Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) has blossomed into an important and highly profitable sales event for Shopify merchants. Spurred by the pandemic, shoppers were forced online to find the best deals, often turning to DTC brands. In 2021, Shopify merchants had their best year yet, racking in $6.3 billion in sales from 47 million shoppers.
BFCM 2023, however, comes with a challenge that has been absent for the past few years - people can now shop in real life. This makes getting your store, deals, and marketing set up and ready ahead of time more important than ever. Our ultimate BFCM to-do list for Shopify merchants will get you equipped in no time.
What to expect in BFCM 2023
To put things into perspective, let’s take a quick look at what to expect from BFCM this year.
- Long-awaiting sales event: BFCM will fall on November 24 and 27 respectively. That aside, you shouldn’t be surprised if sales actually start earlier and finish later.
- Mobile and social media sales are the shining stars: expect to see mobile and social media shopping soar. This will make omnichannel experiences of the utmost importance.
- Personalization as a priority: no longer a buzzword, but an expectation that can be an effective persuader when done right.
- More in-store shopping: with now almost all of the world reverting back to normal, we’re sure to see more consumers flocking to brick-and-mortar stores.
BFCM To-Do List For Shopify Merchants
There are tons of steps that you need to take to ensure that you’re ready for BFCM and can draw shoppers away from brick-and-mortar shops. So, for your ease and convenience, we’ve compiled a simple checklist for you to follow, alongside some tips and apps to power your BFCM.
Prepare Your Inventory and Deals
The first thing you need to do is decide on the products that will go on offer during the holiday sales, come up with the deals, and ensure your stock is in order.
When it comes to choosing products, data is your best friend. Take a look at which of your products have been particularly popular over the past year. You can find this out by looking at your retail sales report by product. It would also be wise to check out the types of items that have been proven to be good sellers during previous BFCM - from both yourself and your competitors.
View a breakdown of the total sales of every product and variant over a set period of time (Source: Shopify)
Once you’re set on your products, be sure to stock up on them beforehand. The last thing you want is to sell out before the holiday sales have ended! You should also check for any changes in lead time with your suppliers, and be aware of cut-off dates for shipping.
Apps like Inventory Planner Forecasting can help to take the guesswork out of managing your inventory for sales events. It uses data from your sales history and vendor lead time to predict when and how much you’ll need to replenish stock. It adjusts according to sales events such as BFCM, and can even automatically create purchase orders and email vendors for you.
Inventory Planner Forecasting is a handy tool for getting your stock ready for BFCM
Next up, finalize the offers you want to give to shoppers. To be able to cast a wider net and increase your sales potential, consider offering a variety of deals. Ones that give the impression of extra savings, such as BOGO and bundles, are particularly great for this.
Set Up Your Marketing Campaigns
Building up excitement and awareness will be crucial for this BFCM. You may be surprised to read that 50% of consumers start their holiday shopping before BFCM. So, you better get the word out early!
Aside from the tried-and-tested email marketing, you should also make use of alternative methods like social media and SMS. Email marketing has taken a bit of a hit recently with Apple’s Hide My Email feature, so you may find that your email campaigns aren’t as effective as they usually are this year. That doesn’t mean you should give up on it completely, it just needs to be supplemented.
When you are creating your email marketing campaign, personalization is number one. The effort you put into creating audiences to ensure your messaging and content is super relevant will be crucial. Research has shown that targeted BFCM emails can gain up to 5.8% more opens.
Now is a good time to ramp up your efforts in getting visitors to your store to sign up. If you aren’t already, implement triggered pop-ups and push notifications with an enticing incentive for them to sign up.
K-Swiss make signing up for marketing via email and SMS more appealing by offering a discount
Additionally, if you’re using Facebook, be sure to sync your Facebook lead ads with your email list. You can do this by integrating Facebook Lead Ads with your email marketing platform. All of this will ensure that you have as many leads as possible for your marketing emails.
Now let’s talk about audience lists. A good strategy is to identify high-value customers and offer them early access or exclusive deals. You can easily create this type of audience in Shopify Audiences by setting parameters that equate to high-value such as lifetime spend.
You should also create audiences based on the products they’ve previously purchased or browsed. You can then curate a selection of relevant products going on sale to present to them. Research from Omnisend suggests that 6-7 products in a newsletter with 2-3 CTAs produce good CTR.
In 2021, Millennials were the biggest online spenders, accounting for over 44% of BFCM digital spend in the US. They are avid users of social media for shopping, so you’ll need to pay attention to these channels as you create your marketing plan.
These consumers will be looking at social platforms for inspiration in the lead-up to BFCM. 54% of Gen Z shoppers and 58% of millennials agree that social platforms are better than online searches for finding out about new products.
Fill your social feeds with mixed forms of media starting once we enter November. Fun ideas for drumming up excitement for BFCM include teaser images, countdown timers, and UGC.
You can also reach these shoppers with social ads as BFCM gets closer. A short video format like on Reels or TikTok works best for Gen Z shoppers, whilst Millennials prefer to have all product details presented to them in a social ad.
Preferred social ad formats for Gen Z (Source: Spice Works)
Don’t let all your social media content sit on your feed, stories on Instagram and Facebook are great ways to get more eyes on your store. In fact, one-third of the most viewed stories on Instagram are created by businesses. This makes it a valuable tool for spreading awareness of your holiday sales.
SMS marketing could be a goldmine for BFCM with ROI having the ability to reach 2000%. Integrate SMS into your holiday sales marketing by first prompting customers to sign up to SMS marketing. You can then send personalized messages directing shoppers straight to their favorite on-sale products.
Omnisend is a great app to help you prepare everything we’ve mentioned for your BFCM marketing campaign. The platform provides email, SMS, pop-ups, and push notifications to help drive your marketing campaigns.
Provide an Omnichannel Experience
It’s now natural for consumers to move from devices and channels as they shop. They may start by scrolling through social media, hop on their computer and browse the site, then go on mobile to purchase. There is one thing they expect whilst doing this multi-device shopping - a seamless experience.
All your products should be easy to find on all the channels you’re using. This means optimizing your store for mobile and social media shopping in addition to the desktop website. It should also be possible for customers to make purchases and interact across all these channels.
Find out more about omnichannel:
Make Sure Your Store Is Ready For High Traffic
BFCM is always guaranteed to bring in more traffic than what your store usually experiences. This can leave your store vulnerable to crashes, causing a loss of sales and perhaps a loss of trust. Avoid this by getting your Shopify store ready for high traffic.
To start, take a look at your store’s capability to handle increased traffic. This is known as a stress test and can be conducted using K6. You should also take a look at the current speed performance of your store. Some alternative tools are Google PageSpeed and SpeedCurve to track its performance and identify issues.
Regularly check your store’s performance with SpeedCurve and Google PageSpeed
If your store doesn’t do well on these checks, take steps to optimize its speed. This includes deleting any unused apps, using a fast and responsive theme, and reducing re-directs. Once you’ve done that, run the tests again and see how your site is doing.
Make sure to run load tests regularly, especially as you make changes to your store. Keep an eye on what does and doesn’t make the needle move, and focus more effort on the techniques that clearly improve speed.
Make Navigating Through Your Store a Breeze
Visitors to your store need to be able to effortlessly find the discounted products they love. So, a top priority for BCFM is to optimize navigation through your store and its sales inventory. There are a couple of simple yet effective ways of doing this.
Create BFCM landing pages
A landing page is the best way to display all of your deals in one, easy-to-find place. As a minimum, you should have a landing page that directs customers straight to discounted products or collections.
It’s a good idea, however, to build multiple landing pages based on best-selling sale items, top-performing categories, and discount type. This ensures that your sales aren’t just easy to navigate, but that it is consistently engaging. It’ll also play well with your marketing efforts as you can include links to beautifully crafted pages featuring relevant products.
An example of an effective sales landing page by PageFly
With a page building app such as PageFly, you can quickly create customized holiday sales pages, or choose from the pre-made templates. Your BFCM landing page needs to wow shoppers so make sure you:
- Have beautiful visuals
- Use engaging and compelling copy
- Create a sense of urgency with countdown timers
- Include reviews and ratings
- Have a strong CTA that is visible the moment they’re on the page
Optimize site search
The search bar is where 43% of shoppers begin their journey on an eCommerce site, so you can bet that site search will be a vital component of BFCM.
Your search function will need to be foolproof. This means that it should still deliver relevant results for misspelled words and account for synonyms. Beyond that, it’s a good idea to incorporate visual elements as well as instant suggestions in the search dropdown to lighten the effort of finding desired products.
It’s also important to bear in mind that there will likely be some searchers who don’t know a lot about your brand and products. After all, first-time buyers made up 52% of BFCM shoppers in 2021. These new visitors may end up searching for a product that your store doesn’t stock.
The last thing you’d want to do in this situation is to leave them with a No results found page. Instead, your search function needs to be able to surface popular sales items when faced with this scenario.
Related read: What to Do With ‘No Search Results’
Additionally, you’ll need to make sure that you have a great filtering function. Filter engagement tends to increase by almost 50% during BFCM. This is driven mostly by first-time visitors who are keen to discover new products and look for inspiration. To satisfy these consumers, your filter needs to:
- Have relevant options for each collection and category: filter options should consist of product aspects and attributes
- Allow for multiple selection of filter values
- Be void of jargon and ambiguous terms
- Be collapsable with a search box if there are a lot of filter options
- Allow for quick editing by hitting “x” and clear all
If you’re after an easy way to optimize searching in your Shopify store, look no further than Boost AI Search & Discovery. Our comprehensive app equips your store with all the smart search capabilities mentioned above, as well as a highly flexible filtering function.
Prepare Product Reviews and Social Proof
As we mentioned, new shoppers will make up a sizable chunk of the visitors coming to your store. These newbies are going to need some assurance about the quality of your products. An effective way to do this is by displaying genuine proof that you have products people love. This can be in the form of star ratings, written reviews, and UGC via social media.
If you’re not making use of reviews yet, now’s a great time to start. Try out apps like Okendo, Loox, Ali Reviews, or Yotpo so you can begin requesting and collecting product reviews in time for BFCM. What’s more, these apps integrate with Boost Product Filter and Search. This gives your store the added benefit of being able to see star ratings in the search dropdown and filter based on ratings.
Master Checkout Process
After all the hard work you’ve put into preparing for holiday sales, the last thing you want is to lose customers at the final hurdle. To avoid this, you need to ensure that the checkout process is as smooth and simple as possible.
Here are a few tips to help you master the checkout process in time for BFCM:
- Make it easy for new customers to checkout: allow unregistered visitors to checkout as a guest so they don’t need to fill in details. Alternatively, you could provide the option to sign in with their Google account if data collection is a top priority.
- Provide a variety of payment options: mobile wallets, buy now pay later, and other alternative payment options are rising in popularity. Make sure the payment gateway you’re using offers a variety of payment options. You could also use multiple payment gateways like Stripe, PayPal, and Shopify Payments.
- Keep the payment form short: this should be limited to a single page and include no more than 7 fields. Where possible auto-fill fields such as using a postal code to automatically populate the address fields, or saving address and credit card information for returning customers.
Also, you should have a plan to tackle abandoned carts. This can be through automated email reminders, push notifications, or SMS.
Optimize Shipping and Delivery
To really delight shoppers, you need to leave no room for mistakes when it comes to shipping and delivery.
Try to offer a variety of delivery options. Brick-and-mortar stores should include a pick-up in-store option. If possible, offer a curbside or local pickup option for customers nearby.
Be sure to clearly state the expected delivery times for each option so your customers are well informed. You should also keep tabs on the status of deliveries. This can be a monumental task over BFCM. Consider using Shopify Flow to automatically notify your logistics team of any delays in fulfillment.
A recommended flow by Shopify so your team is informed of delays in fulfillment.
Get Your Support Team Ready
Increased traffic will certainly result in increased customer messages. Make sure you have a sufficient team to handle this. Customer supporters will need to monitor inquiries and complaints on both your website and social media channels. Consider using a help desk tool such as Helpcenter | FAQ HelpDesk to consolidate them into one tool.
You should also ensure it’s easy for shoppers to raise questions on your website around the clock. Try using a live chat app such as Tidio or Shopify Inbox so chatbots can give instant responses at any time.
Get Ahead of the Game and Score Big This BFCM
This year e-merchants will face a challenge that has been absent for some time now - in-person shopping. That being said, consumers do still believe the best sales are found online, so the hope is anything but lost.
You can ensure your Shopify store thrives on this BFCM by having a well-thought-out plan of action and equipping your store with all the right tools to succeed. Tick all the boxes and you’re certain to win.