It’s happening! The roller coaster ride that is 2020 continues straight into the most unusual Black Friday and Cyber Monday of the 21st century. BFCM is dead! Long live BFCM.
Yes, many stores will be closed or restricted to a certain capacity. And yes, far less in-person shopping is going to happen this year. But Black Friday is not dead. Quite the opposite: The high number of people working from home in the US means that we might have a larger BFCM than usual and that it might even stretch into the rest of the week as people use shopping to relieve stress about the world. Considering 40% of consumers reported purchasing online more this year than ever before, it is essential to optimize for the eCommerce experience.
While we expect that most people this year will think of Black Friday and Cyber Monday as two distinct events, we view these two events in 2020—and beyond—as functionally identical, a single shopping event that spans four days. Within a year or two, we expect most people will come to agree with us.
So how are merchants to handle this wild 2020 season?
Fear not! We have you covered. Here are our five tips to crush the start of the holiday season in 2020.
Tactic #1: Free Shipping For All Of The Things
Amazon used Prime shipping to ruin shipping for every merchant in the United States. You can complain about that, or you can build shipping costs into your product pricing strategy and offer free shipping on all of your orders.
An essential lesson of retail: If there is something you can’t change, you might as well learn to like it.
Tactic #2: Hope For The Worst, Plan For The Worst
At the start of the holiday buying season, a high order volume that creates a cascading series of issues—think orders outpacing inventory synchronization or fulfillment—is a terrific problem to have in retail. Assume this is going to happen by stress testing each step in your digital order workflow. Pay close attention to out-of-stock behaviors and your fulfillment partners.
There is an instructive lesson in an old story from Netflix about a system they built called the Chaos Monkey. The Chaos Monkey was a real asshole of a software program that would wander around the Netflix IT infrastructure cloud and randomly blow discrete shit up. Why? Because it forced the DevOps team to deal with real situations that would eventually occur and make the system more robust. It turns out that this is a great way to build a resilient stack.
It’s sort of like what they teach you on the first day of IT school: If you haven’t restored a backup, your backups don’t exist.
Tactic #3: Put Your Gift Card Offers Front And Center
This one is obvious but often overlooked. A gift card is the perfect escape hatch for a rushed buyer, and a rushed buyer is the best buyer. Help them out by making it as easy as possible to throw money at their problem.
Tactic #4: Tune Your Email Strategy For The Season
Holiday brings a surge in traffic and attention to your brand. Take a moment to really focus your email outreach for the start of the holiday and ruthlessly target your campaigns. The more narrow you get, the more impact you can have on your traffic surge.
Tactic #5: Plan A Data War Room
Ensure that your Google Analytics configuration and event tracking are flawless and fully deployed to the current (and possibly new) UX on your site. Double-check that you have all the data you need tracking correctly.
Next, carefully plan how you are going to monitor the data flow in real-time. Think through what kinds of insights you will want to derive during the four days of holiday 2020. Build the report or set of reports you need to power this real-time monitoring. Carve out time each day to watch this report and a Slack war room channel to focus the team.
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