22 Black Friday Tips ECommerce Experts Wish They Knew Sooner
August 17, 2022
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a huge opportunity for eCommerce sellers. The five-day period from Thanksgiving through the following Monday is the biggest sales weekend of the year. According to a survey conducted by the NRF, nearly 180 million Americans made purchases over the holiday weekend in 2021. Of these, 127.8 million people shopped online.
There are plenty of consumers to go around, but with all of the competition out there, it’s important for businesses to make sure they’re ready.
We asked eCommerce experts and business owners what they wish they knew sooner about Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM). They shared the lessons they have learned over the years as well as the strategies they are using to succeed in 2022.
Read on to find out how you can maximize your sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
1. It’s never too early to start preparing
A lot of planning goes into a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. Since it occurs at the end of November, many sellers don’t truly start preparing until the summer months. According to Christy Pyrz, Chief Marketing Officer of Paradigm Peptides, however, that’s much too late.
“Businesses can never start planning too early,” she told us. “The amount of digital and social assets that go into this event takes a considerable amount of time and effort from the whole team.”
Chrisy’s eCommerce business sells SARMS, Peptides, and Nootropics to consumers all over the world. As CMO, she has learned that planning for BFCM is “a year-round ordeal.”
“Many brands will start the process nine months in advance, but that may not even be enough time,” she claims. “This holiday is an all hands on deck effort and requires 360 days of attention.”
2. Make sure you have a competitive marketing strategy
Marketing is a key aspect of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Monte Deere, CEO of Kizik, recommends checking on your competition to make sure your strategy will stand up to them.
Monte, who sells shoes that people can put on hands free, compares BFCM to a race. “Cyber Monday is the finish line, and everything leading up to it is the race. To cross that finish line first, you need to train and run faster than your competition.
The best way to do that, he says, is to “research and monitor what your competition is doing for the sales event, and adapt your strategy to one up them and stand out.”
Spend some time investigating your competitors’ marketing strategies and find ways to set yourself apart. “Preparing for multiple approaches across social media will ensure you don’t replicate what others are doing and dilute your impact,” Monte advises. “If their tone is comedic, go inspirational with your messaging, or vice versa. It isn’t enough to simply announce a sale price for a successful Cyber Monday. You also need to get the word out and make your voice loud enough to be heard amongst your competition.”
3. Stock up on inventory
Since you’re hoping for record sales during the holiday season, you want to make sure you have something to sell. That’s why Eric Elggren’s top tip for Black Friday and Cyber Monday is to stock up.
Eric is the co-founder of eCommerce company Andar, which sells leather handbags and accessories. He advises online sellers to make sure they have enough supply to meet demand. “Beef up your inventory with enough merchandise so that you won’t wind up being sold out before your customers are finished shopping.”
Stocking up on inventory early is vital, because it takes time for shipments to arrive. Make sure you plan ahead and stock up as soon as possible.
“The holiday season should be typically your best time of the year sales-wise, and you don’t want to lose out on the opportunity to make an even greater profit than you thought possible,” Eric told us.
4. Make sure your inventory reflects the present, not the past
While there’s no doubt that stocking up on inventory is necessary to avoid stockouts, it can be hard to know how much to order. Scott O’Brien, Head of Sales at PPC Ad Lab reminds eCommerce sellers that inventory forecasts should “reflect the present, not the past.”
Figuring out just how much inventory you need is challenging. You don’t want to order too little and wind up stocking out, but you don’t want excess inventory either. Forecasting tools can help, but don’t forget to take current affairs into account.
“Utilizing historical data as a guide for evaluating inventory requirements is generally a prudent practice,” Scott wrote. “Amazon sellers that have expertise in selling on Black Friday and during the fourth quarter can anticipate how much inventory they will need to stock for this year’s event by analyzing their sales from past years with any growth or reduction in recent months.”
But this shouldn’t be the only information you use when deciding how much inventory you need, Scott warned us. “Keep in mind that this year could be significantly different from previous years due to the influence of shipping concerns on consumer shopping behavior.”
5. Don’t overcomplicate things
If you want potential customers to ultimately click that “buy” button, you need to make sure that your offers are simple and clear. William Kemper, owner of Kemper DMD, explained why this is so important for eCommerce sellers.
“There is a phenomenon known as the option overload effect that occurs when there are too many good bargains,” he wrote. “They’ll ultimately abandon your online store since they’re unable to make a confident purchase selection.”
To avoid this, make sure shoppers know exactly what they’re getting from you. “Make it clear what you have to offer,” Dr. Kemper advised. “Don’t mislead prospective purchasers by making your offer too complicated.”
Encourage consumers to go ahead and make a purchase by keeping things simple. “Create a bargain that clients adore and don’t make them think about any other deals,” Dr. Kemper suggested.
6. Introduce sales well before Black Friday
While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the big names when it comes to sales, more and more consumers are doing their shopping before the holiday weekend. That’s why Caitlyn Parish, CEO and Founder of bridesmaid dress company Cicinia, reminds eCommerce sellers to introduce sales early.
“For the last couple of years, what I was seeing was that we were not making as many sales as previously during Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales,” she told us. Concerned, Caitlyn dug into the data to figure out what was going on. She found a surprising answer.
“Big brands, especially, big-name online retailers like Amazon and Walmart, start introducing their Black Friday/ Cyber Monday deals as early as early October,” Caitlyn learned. “What’s more, is that research on spending trends of consumers during these periods showed that they tend to make bigger and more important purchases before the actual day of sale.”
According to the NRF’s Annual Thanksgiving Weekend Consumer Survey, 49% of shoppers reported taking advantage of sales in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. “Businesses like mine were losing out on clients because they had already made their purchases by the time we announced our sales,” Caitlyn wrote.
If you want to avoid missing out on potential customers, it’s wise to introduce sales as early as October.
7. Maintain price competitiveness
There are a lot of elements that go into Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but if your prices aren’t competitive, consumers aren’t going to buy your products. “The promise of promotions and lightning deals is what attracts customers on the days,” Kavin Patel, the founder and CEO of landing page builder Convrrt reminded us.
It’s important to research your competitors to make sure you’re offering competitive prices. “Examine your goods to ensure your prices are comparable to those of other merchants in your niche,” advised Kavin.
Lowering your prices might impact profits, but that’s ok in the short term. “In order to maximize sales on Black Friday, it may be worthwhile to reduce the ROI (return on investment) on specific products in order to increase sales,” Kavin wrote. “This can help you increase your organic sales rankings, generate additional product reviews, and build brand recognition.” In other words, it can help your business in the long run.
That being said, Kavin cautioned us against lowering all prices. “You do not need to reduce pricing on all of your products, especially your best-selling items that are already doing well in the fourth quarter,” he added.
8. Begin prepping your audience early
Consumers are flooded with commercials and advertisements leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Many consumers decide where they plan to shop based on the information they get from these campaigns. If you want to beat the competition, make sure to reach out to your audience early and often.
Ariane Turner, founder and CEO of skincare company Look Good Live Well, wishes she knew “how far in advance you truly need to prepare for a successful Black Friday/Cyber Monday.” Like many eCommerce sellers, Ariane learned that in order to maximize sales, it’s essential to prepare your audience well in advance.
“Campaigns and email flows should be finalized by September (at the LATEST).” Ariane advised. These advertising techniques take time to put together and carry out, and you don’t want to be caught off guard in the weeks leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
In order to attract as many shoppers as possible, “get clear on your offer, and begin prepping your audience early and often.”
9. Consider your earnings
Setting a competitive price is important, but if it comes at too high a cost for your business, it may not be worth it. While some eCommerce stores have the cash flow to handle a lower ROI for a period of time, it may do more harm than good for others.
“Online retailers’ eyes light up while discussing Black Friday,” wrote Kim Abrams, CEO of Abrams Roofing. “However, many of them lose sight of the distinction between income and profit when they’re caught up in the frenzy of the gold rush.” This is particularly true for smaller businesses, or those that are just getting started.
“If your profit margins are slim to begin with, consider what may happen if you didn’t follow the crowd,” Kim suggested. It might not benefit your business to lower prices too much. “While increasing sales by offering enticing incentives is a worthwhile endeavor, if your profit margins are falling, there is no point.”
10. Determine your advertising budget in advance
Marketing and advertising can be very costly, and it’s important to know where you want your money to go. Steve Elliot, franchise owner of Restoration1, advises putting a plan in place to avoid spending too much.
“Even with so many clients to go around, the Amazon marketplace becomes very competitive during high-volume sales events such as this one, as vendors vie for keyword positions,” he wrote. “Pay-per-click advertisements and other promotions such as Lightning Deals are wonderful for attracting customers to your products, but depending on the keywords you are targeting, outbidding other sellers in your area can be pretty costly.”
It’s important not to spend more than you can afford on advertising, so set a budget in advance. “Create a strategy before Black Friday so that you are not overwhelmed on that day.”
In addition, choose carefully when deciding which advertising campaigns to invest in. “It may be advantageous to reduce your return on investment (ROI) on some products with costly advertising campaigns in order to increase sales and improve your organic sales rankings.”
11. Offer consumers something unique
A lot of online retailers get stuck on the idea of low prices and fail to set their businesses apart from their competitors. After all, with everyone introducing sales and special deals, you won’t stand out unless you offer something more.
Aviad Faruz, CEO of personalized Jewelry company FARUZO New York, told us he wishes he realized that sooner. “I wish I knew that it’s not just about having the lowest prices,” he wrote. “There’s a lot of competition, and shoppers are looking for the best deals.”
With so many buying options out there, shoppers are looking for something special. “You need to stand out from the crowd and offer something unique – it’s not just about getting the sale,” Aviad clarified.
This is also a good opportunity to improve your customer experience. “It’s about providing an excellent experience for your customers and building loyalty for the long term,” urged Aviad. This is great for your business as it can lead to good reviews and even repeat customers.
12. Hire enough workers to accommodate consumers
Depending on the scale of your business, you may have employees working on different aspects of sales, from marketing to order fulfillment. Since Black Friday and Cyber Monday are bound to be busy, make sure you have the manpower you need to keep up.
Rachel Davis, a content writer at SoulFactors, learned this the hard way. “I have missed out on being prepared before the peak season of Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” she told us. “But now I have learned and observed that more customers mean more staff are needed, so I have to hire additional employees to better accommodate consumers.”
You don’t want to run into a situation where your employees can’t handle the workload. In order to avoid this, plan ahead so new employees can be trained and teams have time to prepare for the big event. “I must think now which teams need extra support so they can make plans and strategies before the said date,” Rachel added.
13. Make sure your store can handle the rise in traffic
Once you have everything set and ready to go for Black Friday, the last thing you want is technical difficulties. That can ruin your chances for a successful sales holiday.
Therefore, Brian Case, the director of eCommerce and retail at Selkirk, says it’s important that online sellers check their website’s ability to handle the increase in traffic. “One of the most frustrating things about the internet is the speed with which information can be accessed,” Brian wrote. “It is possible for your site to crash if it receives too many requests all at once.” You don’t want this challenge to impact sales, so make sure you won’t be faced with any unexpected problems or delays.
“If a delay occurs, users are likely to return to the search page, where they can find the answer to their question on another site,” Brian pointed out. “Your hosting company should be able to handle the increased traffic that Black Friday/Cyber Monday brings.”
14. Consider outsourcing advertising
Advertising is a huge part of a successful Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Unless you’re a marketing wiz, it can be a challenge to figure out which strategies and tools will maximize your sales. There’s a lot of competition and the stakes are high.
Calloway Cook, the president of supplement company Illuminate Labs, recommends outsourcing advertising for BFCM for this very reason. “We do most of our advertising in-house, but the strategy is simply different for BFCM weekend,” he explained.
In the past, Illuminate Labs struggled to keep up with the marketing tactics that competitors were using. “We noted that our conversion and overall profitability decreased over this selling holiday because our competitors were using different ad tactics and selling at lower rates than they usually do.”
Once he realized this, Calloway decided to hire a PPC agency for Black Friday and Cyber Monday advertising to help increase conversion.
15. Exit-intent offers work like a charm
Shoppers have a lot of choices to make on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Many potential customers browse around a lot without actually making a purchase.
“Most eCommerce stores experience insane bounce rates in the Black Friday season,” wrote Elice Max, co-owner and marketing director of EMUCoupon. “Customers click on the website, browse around a bit and then leave, never to come back.”
This isn’t great for your conversion rate. But fortunately, Elice has advice for turning this around. “These customers can be pulled back in just as they are about to leave,” he insisted, by implementing exit-intent offers. “As a last ditch effort, you can throw an offer their way that they simply can’t refuse. This could be a generous discount offer, a BOGO deal or a free shipping coupon.”
Exit-intent offers can reel customers back in and convince them to go ahead and make the purchase. Remember, “you don’t have much to lose here as these folks were already on their way out”.
16. Launch a countdown to build buzz
Another way to get customers excited about your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales is with a countdown. “Just consider how much everyone enjoys a countdown on New Year’s Day!” Jason Porter, senior investment manager at Scottish Heritage Pvt Ltd wrote.
You can use a countdown timer on your homepage to build excitement leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, or a countdown until the sales end. “Countdowns build excitement and anticipation, which boosts traffic and sales,” Jason advised.
“Setting a countdown timer on the front page of your online business is an excellent method because every visitor will see the limited-time offer and feel compelled to engage.”
17. It’s a great opportunity to clear stock
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are typically considered a time to order more inventory and increase sales. While that is true, the holiday also offers sellers another valuable opportunity. “The one thing I wish I knew sooner about Black Friday/Cyber Monday is that it is the best opportunity to clear stocks,” wrote Lily Will, founder and designer at Ever Wallpaper.
In her years working in eCommerce, Lily learned that she can use the holiday sales season to offer discounts and promotions on items that are nearing their expiration date, or those she no longer wishes to sell. “In the past, we only took this opportunity to increase our sales and give discounts to our customers,” explained Lily. “However, we have noticed there are expired items left to us that cannot be sold anymore.”
Now, instead of focusing solely on best-sellers and newer products, Lily takes the opportunity to clear out her inventory. “During this season, we offer products that are close to expiration to maximize all of our stocks.”
18. Use all available advertising channels
As shoppers are gearing up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you want them to know that your store is offering great deals on the items they’re looking for. Getting the word out to as many shoppers as possible is crucial.
Klaudio Fejzaj, head of SEO and growth at Lentiamo, recommends using every advertising channel you can in order to reach your audience. “Black Friday and Cyber Monday should be seen as a 360 campaign so use all available channels that your business might have such as email, website promos as well as paid campaigns (Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc..).” Klaudio uses this strategy for his company, which sells designer eyewear.
You’ll reach different groups of people through these different channels. Email campaigns will alert your mailing list that you have great BFCM deals, social media can reach potential customers in your niche who haven’t heard of your shop before, and Google can get your message out to people who are looking for what you’re selling.
It’s also a good idea to dress up your website or storefront. For example, a festive banner announcing your sales is a great way to attract customers’ attention once they reach your page.
19. Build excitement through email marketing
You want to get customers excited for your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. That way, they’ll head straight to your shop when the sales begin. Tiffany Payne, Marketing Specialist at online pharmacy service Pharmacy Online, recommends doing this through email marketing.
“One of the best marketing strategies is email marketing, especially for promoting holiday deals,” Tiffany explained. “Send a series of emails leading up to the shopping holiday, commonly referred to as a drip campaign, to get the most out of your Black Friday emails.”
Plan out your email campaign in advance, and tease sales well before they begin. This will let customers know what you have to offer and increase their excitement about your deals. It’s a great, cost-effective way to increase sales.
20. Motivate customers with scarcity and urgency
Once you get shoppers to your storefront, you still need to convince them to buy your products. A basic understanding of consumer psychology and decision making can help you increase your conversion rate.
According to Gerald Zaltman, a professor at Harvard Business School, 95% of purchasing decisions are made subconsciously. Therefore, if you want to convince a potential customer to go through with a purchase, you need to play to their emotions.
James Angel, co-founder at business phone service DYL, advises getting at that feeling of FOMO, or fear of missing out, by creating a feeling of scarcity and urgency. “Creating an atmosphere of scarcity and impending doom is at the heart of Black Friday strategy,” he wrote. “As a result, the better you’ll be at persuading potential customers to buy now rather than later.”
When customers feel that they only have a limited amount of time to take advantage of a deal or sale, they will be more likely to make a quick decision and make the purchase. Similarly, if they believe there is only a limited quantity remaining, they will want to snatch it up before it’s too late. “Authentic scarcity and urgency, as always, have the greatest impact,” James added.
21. Continually monitor your listings and sales
After months of preparation, you might believe you can finally take it easy once Black Friday actually begins. This is a mistake, according to Robert Walden, founder of Vehicle Freak.
“On Black Friday, it may be tempting to take it easy after putting in the time and effort necessary to go through your listings, develop marketing plans, and stock your inventory. Refuse this impulse,” he warned.
During the big sales days, it’s crucial to constantly monitor your inventory, marketing campaigns, and competition to make sure everything is running smoothly. If something goes out of stock, for example, you should update it on your website and stop running a campaign for that item. If you see a marketing campaign that isn’t working, you may want to make a change.
“As you and your competitors win or lose advertising space, sell out of products, or make on-the-fly adjustments, prices and buy boxes will fluctuate continuously throughout the day,” Robert wrote. “Maintaining awareness of these swings can have a significant impact on your Black Friday and Cyber Monday profit margins.”
22. BFCM is just the start of holiday shopping season
Black Friday and Cyber Monday occur at the end of November, but the holiday season continues through December. That means there’s still plenty of work to do even after the Thanksgiving sales weekend is over.
“Remember that these two days are just the start of the holiday shopping season,” urged Brandon Wilkes, marketing manager at The Big Phone Store. “To keep the momentum going, make sure you have a plan for the rest of the season.”
Many consumers don’t finish their shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and others ramp up their purchases during December. If you take a break after the BFCM weekend, you’ll miss out on the opportunity for more sales.
“Keep your promotions and discounts going, and continue to provide excellent customer service,” advised Brandon. “If you can make Black Friday and Cyber Monday a success, you’ll be well on your way to a successful holiday season.”
Funding for your Black Friday/Cyber Monday needs
Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be here before you know it. We hope that the above tips will help make this your most successful sales holiday yet.
However, it takes a healthy cash flow to purchase enough inventory to grow your business, and marketing campaigns can add up. That’s where 8fig’s funding solution comes in. 8fig can fund up to 90% of your supply chain, ensuring that you have the cash flow you need to maximize your sales. Sign up today and get your personalized funding offer!
Rebecca is an eCommerce writer at 8fig. She strives to provide sellers with the information and support they need to succeed in the ever changing eCommerce space.