10-point Checklist How to Prepare Online Store for Black Friday and Cyber Monday Shopping Fever

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few years you know what Black Friday and Cyber Monday are.
Black Friday is considered the biggest shopping day of the whole year. Friday which comes right after Thanksgiving Day, which falls on November 25 this year, is associated with the start of holiday gift-buying season.
Moreover, the customers spend more and more each year and Black Friday 2016 likely will not be an exception.

A term Cyber Monday was coined to persuade people to buy online after Black Friday sales bonanza. Cyber Monday is the Monday immediately following after Black Friday. This year Cyber Monday falls on November 28.

According to the report of Online Holiday Sales in 2015 from comScore Cyber Monday was the heaviest spending day of the Christmas shopping season for six years in a row. Total digital spend during Christmas 2015 shopping season increased by 13% comparing to 2014 season (the statistics for US, by comScore).

Each year I help our clients to prepare their online stores for holiday shopping season.

I hope that my survival guide will help you to deal with Black Friday and Cyber Monday Shopping shopping fever!

1. Learn from previous years

Unless it’s your first time when you run Black Friday sales campaign probably you have some experience from the previous years.
What we practice at Kiwee is a post-mortem meeting after each project, no matter what the outcome was. Its goal is to list constructively all actions which worked and which didn’t.
I advise you to gather all of them in shared file, i.e. Google Docs and to come back to it next year.

2. Prepare clear goals for Black Friday

Set clear goals for your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales campaigns. You may want to gain new customers, sell part of the products or other.
Then plan your sales, communication and operational duties.

3. Think about mobile first

1 in 4 buy using mobile on Black Friday

Picture: 1 in 4 customers buy online using mobile on Black Friday

According to Custora, in Q1 of 2016 26% of orders were placed via mobile. I expect this tendency to increase.
My advice is to test carefully mobile version of your store, run real users tests and remove usability obstacles and issues.

4. Promote your sales campaigns

The customers start seeking Black Friday deals at the beginning of November. They plan what and where to buy. Be prepared for that.

Plan carefully your email campaing to answer for rising interest of your customers about Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

5. Get social with your customers

Each your customer owns a smartphone. Use it!
The customers seek for sales previews, discount coupons, savings on an individual item.
Let your customers know in advance about the deals on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
Great example from Amazon:

Getting ready for #BlackFriday like our #PrimePet friend @our_lab_finn! ⏰👀💻

A photo posted by Amazon (@amazon) on

6. Build an atmosphere of tension

Add countdown timers to your offers to indicate that a given offer is limited in time, in quantity or, in price.

codeschool-black-friday

Picture: Email Black Friday promotion by CodeSchool

Amazon builds deal tension

Picture: Atmosphere of tension built by Amazon

7. Decrease cart abandonment rate

According to Baymard Institute research around 27% of the customers drop a cart, mainly due to “too long / complicated checkout process”. Moreover, an average checkout flow contains 14,88 form fields – twice as many as necessary.
Reworking your checkout is not an easy nor fast task so you need to plan it upfront.
Article from our UX and graphic designer Alicja about checkout form usability will help you with that.

8. Prepare your server infrastructure to cope with higher traffic

During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, your store will be under a siege of traffic.
To be able to cope with traffic spikes I recommend to scale your application horizontally.

Horizontal scaling of application

Picture: Recommended by Kiwee Magento store servers' infrastructure

In order not to be suprised by a performance of your store during huge traffic spike, test it with the load testing tools like BlazeMeter, Loader.io, open source Siege or similar.

9. Do user tests

To design the best user experience you need more information and data than only your design team’s experience.
Test your store with real users testing tools like loop11, User Testing or Validately.
There is a great free, 5-minute test done by a random Internet user offered by User Testing. It works really great!

10. Turn Black Friday’s customers into loyal customers

Each occasion to turn one-time customers into loyal clients should be used. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are not the exceptions.
Make shopping experience in your store the best as possible. Inform your customers about delivery status, ensure easy returns. Ask them for a review after a purchase is done.

Newegg holiday extended returns

Picture: Policy of extended holiday returns by Newegg

It’s important to create a relation with a client. Keep them engaged through the social media, newsletter.

But what about the customers who abandoned their cart?
Simply ask! Prepare a short survey and ask them about their experience. The feedback from unhappy customer is priceless. Basing on that you can enhance your shopping process.

Ania Sawicka

CEO and co-founder

Being an entrepreneur is my state of mind. I love to build teams and empower them to make products profitable and ideas working.