For many solopreneurs worldwide, Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) 2020 will present new challenges and opportunities. The Covid-19 pandemic and consequent retail closures have caused a major shift in consumer spending from traditional brick-and-mortar stores to online stores. We believe this shift will persist throughout the festive season and beyond.
As more consumers rush online for their annual BFCM purchases, many retailers will endure inventory control and shipping challenges. Regardless, you can still capitalize on this year’s greatest shopping event despite the atypical business climate. Here is a checklist of things you can do to prepare your business for the tremendous opportunities BFCM has to offer.
Planning: Prepare For a Busier, Longer Season
Test Your Website’s Capacity to Handle Traffic Surges
While most online entrepreneurs desire a steady flow of traffic to their websites, a sudden surge in web visitors can come with the downside of website crashes. Fortunately, you can test your store’s server load capacity using the numerous tools available.
You can perform speed tests for your product pages, highest-traffic collection pages and home page, then combine their Google Lighthouse speed scores to get one overall score. Data from speed reports can help you assess and fine-tune your website in preparation for the anticipated traffic.
Make the Most of Multichannel Selling
Given the current business environment, many retailers view an online shift in activities as a prudent move. Arguably, there has never been a better year for businesses to reap the advantages of multichannel selling than in 2020.
If you already sell on multiple channels, single out the most lucrative and concentrate more efforts towards them this BFCM. However, if you are yet to adopt multichannel selling, then consider these online sales channels:
Pro tip: Sales channels have different lead times for optimized performance. For instance, Google’s algorithm can take upwards of 15 days to discover your store and optimize performance to ensure the right shoppers view your offers. Therefore, install and setup everything as soon as possible.
Create a Contingency Plan
Proper preparation entails routinely checking whether you can handle the worst-case scenario. While we do not intend to evoke unfounded fears, you should ask yourself uncomfortable questions such as:
- Do I have the necessary backups in case things go awry?
- What would happen if my inventory fails to arrive on the expected date?
- How rapidly can I adjust my product plan?
Given the already frequent shipping delays, it pays to create contingency plans to handle hitches when they occur rather than troubleshooting during the biggest annual sales event.
Products: Get Ready for a Surge in Demand
Prepare Your Inventory List Early
Many suppliers have been stretching their capacity to meet product demand since the pandemic began. Picking a list of products you intend to promote for BFCM in advance can provide your suppliers with adequate leeway to produce or source your inventory.
Using ABC analysis, you can identify the performance of your products and forecast their respective demands. It would be best if you give top priority to products with higher prospective demand.
Analyze Pandemic Product/Service Trends
Besides highlighting your best-selling products, it would be prudent if you also consider products or services that have risen in demand during the pandemic. Put yourself in the shoes of your typical shoppers and identify the product/service trends that suit their needs.
Sell Gift Cards
Communicate with your suppliers to confirm whether they are capable of handling your projected BFCM sales. Quite possibly, the worst thing that could happen is selling out sooner than anticipated and consequently failing to meet your customers’ demand.
You can mitigate stockouts by selling gift cards. Through gift cards, you can capture sales that would have otherwise been lost to a stockout while allowing you ample time to restock before your customers redeem their cards.
Develop a Smooth Order and Fulfilment Workflow
A sudden and brief upsurge in sales volume can make order fulfillment very challenging. Here are some tips to help you optimize your workflows during BFCM.
- Tidy up Your Fulfilment Area
Whether you fulfill orders from your basement or a warehouse, make your best-selling products easily accessible for expeditious picking and packing.
- Consider Hiring Extra Fulfilment Staff
Depending on your situation, it may be worth getting additional staff to reduce the burden of fulfilling and shipping the sudden influx of orders.
- Prioritize Your Orders
Group your orders according to common needs and plan how you will prioritize them ahead of time. You can group your orders based on product type, customer priority and shipping requirements.
Marketing: Plan Your Marketing Campaign and Creatives
Create an Irresistible Offer
Among the best strategies you can use is running “jaw-dropping” sales on popular products to attract potential customers to your store. Once prospective customers are hooked on your deep discount, you can upsell them other items before they check out.
This strategy essentially involves accepting a loss on the initial product and making up the difference on the additional products that customers add to their carts. However, if you do not prefer this loss leader strategy, you can use other promotional ideas like:
- Offer gamification, e.g., a spin-to-win discount
- Providing product bundles
- Limited time offers
Create Stunning Hero Images and Banners
It is hard to deny how attractive well-designed graphics and visuals can be. Whether you intend to promote your offers using banner ads or change the hero image on your site for BFCM, you do not need years of graphic design experience. Using free design platforms such as CreativeMarket and Canva should suffice.
Leverage Multichannel Advertising
Developing brilliant creatives is only half the battle. Ensuring potential shoppers are aware of your offers is the other half. Making announcements across several well-performing channels will enhance your chances of reaching your target audience.
By far, the best way of maximizing your reach almost instantaneously is through paid advertising. Although your business’s best channels will depend on your budget, target audience, and the products you offer, you are more likely to reach massive audiences on the biggest social media platforms.
Also, bids tend to get more competitive and expensive during BFCM. You may have to bid higher for specific audiences or keywords to make your ads more visible. Setting a reasonable ad budget will help you avoid overspending on paid advertising.
Like a Spotify playlist – enjoy!
Adequate planning, preparation and early execution are vital for success as a solopreneur during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Following this checklist and practicing due diligence can help set your business up for success in the upcoming sale events. If this BFCM happens to be your first, set realistic expectations, stay ambitious and view it as a valuable learning experience.