is a faint memory. Bombas generated over 50 million in sales last year with 60% of that coming in over the fourth quarter.


7. Build Anticipation Organically

Creating an emotional connection with customers leading up to Black Friday Cyber Monday requires inspiring imagery and positive word of mouth from your customers and their peers.

To build buzz leading up to its holiday sales bonanza, Blenders started with organic Instagram posts, persuading the brand’s followers to stay engaged.

Ten days away from Black Friday, Blenders promoted a BFCM giveaway. Then two days out they built hype around “the biggest Black Friday Sale. EVER.” with #blackfriday in full effect:

Blenders built anticipation for their Black Friday event on Instagram

Simultaneously, Blenders was building excitement via Facebook. On Nov. 11, the company promoted a separate contest for a $500 Black Friday shopping spree. With two days left to go, they hinted at the size of the upcoming sale:

Blenders also built anticipation through Facebook

Naturally, paid advertising is crucial during the holiday season. But as CPC skyrockets over key buying days, nothing can replace a swell of genuine excitement built organically.

8. Segment Emails Throughout

Email is still a staple of Black Friday Cyber Monday sales generation, so you must be strategic about when to send your promotional emails and to whom.

“The more segmented and targeted you send your emails to, the higher revenue per recipient you’ll generate. You’ll also see higher open rates, and higher click-through rates — helping you build and maintain a strong sender reputation,” says Alicia Thomas from Klaviyo.

Thomas outlines 10 segments to use in order to increase sales over Black Friday Cyber Monday:

  1. Seasonal Shoppers
  2. Recent Openers
  3. VIP Customers
  4. Product Browsers
  5. Category Buyers
  6. Hasn’t Purchased (but is engaged)
  7. Email Ignorers
  8. Almost Purchasers
  9. Geographic Targets
  10. Gift Givers

For the Recent Openers, Browsers, Ignorers, Hasn’t Purchased or Almost Purchased segments, it’s vital that you offer them incentives to complete a purchase … or at least to open your dang email.

Of course, each of the offers and messages should be tailored to the segment.

For the Almost Purchasers segment, Ivory Ella sent an email out to only those customers who had received their morning email but had not opened it or placed an order that day.

Ivory Ella's segmented Black Friday email

For Email Ignorers, try enticing them with free shipping or a complimentary gift with purchase. Ursa Major of VT sent the offer below at 7 pm the day after Black Friday to subscribers who did not open an email on the day of the sale.

9. Optimize Mobile-First Buying

Of all the activities people use their phones for last year, mobile shopping was the fastest growing segment — up 54% YOY.

And over Black Friday Cyber Monday 2017, Shopify saw mobile account for 64% of all sales, an increase of 10% year-over-year.

The story was a little different elsewhere, with desktop sales accounting for 44% of all traffic but still commanding 61% of sales during the 2017 holiday shopping season, according to Adobe Digital Insights.

You can solve this issue by improving navigation, website speed, and offering one-click purchases to mobile-first customers, according to Fluent’s 2017 Devices and Demographics report.

In fact, those are the very next Black Friday ecommerce tips we’ll look at …

10. Simplify Onsite Navigation

Small details can have a huge impact. Case in point, Print Globe increased its conversions by 18.5% by optimizing the navigation design for its website.

Keep in mind, “responsive design is not mobile optimization.” Shanelle Mullin’s explained this idea in a 2017 article for ConversionXL. Included in the post was this sage advice from Talia Wolf:

“Though responsive design is much better than having to ‘pinch-and-zoom’, it isn’t an optimized experience for mobile visitors. At its core, responsive design makes the desktop experience look good on mobile, but it doesn’t address the specific needs of mobile visitors.”

Inflow’s Best-In-Class Ecommerce Mobile Report offers some excellent best practices, including a downloadable matrix of how the top ecommerce brands measure up across a number of mobile design and optimization criteria:

B2B branded apparel and accessories provider, Merchology, needed to quickly re-design its ecommerce site to offer a mobile-first customer experience that would make checking out on a mobile device easier.

Merchology’s team learned via its analytics data that users were switching from mobile to their desktop to check out.

Two months after the redesigned mobile-first site launched, Merchology was able to offer users a faster, simplified and automated mobile checkout experience. That, in conjunction with Shopify Scripts, helped Merchology to achieve:

  • 340% YoY lift in revenue per mobile device
  • 40% increase in their mobile conversion rates

11. Increase Your Site Speed

Mobile customers are impatient and unforgiving. One second makes a huge difference in mobile commerce:

  • If your site makes $100K per day, a one-second improvement generates an additional $7K daily
  • A one second delay in load time normally equals an 11% loss in pageviews
  • A one second delay also means an overall 7% drop in conversions

Site speed can also have a huge brand impact...

To improve your ecommerce site speed and performance, refer to our detailed post that includes optimizations for Shopify Plus ecommerce sites and recommended diagnostic tools.

12. Accelerate Checkouts for Impulse Buyers

UIE’s report revealed that impulse purchases account for ~40% of all the money spent on ecommerce. To boost impulse purchases, you should reduce the effort required for a user to buy something on your site.

Shopify Pay, for instance, helped over 400,000 online buyers checkout 3X faster last Black Friday Cyber Monday.

Shopify Pay for accelerating Black Friday checkouts

Alan Cassinelli, Director of Marketing at Peel, saw their conversion rate double last holiday. In his words:

“Accelerated checkouts really take advantage of the new technologies we have to purchase. It doesn’t make sense to have to re-enter the same information over and over again across all of the Internet.”

“It’s kind of like going into your favorite coffee shop, and they all already know what your order is going to be. It’s a more personal experience. You’re not just some random person on the web. It’s just more convenient and, as everyone knows, convenience is the number one driving factor of ecommerce.”

You can also add dynamic checkout buttons to increase mobile transactions. Once a customer has selected their preferred payment method — ApplePay, PayPal, or Amazon Pay — Shopify’s backend remembers their choice and automatically presents their choice on all future visits.

As mobile commerce continues to grow, businesses need to provide an integrated and seamless experience across all consumer touchpoints that makes multi-channel selling as natural as possible.

13. Pay for Amazon’ Attention

Roughly half of all product searches now start on Amazon, according to a recent Mary Meeker Report. Yet, there are many reasons why merchants fear Bezos’ trillion-dollar beast:

Data via Sellbrite

If you plan to leverage Amazon this holiday season, it pays to pay. Attention on Amazon demands a savvy strategy that includes full-scale Amazon Advertising:

  • Amazon Search for product searches
  • Amazon Ad Platform for static and video assets
  • Amazon Media Group for higher-end managed services

Also, providing a seamless brand experience and consistent fulfillment processes for all orders should be top of mind.

14. Go Native on Social

In 2015, Facebook went beyond ads and allowed merchants to create and run native shops. Then, Pinterest added native functionality with Buyable Pins. Bots and Messenger integrations weren’t far behind.

Last year, Instagram joined the party by launching Shopping on Instagram. ORO Los Angeles seized this opportunity early and quickly achieved a 29.3% lift in month-over-month revenue directly attributable to Instagram.

To achieve similar success, it’s critical that you develop a social promotion and advertising strategy that drives increased mobile traffic and conversions on your native social selling channels like:

15. Mimic Offsite Platforms Onsite

You can also mimic offsite platforms via your own storefront.

MVMT Watches features an Instagram shop — powered by Foursixty — at the bottom of its site to help mobile users quickly browse its product line.

Users can click and scroll through MVMT’s latest Instagram posts, view more images and pricing, and click on a single “Add to Cart” button.

In addition, MVMT also leverages a host of traditionally offsite multi-channel and mobile-first elements like:

  • Full-screen product images
  • User-generated content and reviews
  • Additional “Styled on Instagram” visuals
  • Omni-present Add to Cart Button with price

16. Run More Campaigns, Faster

Running flash sales and special promotions during Black Friday Cyber Monday used to mean someone on the Frankies Bikinis team had to stay up late to turn on all of the assets and verify that everything was running smoothly.

But since the release of Launchpad — a free ecommerce automation tool for Shopify Plus merchants that makes it easy to schedule, execute and monitor events such as sales, product releases, inventory restocks, and content changes, the team has been sleeping a lot better.

Frankies Bikinis used Launchpad to launch several new products last year which has helped the brand achieve the following results:

  • One launch earned $150,000 in an hour with one style selling out in two minutes
  • The company is on track to grow year-over-year sales more than 400%

Instead of two massive product launches a year Frankies now launches a new collection every month, thanks to Launchpad.

Frankies Bikinis recent Black Friday and Cyber Monday events used Launchpad to automatically roll out and roll back discounts, theme changes, and products

17. Kill the Coupons and Codes

Customizing seasonal promotions on your ecommerce site is now a lot easier with the help of Shopify Scripts which gives you the control of self-hosted ecommerce combined with the power, security, and reliability of Shopify Plus.

Using the Script Editor app, you can create scripts that run each time a customer adds items to their online cart. These scripts can have many uses, from discounting products with specific tags to running promotions such as "buy 2, get 1 free," or a free gift with purchase.

On Cyber Monday 2017, Brooklinen created a tiered strategy that drove onsite conversions and increased average order values through spending thresholds:

Thanks to a custom Script, customers saw an overlay appear over their screen offering a free gift choice as soon as their cart exceeded the first threshold of $150.

It’s a strategy called “optimizing closest to the money”: using Shopify Scripts, merchants can customize their checkout experience to (1) reduce shopping-cart abandonment and (2) increase average order value.

Brooklinen also set up three other discount “thresholds” that automatically took place at the cart level:

  1. Spend $250 amount and get $50 off
  2. Spend $500 amount and get $100 off
  3. Spend $800 amount and get $200 off

18. Automate Front and Backend Productivity

Shopify Flow enables you to automate nearly any customer-facing or back-office process you can imagine; it also stores and executes triggers, conditions, and actions you specify, without any coding.

Merchants can automate business tasks for Black Friday Cyber Monday, such as:

  • Customer service
  • Fraud prevention
  • Design and development requests
  • Merchandising
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Managing inventory

Shopify Flow Loyalty Ecommerce Automation Workflow Black Friday

Velour Lashes and its agency plan to use Shopify Flow for Black Friday Cyber Monday 2018 sales. One of its 12 Days of Christmas sales events last year involved an offer to double loyalty points through Loyalty Lion.

Without Flow, the Velour CS team had to manually add points via the admin when an order was created.

This year, Velour Lashes will use a similar workflow to the one below which triggers the points to be added automatically if a discount code like “DOUBLEPOINTS” is used:

19. Go IRL with Pop-Up Shops

While online sales soared last Black Friday Cyber Monday, customers still spent billions at physical retail stores.

Even if you run a pureplay ecommerce business, you can use pop-up shops to engage with and sell to customers in-person during the holidays.

Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC, explains, “The convergence of physical and digital continues to be important as consumers have come to expect an integrated experience allowing them to buy products through a variety of channels. … [O]mnichannel retailers are the real winners this season.”

You can also gain new customers. Katherine Hill, Director of Offline at BaubleBar, explained to Retail TouchPoints: “We see about half of the people who walk into our pop-up shops have never heard of our brand before. … It’s a very strong customer acquisition channel for us.”

Pop-up shops also help customers discover unique and affordable gifts. A poll by PopUp Republic (reported by VMSD) showed that 61% of people said the top reason to visit a pop-up store was to “find seasonal products.” Other key reasons were to find new and unique products, to shop locally, and to benefit from great prices.

20. Personalize by User’s Device

By detecting a user’s mobile device, your offer can dynamically adapt to reflect the value of items in a customer’s cart relative to the free-shipping threshold.

For example, if the first message displays “FREE SHIPPING to TORONTO with a $50 purchase” and a user adds a $25 product to their cart, it’ll change to “YOU’RE $25 AWAY FROM FREE SHIPPING” to encourage users to buy more.

Black Friday 2016 data revealed that iOS users for a large outdoor merchant’s site spent about $110 on average while Android shoppers had an AOV of around $85.

Using device targeting, you can use a page curl notification to display a 20% off coupon for orders larger than $100 for Android users while that same 20% off promotion could be applied to more expensive items for iOS users.

21. Integrate Rewards at Checkout

Enabling customers to claim loyalty rewards directly from their cart with one click can also help grow AOVs, while seamlessly integrating with the natural user journey.

Using LoyaltyLion’s In-Cart Rewards and Instant Points, Dr. Axe increased …

  • Average order values (AOV) by 36%
  • Purchase frequency by 100% compared to non-members

Luxury hoodie brand Evy’s Tree also uses Shopify Scripts to offer a variety of automated discounts and to repackage its pricing and merchandise at the cart level. The company enhances customer experiences by:

  • Creating Scripts to automatically calculate and apply discounts in real-time at checkout
  • Pairing Scripts up with Smile.io, which helps merchants earn loyalty via the Shopify Plus platform

Since the company integrated rewards and automated discounts at checkout, Evy Tree’s retention rate, or the number of customers making more than one purchase, is over 50%.

22. Rescue Abandoned Carts by Any Means Necessary

Shopping cart abandonment is still high in online retail – at roughly 76% worldwide according to Statista. Email marketing has long been an important tool used by ecommerce merchants to rescue abandoned carts.

But new multi-channel, cross-device solutions, like Facebook Messenger bot ShopMessage, are growing in importance for millennials. ShopMessage, which brands like Fashion Nova and MVMT Watches, turns conversations into purchases by enabling ecommerce businesses to:

  • Recover abandoned carts
  • Build a Messenger subscriber base
  • Trigger personalized conversations by onsite behavior

If a Pura Vida customer views a product on the website but doesn’t buy right away, Pura Vida can automatically send this customer a message on Messenger to offer a discount using ShopMessage.

It takes one click for customers to return to the Shopify Plus checkout and see their cart reconstructed, with an automatically applied discount.

For Pura Vida, ShopMessage has generated:

  • 26% clickthrough rate
  • Over 400,000 sent messages
  • 10% lift to top-line revenue from subscribers logged into Facebook

Pura Vida also uses Retention Rocket to rescue abandoned carts and automate marketing through SMS – sending an average of 987 messages a day with a conversion rate of 14.6%.

23. Step Up Onsite Search

On-site search is vital to helping customers find holiday gifts online in an instant. Merchants who don’t ramp up site search over BFCM will lose out because...

  • 80% of consumers will abandon a site after a poor search experience
  • Consumers expect internal search engines to know what they’re looking for; however, 85% of searches don’t return what the user sought
  • People who perform a site search are twice as likely to convert

IMA’s catalog of 7,500 products has unique attributes such as type, time period, and nationality; some products need to be listed under multiple names and descriptions. As a result, on-site search used to be a major challenge.

After installing InstantSearch+, IMA created detailed rules that fit its shoppers’ behavior and requirements, so customers could more easily find what they wanted to buy….

IMA’s investment in InstantSearch+ has had a huge impact: conversion rates from visitors who use IMA’s custom search engine are 7 times higher than who browse.

For a deeper dive into the topic, refer to this post: Ecommerce Site Search: Best Practices and What to Look For in a Solution.

24. Prepare for Last-Minute Shipping

According to Dropoff’s 2018 Holiday Survey, “three out of four (77 percent) consumers plan to do last-minute shopping, which is a 15 percent increase compared to the 2017 results.” To capitalize on this opportunity, ecommerce merchants need to have a solid last-minute shipping plan.

Here are two key dates to keep in mind...

December 11: Green Monday

The term Green Monday was originally coined by eBay in 2007 – referring to the Monday that is at least ten days before Christmas. Consumers are in full swing of the holiday shopping season on this day which means it’s a great day to beef up your marketing efforts.

December 18: Free Shipping Day

During Free Shipping Day, participating ecommerce stores offer free shipping on their items and guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve.

During Black Friday Cyber Monday 2017, Dormify wanted to set shipping expectations up front with customers as they shopped on the site.

The solution was to implement a split cart functionality. Dormify was able to show whether products in a customer’s cart were eligible to ship within a quick time frame. If the products couldn’t arrive in time, they were identified in the cart as shipping separately.

For more ideas on maximizing free shipping opportunities in 2018, read: How to Think Inside the Box & Offer Free Shipping That Increases Profit Margins.

25. Convert Returns into Retention

Impulse purchases are far too common during the frenzy of Black Friday Cyber Monday deals...so are the cancellation and return requests. Don’t punish customers for returning items with a complicated return policy or poor experience.

According to Return Magic, which was recently acquired by Shopify,

  • 58% of shoppers mentioned that adding return friction with extra email or phone communication results in a negative return experience – especially when it comes to tracking packages
  • 80% of consumers expect free returns, while only 25% of retailers offer free returns
  • 72% of consumers said they would spend more and buy more often with merchants that make the return experience simple
  • 89% of repeat customers who had a good return experience are likely to buy again

That’s why it’s crucial to properly display a clear return policy to earn your customers’ (who may have been burned in the past) trust.

It’s also essential to make the returns process as simple as possible to save you and your customers time and money.

With Return Magic, you can automatically generate labels, refunds, and emails to save time and enhance your customers’ shopping experience. You can also customize your portal to look and feel like your website.

These simple, yet important services are table stakes to compete with the likes of Amazon.

And since “thousands of items across hundreds of industries are expected to be returned in exchange for cash or other products” in 2018, Return Magic recommends the following tactics for a frictionless BFCM return experience:

  • Create specific Black Friday policies for final sale & discounted items
  • Invest in automation (e.g., Shopify Flow) to handle large volumes
  • Offer many ways to refund your shoppers and leverage gift cards
  • Be transparent, send email updates, and make tracking simple

26. Invest in Post-Holiday Loyalty

Once you’ve encouraged customers to buy on your site during BFCM, you should use the opportunity to hook them as a customer long-term.

For 64% of retailers, shoppers acquired during BFCM have a lower lifetime value (LTV) than shoppers acquired at any other time of the year.

You can increase repeat purchases by personalizing emails and offering loyalty rewards by enhancing welcome emails and post-purchase thank you emails with references to your the loyalty program (e.g., let the customer know how many points they have earned and the rewards available).

LoyaltyLion integrates with a number of email service providers (ESPs) — such as Dotmailer, Klaviyo, Bronto and HubSpot — so you can automatically enhance customer emails with loyalty information, such as point totals.

You should design your loyalty program to reward customers immediately after their first purchase because customers who redeem loyalty rewards spend twice as much as those who don’t.

Emails sent through LoyaltyLion, like the one above, perform considerably better than the industry average – with a 35% CTR – generating 3% of a retailer’s annual revenue.

Also, the psychology of a loyalty program email is completely different:

  • Loyalty emails include rewards that your customers have worked to earn, so they don’t want to lose those points
  • They’re one of the few emails your customers receive that is 100% personalized

27. Give ‘Em Reasons to Come Back

After the BFCM online shopping season is over, it’s time to tease your customers with exciting reasons to return to your site in the New Year. Here are three tactics that work well...

(1) Award Extra Points for Visiting During January Sales

You can also double or triple the points a customer earns for a visit during your January sales to increase participation.

(2) Offer a Gift for Purchases Made in January or February

To reduce post-holiday seasonal slumps, consider offering your loyalty program members exclusive gifts when they make a purchase in January or February.

(3) Offer Gift Cards or Codes During BFCM for Future Sales

You can also encourage return visits after the holidays by offering gift cards when customers make a purchase during Black Friday Cyber Monday. And according to Gift Card Granny, 65% of gift-card holders spend an extra 38% beyond the value of the card.

Bonus 1: 🎁 Contingency Plan for Black-Friday Trouble

Our Merchant Acceleration team has developed a Troubleshooting Guide (below) to help you sequentially resolve any issues at hand. Simply click the image to download a high-resolution version to save for later:

Black Friday Ecommerce Troubleshooting Guide

The following steps will also help you to be prepared:

(1) See if you can replicate the issue

Perhaps someone is having trouble loading the payment information page to add a credit card. Determine what device are they using, in which browser and version?

Get screenshots to help your team replicate, or reverse-engineer the problem someone’s having. It might be affecting other customers as well. You’ll also have to filter out “local” issues that may not be caused by your site or servers.

(2) Determine if this is an isolated event

Shopify’s Status Page can also help you determine if this is an isolated event or system-wide issue. Engineers are performing 24/7 monitoring and will update any unusual problems within minutes of occurring.

(3) Check your third-party apps, themes, and plugins

A rule of thumb is to always test new apps and themes on your “backup” or staging development store, first. Then, replicate the exact working conditions as your live production site should be able to spot problems on the backup version before pushing the problematic app combination to the site your visitors are hitting.

(4) Lean on Shopify’s Guru Team

They can also help you test drive these settings.Connect through email, chat, or phone by heading over to Settings > Account page.

(5) Use the Live Chat Option via Your Shopify Plus Admin Account

Bonus 2: 🎁 Contingency Plan for Black-Friday Success

Holiday events can generate up to 3–4x your average daily sales. But you don’t want to wake up the day after Black Friday or Cyber Monday to find out that you sold out of ALL of your inventory without a backup plan.

That’s exactly what happened to Brut Force in 2015, and the company was dead in the water for the rest of the holiday season.

Here are a few Shopify products you can use to avoid this situation...

(1) Use Inventory Levels

Inventory Levels help you monitor your product stock numbers. It’s even more powerful if you combine your inventory levels with Shopify Flow to automatically reorder products.

(2) Set Up Inventory Management Workflows

You can ensure new products are ordered in time by planning multiple steps in advance, like automatically removing products from your site to avoid stockouts via Shopify Flow.

A workflow like the one above can help you identify conditions like when to send you a Slack message to notify you that your inventory levels have dipped below, say 10 items.

(3) Enlist Shopify Capital for Rolling Inventory

Shopify Capital is a cash advance product that helps businesses quickly secure financing and accelerate business growth. In 2016, Brute Force used Shopify Capital to double its USA-made inventory without compromising quality.

Since then, Brute Force has used Shopify Capital to maintain what the company calls rolling inventory. Instead of ordering stock quarterly, Brute Force now forecasts demand and uses its liquidity to order more of its top-selling items every week.

In all, Brute Force has taken four Shopify Capital advances totaling nearly a half million dollars to:

  • Grow non-holiday monthly sales to $200,000
  • Generate ~$5 million in revenue in 2018

Ready or Not, Black Friday Ecommerce Is Coming …

Black November is almost here and online sales will continue to climb in 2018. Ecommerce growth, plus increased shopping on mobile devices, is dramatically shifting consumer behaviors.

Trends like ecommerce automation, mobile commerce, and personalization will shape the future of retail.

Start preparing for these trends now and you can maximize success this holiday season. You should also be ready in case your success exceeds your expectations...and inventory levels.

About the Author

Andrea Wahbe is a freelance B2B marketing strategist and corporate storyteller who writes about Canadian SMEs, marketing, and digital media trends. Follow her on Twitter.

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