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There’s a lot riding on the most popular shopping days of the Christmas season: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Are you ready for the rush?

By now you’ve no doubt read about the record-breaking retail sales expected for this Christmas season. According to eMarketer, U.S. spending is set to increase in 2014 by 16.6% over 2013’s figures, with Verdict forecasting that Christmas 2014 in the U.K. “will shine bright with consumers spending £2.3bn more than in 2013.”

To help you best prepare for sales success we’ve made a handy checklist for you, and checking it twice wouldn’t hurt.

Retailer’s Top 5 Preparation Tips:

1. Offering Sales and Free Shipping
Buyers want a bargain. That’s why they endure the mad rush, be it in shops or online. Reviewing inventory, sales analysis and cost of goods reporting helps to determine what you can offer at a discount and ways to offer delivery for free, at least during that 4-day shopping window.

2. Inventory Management
This may sound like a given, but if you’re relying on suppliers that may also be going through your same holiday sales preparation, you don’t want to be caught by surprise. Paying particular attention to items planned for discounting or included in specific advertising campaigns is especially important.

3. Streamline Deliveries: You’ve offered free shipping. Now it’s time to deliver, literally. Using different carriers, a necessary part of the business, may require entering information into each one manually. This not only takes more time but it opens up opportunities for errors.

Moving towards a delivery management solution enables you to enter once, assign the right carrier for the right product and destination, track shipments from one place – and most important of all – automatically let the customer know that their goodies are on the way. You’ve now provided great customer service, a key aspect of getting recommendations and repeat business.

4. Review Product Listings
Providing bulleted features lists, clear titles and descriptions, and images from different angles will ensure your products are seen in the best light.

The same goes for your eBay and Amazon listings. Amazon recently stated, “To provide as much information as possible, it is important to create rich, differentiating data for each product. This information gives shoppers confidence that the product is right for them, especially during the holiday rush.”

5. Mobile Shopping
In between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Sofa Sunday on the 30th of November, when millions of shoppers are expected to do their Christmas shopping from smartphones and tablets.

According to MarketLive, smartphones and tablets accounted for 43% of all site visits in Q3 2014. Savvy buyers are also using their mobile devices to comparison shop while they’re in stores browsing.

Optimising your site for mobile and providing a smooth checkout process will impact your overall multichannel operation, whether shoppers are buying in your shop or online.

These next few weeks, including the Black Friday, Sofa Sunday and Cyber Monday shopping weekend, are expected to be quite hectic. Preparing for this rush will offer many beneficial returns to you as a retailer, including new and repeat customers. If they’re pleased with their products and service, why wouldn’t they want to come back for more?

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About the Author

Kim Owens is a veteran digital marketer and copywriter for Brightpearl, creating engaging, customer-centric content that provides value and an opportunity to learn about the quickly evolving retail industry.