BFCM 2023 Checklist: A Practical Guide to Winning Big
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In 2022, Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) shattered records with over $11 billion in online sales on Cyber Monday and $9.12 billion for Black Friday (TechCrunch). These remarkable figures marked a 5.8% and 2.3% increase compared to 2021. BFCM 2022 amassed a staggering $211.7 billion in total season revenue, signifying a 2.5% growth compared to the previous year.
BFCM isn't just about slashing prices and hoping for the best. It's a strategic game that requires preparation, finesse, and a dash of innovation. In this ever-evolving retail landscape, staying ahead of the curve is crucial to survive and thrive during BFCM.
This blog will provide a BFCM 2023 Checklist: A Practical Guide to Winning Big. It's time to make this holiday season unforgettable for you and your customers.
What is Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM)?
Celebrated across North America, Black Friday Cyber Monday (commonly known as 'BFCM') is one of the biggest shopping seasons of the year. It kicks off on the Friday after Thanksgiving and lasts through the weekend, wrapping up on Cyber Monday.
Retailers use various methods to inform you about their discounts during this time, like working with famous social media figures, posting on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, sending text messages, etc.…
The latest report from Adobe Analytics and NRF reveals impressive numbers from the 2022 Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) shopping period. On Cyber Monday, online spending reached a remarkable $11.3 billion, marking a 5.8% increase from the previous year. Black Friday sales hit $9.12 billion, a 2.3% uptick compared to the prior year.
Over Thanksgiving, 196.7 million consumers engaged in online and in-store shopping. On Black Friday, 87.2 million opted for online shopping, with 77 million doing the same on Cyber Monday. Mobile sales played a significant role, accounting for 55% of online sales on Thanksgiving and 51% during Cyber Week.
In 2022, 76% of consumers participated in BFCM shopping, both online and in physical stores, surpassing earlier forecasts and marking a substantial increase from the 70% participation rate in 2021. These numbers emphasize the enduring significance of BFCM in the retail world.
Now, let's talk about how this shopping madness started.
Black Friday, which is all about shopping in stores and online, goes back to the late 1800s. It began after President Lincoln decided that the last Thursday of November would be Thanksgiving Day.
There was some confusion, but in 1941, Congress stepped in and said, 'Thanksgiving will always be on the fourth Thursday of November.' That cleared things up. So, the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday became the day for massive discounts, and most stores started offering those deals on Thanksgiving night.
After Black Friday, we have Cyber Monday, which is all about online shopping. It started in 2005 when online shopping was taking off. Retailers wanted to keep the shopping excitement going, so they created Cyber Monday as an online-only event. They continued offering fantastic discounts and deals to keep people interested.
Checklist to optimize BFCM store design
1. Create an attractive landing page for BFCM
A landing page is a dedicated space on your e-commerce website to showcase specific products or deals associated with Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM). When strategically executed, a BFCM landing page can effectively channel your target audience to a page purpose-built to convert visitors into paying customers.
An impactful landing page has the potential to boost user engagement, generate leads, and ultimately drive revenue. One tool that can simplify creating visually stunning BFCM landing pages is EComposer - Landing Page Builder. This app offers a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface that empowers businesses to craft landing pages swiftly and efficiently.
With EComposer, you can choose from a wide range of customizable themes and design options to make your landing pages stand out. For instance, the BFCM landing page template from EComposer can be adapted to create an impressive BFCM landing page that attracts customers and effectively presents your products.
Furthermore, EComposer allows Shopify businesses to collect valuable customer data, enhance conversion rates, and present products in an appealing manner. Harness the power of EComposer today to craft engaging and high-converting BFCM landing pages that will drive sales and boost conversions during this crucial shopping season.
2. Prepare for a more extended sales period
While online shopping dominates, it's essential to recognize that sales and promotions have extended beyond the BFCM weekend, even encompassing in-person shopping where local conditions allow.
Traditionally, BFCM was synonymous with door-buster deals, drawing crowds of shoppers to physical stores at the crack of dawn. However, this dynamic is shifting. In 2021, in-store sales on Black Friday dropped by 31%, while sales throughout November surged by 10% compared to the previous year.
This shift signifies a changing preference among consumers. With fewer door-buster deals in physical stores, more shoppers are turning to the convenience of online shopping. In a 2021 holiday trends study by Justuno, 65% of US shoppers expressed their intent to make holiday purchases before Thanksgiving.
So, how can you prepare your online store for this evolving shopping landscape?
The game-changer is the willingness to extend your offers beyond the traditional BFCM weekend. By doing so, you not only cater to the needs of early shoppers but also keep the shopping excitement alive for longer. It's like stretching out the holiday joy and ensuring your store remains in the spotlight.
3. Test and prepare your store for traffic surges
Efficiency is the name of the game when it comes to Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM), which applies notably to your online store. One crucial aspect that can make or break your customers' shopping experience and conversion rates is the loading speed of your website. Studies have highlighted that a sluggish website can deter potential buyers, while even a minuscule 0.1-second improvement in site speed can translate into a remarkable 10.1% increase in conversions.
However, with the surge in web traffic during BFCM, there's a potential downside: the risk of your site crashing under the immense load. To ensure your store can handle the increased traffic, it's essential to carry out comprehensive testing and preparation.
One valuable tool is Shopify's online store speed report, which can help you gauge server load and optimize your website's performance.
Check out our seasonal merchandising guide for tips on planning promotions, preparing for increased shopper inquiries, and handling higher order volumes.
4. Create contingency plans
You see, in retail, especially during the busiest shopping season of the year, unexpected challenges can and do happen. So, let's talk about how to build a safety net for your business.
- BFCM Preparedness: Readiness is the key to a successful Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM).
- Plan for the Unexpected: In retail, especially during the busiest shopping season, unexpected challenges are expected. It's essential to be prepared.
- Robust Backup Systems: Ensure you have reliable backup systems to recover quickly and maintain smooth business operations during disruptions.
- Shipping Challenges: Consider scenarios where your shipping company faces overwhelming orders leading to delays. Be ready to address such issues.
- Inventory Management: What if your inventory doesn't arrive as scheduled? Having a plan for such situations is crucial.
- Adapting to Market Changes: Market demands can shift unexpectedly. A contingency plan allows you to adjust your product offerings to meet evolving customer needs swiftly.
- Thoughtful Preparedness: The goal is not to create unnecessary fears but to advocate for thoughtful preparedness. By anticipating potential challenges and crafting contingency plans, you equip yourself with practical strategies to overcome hurdles that may arise during BFCM.
5. Serve shoppers in person with Shopify POS
In 2021, there was a fascinating twist in retail: in-store sales outpaced eCommerce sales for the first time, marking a significant recovery for brick-and-mortar businesses. However, as we approach the upcoming holiday season, there's a looming question: how will consumers choose to shop this time?
It's a retail problem. Will shoppers stick with their newfound online shopping habits forged during the pandemic, or will the pent-up desire to have that tactile, in-store shopping experience result in an unprecedented surge in foot traffic? The answer, it seems, lies somewhere in between – a delicate dance of both online and in-person shopping. As a merchant gearing up for BFCM 2023, the key is to be ready to meet your customers wherever they decide to shop.
Enter Shopify POS, the bridge that connects the digital and physical shopping realms. It's the game-changer that digitally native brands must extend their services into physical spaces and serve shoppers face-to-face.
The driving force behind this dynamic is consumer demand for flexibility and convenience. Shoppers might prefer making purchases online and then swinging by the store to pick them up (that's the “buy online, pickup in-store”). Or they might want to check store inventory from the comfort of their couch before heading out. The bottom line is they want to shop on their terms.
To succeed during the peak sales season, it's all about meeting these expectations. Shoppers have come to expect a seamless blend of in-store and online shopping options. As a merchant, if you can provide this flexibility, you're in an excellent position to reap the rewards.
6. Make inventory decisions early
When stocking the right products for Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM), it's not about guesswork – it's about strategic planning. Fortunately, various ways exist to forecast demand and pinpoint the merchandise you should have in abundance for BFCM.
For those on Shopify, one valuable resource is Shopify Reports. Specifically, when filtered by the sales data from last year's BFCM dates, the Sales by product report can offer critical insights. It highlights which products have historically been top performers during the BFCM season, giving you a clear starting point for your inventory decisions.
Another powerful tool is the ABC analysis method. It's a systematic approach to identifying your best and worst-performing products. A-grade products are your revenue champions, contributing around 80% of your sales. On the other hand, C-grade products are the underperformers, accounting for only about 5% of your revenue.
And if you need quick funding to stock up on inventory before the peak sales period hits, Shopify Capital provides a fast and effective solution.
Read more: 30+ Must-Have Shopify Apps
7. Set your busy-season delivery strategy early
Shipping isn't just an operational cost; it's a strategic lever that can profoundly impact your business, especially during key selling periods like Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) and the holiday season.
Crafting an effective shipping strategy is more than overwhelming customers with endless options. Instead, it's about balancing affordability, meeting customer expectations, and aligning with your logistics capabilities. The right strategy can enhance the customer experience, boost cart conversion rates, and increase average order value (AOV).
When it comes to speed, remember that "fast" varies based on location and customer expectations. It could encompass same-day delivery, overnight shipping, or standard two-day shipping.
Conversely, "free" shipping isn't truly free; it shifts the cost to your end. Yet, when executed wisely, it can raise your AOV and encourage more significant purchases. Consider offering it for orders above a specific threshold or as a promotional tool during peak periods like BFCM.
Local delivery and BOPIS are efficient ways to serve local customers and avoid shipping delays. Using your store or warehouse locations as pickup points or arranging local deliveries by your staff can be cost-effective and extend the holiday shopping season.
Once your holiday shipping strategy is in place, communicate it. Publish details on your shipping policy, FAQ page, emails, and marketing channels. Provide transparency on shipping speeds at checkout, helping customers anticipate deliveries. To keep customers informed, maintain open communication about shipping delays due to carrier issues or unforeseen circumstances.
8. Optimize your conversion rate
Increasing your eCommerce conversion rate by just 1% can impact your business's sales. To embark on this journey, it's crucial to understand where you currently stand compared to industry standards.
Begin by discovering the benchmarks for businesses similar to yours. Consider factors such as your location, Gross Merchandise Value (GMV), and industry vertical (e.g., apparel and accessories, home and garden, health and beauty, etc.).
Utilize the eCommerce conversion rate calculator to:
- Gauge how your conversion rate stacks up against brands of similar size and within your industry.
- Gain valuable, actionable insights on enhancing your eCommerce conversion rate.
- Pinpoint areas where your brand's conversion strategy may fall short and uncover opportunities for improvement.
9. Create a Coming Soon Page that makes customers curious
A Coming Soon Page, often called a password page, serves as a landing page where you can pique people's interest in your business, products, or upcoming events. It offers a platform to captivate potential customers, encourages them to sign up for early notifications, and gives them a sneak peek of what's on the horizon.
Building a Coming Soon Page can vary greatly depending on the nature of your business. While it's not mandatory for all companies, many consider it invaluable. Here are the key advantages of having a Coming Soon Page:
- Boosting Brand Awareness: A Coming Soon Page is a prelude to your official launch, showcasing your dedication and efforts. It leaves a lasting impression on potential customers, making them more likely to return once your website is live.
- Expanding Your Pool of Prospective Customers: Coming Soon Pages often include email sign-up forms. This enables businesses to collect a database of potential customers who can be targeted for future product promotions.
- Demonstrating Professionalism and Credibility: In an era where low-quality businesses abound, a Coming Soon Page underscores your commitment to your upcoming project, instilling trust and confidence in potential customers.
- Efficient Customer Communication: By integrating e-commerce plugins like Shopify Inbox Chat, businesses can address customer inquiries promptly, persuading them to engage with the impending launch.
- Kickstarting SEO: Creating an optimized Coming Soon Page with relevant keywords can contribute to a head start in building your search ranking on Google, a crucial aspect of website development.
10. Craft an irresistible BFCM offer
One potent strategy retailers often employ during Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) is to showcase a "can't miss" sale on a popular item. This approach acts as a magnet, drawing customers into their store. Once enticed by the deep discount, there's a significant chance these customers will browse and add more items to their cart, potentially making up for any losses incurred from the flagship product's reduced price.
When considering what type of "can't miss" sale will attract people to your store, focus on the one sale product you believe is the most enticing. Instead of bombarding your subscribers with all your BFCM sales simultaneously, highlight this flagship offer to capture attention effectively.
Once customers have entered your store, employ various techniques to encourage conversion and boost order sizes. Here are three key ways:
- Discounts, Sales, and Limited-Time Offers: Utilize countdown timers to create a sense of urgency and conversion-boosting tools to sweeten the deal, compelling holiday shoppers to make immediate purchases.
- Product Upsells and Cross-Sells: Increase sales by offering strategic product suggestions based on what customers already have in their carts, making their shopping experience more comprehensive and satisfying.
- More Completed Checkouts: Combat abandoned carts by re-engaging distracted or indecisive customers, providing the gentle nudge they need to return and complete their purchases.
11. Start your email marketing campaigns early
Email marketing emerged as a powerhouse during BFCM 2022, delivering the highest conversion rates for Shopify merchants. To make the most of this potent channel, it's imperative to plan and execute your email marketing campaigns well in advance, ensuring your customers are primed to act on your holiday sale offers. With Shopify Email integrated into your Shopify Marketing arsenal, you can streamline your efforts and schedule emails in advance, saving you valuable time.
Here are some expert tips for a winning BFCM email marketing strategy:
- Build Suspense and Buzz: Generate anticipation around your upcoming sale by strategically placing email collection fields and sign-up pop-ups across your store. This ensures you can reach out to potential customers who visit your site but need more time to make a purchase. Ensure that the email addresses you collect are high quality and that you have customers' consent to send promotional emails.
- Personalize Your Email Campaigns: In the midst of the BFCM email deluge, it's crucial to stand out. Shopify Email makes personalization easy, allowing you to customize subject lines, previews, and body text with a customer's first and last name, email, city, or country. Personalization enhances positive signals like open rates, click-through rates, conversions, and engagement.
- Send "Warm-Up" Emails: Begin teasing your BFCM offers early to your subscribers, whether they involve discounts, exclusive products, free shipping, charitable donations, or unique promotions. This early communication primes your audience for the primary announcement. Consider sending exclusive offers to segments like your VIP customers. Early emails are less likely to be flagged as spam, and Shopify Email offers pre-built holiday templates for easy creation, editing, scheduling, and sending.
- Express Gratitude Post-Sale: After your BFCM sale concludes, show your appreciation to customers with a follow-up email. This helps maintain warm relationships. Remember that purchasers will receive order-related emails in the days following BFCM, so avoid over-communication. Aim to have an automated thank-you email set up to send five to seven days after BFCM concludes.
- Leverage Abandoned Cart Emails: Cart abandonment is prevalent during BFCM, with data indicating an average rate of nearly 80%. Combat this by setting up targeted abandoned cart email sequences. When customers add items to their carts but leave your store, these compelling emails entice them to return and complete their purchases.
12. Provide prompt and personal support
Black Friday can be a whirlwind for customer support, and ensuring a seamless experience is paramount for customer satisfaction. Two key elements come into play: swift response times and a courteous, respectful approach to all customers.
Prepare in advance with standard phrases and responses to streamline your service efforts while maintaining consistency and helpfulness. Focus on addressing these common pain points:
- Lost or Delayed Orders: Offer clear solutions and assistance when customers encounter issues with lost or delayed orders.
- Customer Dissatisfaction: When customers aren't unsatisfied with their purchase, have strategies to address their concerns and find resolutions.
- Damaged Packages or Products: Guide what to do when customers receive damaged packages or products, ensuring a smooth resolution process.
Additionally, invest time training your team on handling upset customers empathetically and effectively. Educate them on the principles of delivering exceptional customer service. Documenting this information enables easy sharing with your group or any seasonal help you've onboarded for the holiday rush.
13. Reward loyal customers
Black Friday Cyber Monday isn't just about attracting new customers; it's also an excellent opportunity to nurture and strengthen relationships with your existing ones. Customer marketing is pivotal in this endeavor, allowing you to engage and re-engage previous customers with enticing offers.
Consider these strategies to reward your loyal customers:
- Email Campaigns: Utilize Shopify Email to send tailored messages to your existing customers, granting them early access to your sale or exclusive deals as a token of appreciation for their loyalty. Exclusive offers serve as an incentive for shoppers to join your email list before leaving your site.
- Retargeting: Implement retargeting campaigns that reach out to previous customers who have shown interest in your products or made purchases in the past. Remind them of your BFCM deals and encourage them to return.
- Loyalty Programs: Explore loyalty apps available in the Shopify App Store to transform new shoppers into repeat customers. Loyalty programs offer rewards, discounts, or points for continued patronage, fostering customer retention.
14. Offer easy and hassle-free returns
Handling returns and exchanges has become integral to the modern customer experience, especially during Black Friday and beyond. Many shoppers now expect effortless and cost-free returns, often making it a deciding factor in their purchase decisions.
Ensure your return policy is crystal clear, equitable, and prominently displayed on your website. This not only signals confidence in your products but also minimizes purchase hesitations. Key locations to feature your return policy include:
- Order confirmation emails
Anticipate the highest influx of holiday returns in December, January, and February. Familiarize yourself with Shopify's return management tools to handle returns, enhancing the customer journey efficiently. Consider temporarily extending your return window during the season to offer shoppers added peace of mind.
Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) season offers an incredible opportunity for e-commerce businesses to achieve significant success. With our comprehensive BFCM 2023 Checklist, you now have a practical guide to help you navigate this critical sales period effectively.
Always put customers at the forefront of your efforts, and use the insights and tools provided in this checklist to create a shopping experience that leaves a lasting impression.
With the right strategies, the 2023 BFCM season has the potential to help your business shine and win big. Here's wishing you success and a rewarding Cyber Monday Black Friday!
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