The 32 Point E-Commerce Flash Sale Checklist for Black Friday 2019

With less than two months to go for the big showdown in e-commerce aka Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s time for marketers to pull up their socks for the biggest consumer shopping season.

Usually, the retailers start gearing up for the holiday season during September and push announcements for the holiday season. Some brands also like to start early in the year in January. This is because they usually have a lot of data from the previous year. It allows them time to process it, take out insights and use it for further optimization.

Nevertheless, it always pays to have some time in hand to lay the strategy and plan execution. Here’s a checklist that will come in handy for you to review what’s already done, what you need to do, and other ideas for what you can do.

A Guide on Black Friday and Cyber Monday Marketing

Preparatory Work

    1. Assess your website/app for handling load: Expect that there will be a massive inflow of traffic during the shopping season. You won’t want your website/app to crash or slow down when the customers reach your website. It would be a loss of potential revenue and customers. It sounds like a nightmare, right? Amazon, J.Crew, Lululemon are among the many who have experienced it! And we are sure they won’t like this to repeat. To ensure it doesn’t happen to you, have a good hosting platform in place, secure enough servers, compress images and run it through several load tests. Prevention is better than cure, as they say.
    2. Prepare a contingency plan: You can’t predict the future. Anything can happen. There might be unforeseen reasons for your website to fail last minute even when you run through every checklist and do several load tests. The only thing that can save you is to have a plan B, in this case. It is best to talk to your IT team on this and chalk out a plan of action if or when things fall down. Here’s a useful read which might help you.
    3. Optimize user buying journey: Test and retest the user journey to check how the website fares when a user browses your catalog, navigates the website, compares a product, adds it to the cart, makes the payment, etc. Every inch of your website should be optimized to the best for smooth user experience. It is best to review the user experience to remove the possibility of any technical glitch beforehand.
    4. Flexible payment options: Your checkout page is where you’ll convert your website visitors into paying customers. As such, make it easy for your customers to make the transaction by having multiple and easy payment options.
    5. User-generated content: Your website and social profiles may already have some amount of user-generated content in terms of reviews and comments. Take some time to collect positive feedback, and address any complaints and open issues.
    6. Personalization: You will sell as much as you’re able to understand your customers and tune your website to their needs. For this to happen, you need to segment your audience properly and lay down an automation system that tracks their behavior, and offers personalized content, product recommendations, offers, and user experience. The starting point would be to have a system like Netcore Smartech in place.
    7. Keep an eye on the inventory: Use last year’s financial and sales data to predict the stock required for this season and order well in time. Prepare your staff for any situations arising out of traffic influx, product shortage or aggressive buying. Make sure that inventory visibility remains transparent to you and your staff throughout.
    8. Set up minimum stock alerts: To avoid delays and last-minute rush, take time to set a minimum stock threshold for every product in your inventory and create alerts. Take into account the demand trends while setting this up.
    9. Set up analytics tools to measure success: You can’t improve what you can’t measure, as they say. Having a strong analytics system onboard is crucial to your success in the present and future both. Set up dashboards and metrics to capture the right kind of information.
    10. Real-time tracking: Black Friday sales can be extremely unpredictable. It is best to be able to see through your user’s journey and optimize your product showcase and offers on the fly for better sales. Real-time tracking can also help you in making relevant product recommendations on your website. Talk to your data team or analytics partner to set up a mechanism for real-time tracking.
    11. Dynamic Pricing: Many retailers these days use dynamic pricing software to win customers. The one price theory no longer exists. Tough competition is one factor. According to a Digiday article, prices are mostly influenced by demand, customer intent, and competition. Hence, marketers must consider deploying dynamic pricing software.
    12. Optimize logistics: 43% of mid-market e-retailers deliver an order within two days, as per a report by Digital Commerce 360. Also, it is worth noting that consumers are interested in free shipping and on-time delivery. These expectations would stay the same despite the huge influx of orders that you might receive. Our recommendations?
        1. Talk to your logistics team or partner and prepare them for the work-load. Line up multiple delivery options like – 2-day delivery, buy-online-pick-up-in-store, personalized delivery, consolidated delivery, etc.
        2. Have a system in place which lets your customer track orders, contact the delivery agent, and share feedback or contact you anytime.
        3. Check the return and cancellation process and prepare your system for these eventualities.

      Suggested read: How consumers view online delivery options.

    13. Customer service: Handling customer issues may become quite a tough challenge amidst the shopping frenzy. Prepare self-service options like FAQs, user guides, and interactive chatbots.

Advertising and Marketing Action Plan

    1. Identify relevant keywords and optimize for SEO: Run intensive keyword research for your products. Make your search location and demographics specific. Do pay attention to the competition and plan a content creation activity around the relevant keywords. The more the competition, the harder it is. But at the end of the day, it’s the quality that matters. But having a good SEO strategy is a must.
    2. Prepare for voice search: It is a common sight these days to see people around you saying “Hey Alexa”, “Ok, Google”, or “Hey Siri”. People are getting more comfortable with the idea of voice search. As such, your SEO strategy needs to include this perspective too. Voice search behavior is different from that of text search, e.g. “best TV brands” and “What are the best TV brands?”. In this example, people will tend to the former for text search and the latter would be a natural response in voice search. You would need to think on these lines and prepare.
    3. Optimize showcase for best deals: Your homepage is like a store-front. Showcase the best of products and offers here. Take your customers on a lucrative journey of discounts and interesting deals from here. Add a countdown clock, and place promotional banners with crisp and clear copy. Highlight products and categories with the heaviest discounts on top.
    4. Early bird offers and pre-sale: Launch early bird offers and presale leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Neither retailers wait for the actual Black Friday and Cyber Monday nor the customer. Start promotions early using social channels, email campaigns, and display marketing.
    5. Special launches and high-value deals: Many brands like to offer exclusive launches and discounts. These can be used to create buzz around the sale and also boost conversion. You can also create dedicated landing pages for these offers for SEO benefit.
    6. Real-time and last minute deals: Line up some surprise elements for your customers. Give them a heads up about the surprise though. Win them with those too-good-to-be-true super irresistible deals.
    7. In-store experiential events: If your online store has a brick and mortar space, you can very well use it to engage 1:1 with your customers. Exclusive events with a mix of the right audience can end up building brand loyalty for you. Also, integrating all your channels may result in added wins for you because of the ROPO effect (Research Online, Purchase Offline).
    8. Create exclusive landing pages for Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers: One – it is good for SEO. Second, you can communicate clearly and highlight offers without changing much on other pages of your website.
    9. Check last year’s trends: Here are a couple of resources which we think will help you:
    10. Set automation workflows: Email marketing serves as the most effective and important communication tool in e-commerce. Consider it as the strongest weapon in your artillery. It only becomes even more powerful with automation workflows. According to RetailDive, cart abandonment workflows were the highest performing automation workflows of the shopping holiday, counting a 2.13% order rate in 2018. Other than this, workflows like onboarding, offers, reviews, return, and cancellation, etc. will impact your sales highly. Get in touch with us to know how we can help you set this up.
    11. Create buyer’s guides for different personas: Curate deals and products for different segments of the audience, turn them into useful guides and share. It will be a value add for customers to make a decision regarding their purchases.
    12. Email marketing: Take this very seriously – Email marketing will be the most important marketing tool for you this shopping season. Segment your audience and prepare themes aligned to their interests, browsing history and demographics. Prepare a email marketing calendar so as to time them well. Start pushing email campaigns early for the buzz. You can send a variety of email campaigns – product recommendations, FOMO emails, early bird offers, special launches, coupon codes, etc. A/B test email campaigns and optimize the email send time and email marketing copy.
    13. Paid display advertising: As per Google Think, more than 8 in 10 undecided CPG shoppers say they’re considering multiple brands or don’t have any brands in mind at all. This means the customer is undecided and there’s a big opportunity here for brands to create a win. A good idea is to prepare a list of in-market segments and life events and target them. Also, be ready to adjust your CPC and budgets as there’s going to be a war in the PPC market. Make sure to set return on ad spend thresholds (ROAS) to not burn your budgets.
    14. Personalized video marketing: Video marketing technology has gone highly personalized this year. Marketers can use it multiple ways to engage with the customer, e.g. related product recommendations, time and weather relevant product pitching, buying behavior based videos, etc. Creativity has no end! One good example we found recently was that of PlayStation with Spirable:
    15. SMS and Push Notification Marketing: While email marketing remains the king of marketing tools when it comes to e-commerce, SMS and push notifications are not far behind. According to researchers, around 99% of SMSs are read within the first 15 minutes of receiving them. Combined with email marketing, SMS and push notification can certainly have a positive impact on your ROI. Forbes predicts a heavy usage of messaging and push notifications by brands this year.
    16. Breathe! This shopping season can be extremely stressful. No matter the size or scale of your e-commerce brand. Do not burn the candle at both ends. Take up only as much you can handle. Be mindful of your capacity and limits. And make marketing decisions accordingly.

Post Black Friday and Cyber Monday Stage

    1. Collect data and dive deep: Phew! Now that the shopping season is over, we can sit back and relax a bit, no? Well, some more time before you blow off the heat. Right after the end of the shopping season is the best time to collect data and analyze it. Because the campaign strategy and execution would still be fresh in your head, you can use this time to analyze data more effectively and take out insights for improvements next season. So, dive right in!
    2. Use the data to continue offering personalized recommendations: The massive shopping influx will not only bring in revenue on the table but also some precious insights into your customer preferences. Turn these learnings into future campaigns to communicate with your audience.
    3. Stay in touch: Keep the communication going with your customers. Send them a thank-you note, check with them on their purchases, or wish them a great holiday season. Show them that you’re human and that you care.Black Friday and Cyber Monday are almost around the corner. Start preparing for them as soon as you can. Technology trends like dynamic pricing, marketing automation, and personalization will impact revenues. We hope the suggestions we shared will help you implement great strategies.We wish you a great Black Friday and Cyber Monday ever!
Ritu Poddar

Ritu Poddar

Ritu is a Technical Writer & Content Developer by profession, and a Poet & Creative Writer by passion. She works as Assistant Manager, Content Development at Netcore.