Retail Management
eCommerce

8 Tips to Prepare Your eCommerce Store for Cyber Monday Perfection

Published by in eCommerce

It’s almost the holidays again. There’s a song I used to sing as a child that always puts me right in the spirit:

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,

#Minter keeping me from being tired.*

All the sales, on the web,

Will keep my wallet empty toooooday.

*The # is silent, as its etymology is Germanic, like the silent ‘k’.

cyber monday copy

Ah, yes, that classic Cyber Monday carol always gets me so excited to shop all the sales.

All kidding aside, Cyber Monday doesn’t have any songs about it yet, but it very well might in the future. It’s one of Americans’ favorite days to shop, and it’s fast outpacing Black Friday as the day to spend all your money before Christmas. Last year, sales crossed $2 billion – making it the biggest shopped day online ever.

As an eCommerce store, that’s pretty exciting news. With the right setup you could see your largest sales by a long shot of the whole year. So how do you make sure your store is set up for success on Cyber Monday? Let me walk you through it.

1. Keep your sale simple.

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As I mentioned in my recent post about preparing your store for Black Friday, keeping your sale simple and easy to understand is the key to ensuring that people are interested in your sale. Run no more than 5 specials. Make sure they all can easily be found on your homepage. Then knock a certain percentage off the rest of your store in total.

Essentially, you want a customer coming to your page for a special, like 60% off TVs, and discovering that all the other electronics are also 40% off, so they should check out the rest of the deal. If a customer comes to your page for the TV, and sees that all wires are 30% off, all radios are 25% off if they’re over $60, and all phones are 33% off after 3pm, they’re far less likely to peruse your store. In fact, they may even wonder if the TV deal is really as straightforward as they thought, and go purchase a TV from a store with a clearer deal.

2. Offer free shipping.

You should offer free shipping every day of the year, actually. Free shipping, when done correctly, can raise your company’s net profit by 30%! Some companies have seen as much as 90% more orders!

So how do you do it correctly? The most important thing is to set a free shipping threshold. That means that customers must spend a certain amount in order to receive free shipping. People tend to be more willing to spend $15 extra dollars on an item than spend $4 on shipping, because the item has a higher perceived value than the shipping.

You will have to test to discover which threshold is most profitable for you. Many companies set the threshold at $50, but you may find that at $50, you’re losing money, and need to raise the limit. You may also find, though, that you can make a profit off setting the limit at $20. No matter what, the two factors at play when testing are:

  • The threshold has to be low enough for people to feel that spending the threshold amount is worth it.
  • The threshold also has to be high enough that you are making back the shipping fee and your chosen profit margin.

Once you’ve implemented free shipping, you may want to incorporate some elements involving it around your website. You’ll want to put a small banner announcing the threshold at the top of every page like this:

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Additionally, you may want to include a call-to-action in the cart that tells the shopper how much more they must spend to get free shipping. You could have this CTA follow them around on every page, like this CTA on Loft’s page:

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You could even suggest items in the CTA that would cause them to hit the threshold. If you have enough data on the customer, you could also personalize those items to what you think they’d really be interested in. Check out how ModCloth has done it:

For Cyber Monday

3. Set your website up for Cyber Monday.

Much like a store needs to re-set somewhat for Black Friday to make sure that all the specials are within sight of the door, and that the windows and signage all announce the sales, your site needs to both proclaim the sales and make it easy for shoppers to find the specials, etc. Like so:

via Milani

via Milani

At the very least, you should make a branded Cyber Monday skin for at least your home page, with CTAs that explain the sale to shoppers. You should make sure that you site is super navigable for customers who are coming in specifically for certain sales. It may be best to put your Cyber Monday specials right on the homepage, or links straight out to each special from the homepage. This was an area Amazon really struggled with during their titular Prime Day Sale, last summer.

4. Make sure to do your keyword research.

Before Cyber Monday (preferably long before), you want to make sure to do research on search keywords that get a lot of traffic, but that are low-competition enough that you could rank for them.

You want to make sure you’re ranking where people will see you. Search engines are the equivalent of an eCommerce store’s storefront. You want to make sure that you’re at the top of the search results for the most relevant keywords to help new customers find you. For instance, if you’re an electronics store, you will likely want to rank in the top 5 for “cheap tvs” and “cyber monday TV sales.” For best results, use Google’s keyword tool to discover which keywords are most effective for you.

Once you figure out which keywords are good for you to rank on, you need to implement some SEO best practices to encourage Google’s crawlers to push you to the top.

5. Do a test run.

If you ran a brick and mortar store, you’d make sure that your store was clear of fire hazards and was as open as possible to the Black Friday crowds. The equivalent of that for eCommerce stores is the test run. Here’s your to-do list:

  • Work with your server to make sure that you are capable of hosting the maximum amount of shoppers you could possibly fantasize about having at one time.
  • Have a non-affiliated set of fresh eyes (like your best friend, your spouse, your mom – just someone who doesn’t work for you) go through your planned Cyber Monday set-up with the goal of purchasing one of your specials, and perhaps an additional product, to make sure that the user experience is as easy and intuitive as possible. The fresh eyes are critical here. You’re biased – you chose to set up your UX for very particular reasons, and you probably are blinded to how a real customer would actually see things.

6. Make sure that your inventory and warehouse is ready.

First, you don’t want to run out of a product – especially if your site doesn’t update to reflect sell-outs in real-time. Then you will be facing many angry customers who want their cheap TVs. So make sure your inventory is reasonably well-stocked. You can do this by using your eCommerce reporting to check out how your specials sold last year, as well as seeing what it predicts for your sales.

Second, make sure that you have enough packing material, and enough packers, to get things shipped out by Tuesday night at the latest. As someone who once spent 9 hours on the Tuesday after Cyber Monday packing packages, I’m telling you: all that shipping is going to take a LOT of work and a LOT of materials. Ensure that you have enough workers in place, and that they are well-trained in your packing procedures. You don’t want sad-looking packages showing up on people’s doorsteps  a month after they ordered them.

This is Amazon's distribution center on Cyber Monday.

This is Amazon’s distribution center on Cyber Monday.

7. Build hype with marketing.

First, please note that when building hype for Cyber Monday, you need to do it gently so as not to lose sales before Cyber Monday.

There are plenty of ways to build hype in the days preceding Cyber Monday:

1. You can have a small countdown to Cyber Monday on your site to let current customers know that you’re planning on having a sale. Don’t specify the sale until perhaps the day before. This countdown should be easy to see, but relatively unobtrusive. The goal is to have current customers think, “They’re doing something for Cyber Monday! I’ll be back!” not “They’re doing something for Cyber Monday, I’ll just wait to shop ‘til then.” An example of a good countdown is this ticker on Loft (for a non-Cyber Monday related sale).

It was hard not to spend all my money while writing this article.

It was hard not to spend all my money while writing this article.

2. Make use of your email list. Have a short campaign in the week leading up to Cyber Monday. You may choose to tell the sale ahead of time to your email list, or you may choose to release a week-long series of hints as to what the sale will be.

3. Utilize your social media accounts to build hype for the sale. Once again, you could choose to release a series of hints ahead of time, or you may choose to run a special social contest around Cyber Monday.

4. Do some advertising on social. Advertising with Facebook is super cheap, making it simple to easily get the word out to thousands of potential customers. Like, $10/day cheap. And it has some incredible targeting capabilities for B2C advertising.

How exactly should you target an audience on Facebook? Here are a few methods:

  • You can do remarketing, where you aim your ads at people who have visited your website before. Remarketing is one of the most successful types of targeting because you’re targeting people who are already familiar with your brand, and are therefore likely interested in it.
  • You can also upload your current email list to Facebook, which will then create a list of people to target who are similar in demographics to your email list.
  • You can also pick and choose certain demographics you want to advertise to, like gender, interests, and location (as local as zip codes). You’re also able to layer all these demographics together, getting as specific as possible.

Make sure to send your potential customers to a landing page that tells them about the sale – or the day of, that sends them right to the sale.

9. Alert customers when things in their cart go on sale.

You may want to set up a system that alerts customers (via email, text, or your app) if/when any items that they have sitting in an abandoned cart. This tactic brings customers who are already interested in your products right to your page.

8. Collect emails!

Finally, make sure you’re not missing out on any opportunities to turn new customers into repeats. Set up different forms across your site to capture visitors’ emails.

One extremely effective way is to have a lightbox with an email form pop-up after the visitor has been on your page for a certain amount of time. The time can vary depending on what your customer responds best to. (Yes – that means testing!) It’s also a great idea to offer something in return for the email. You could give your promotion code in return for their email, or offer an extra 5 or 10% off for their email. Check out what Loft does:

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More?

Those are my eight tips to ensure Cyber Monday success for your store. What other tips would you give to eCommerce businesses looking to prepare their store for Cyber Monday? Let me know in the comments!


Looking for eCommerce software? Check out Capterra's list of the best eCommerce software solutions.

About the Author

Cara Wood

Cara Wood

Cara Wood is a marketing associate at Capterra and a graduate of Mary Washington! When she's not hard at work at Capterra, she can be found horse-back riding, reading and just generally having a good time at life.

Comments

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Comment by Alex Forbes on

I recently wrote something similar but from a sales tax compliance perspective. One thing I would recommend retailers do is make sure any new products or marketing offers are properly coded in their sales tax compliance engine for proper taxability. The last thing a retailer wants is unhappy customers overcharged sales tax on an item, or bundle, given they may not have had to pay any sales tax online before June of last year.

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Comment by Cara Wood on

Thanks! I’m so glad you think these are useful!

Comment by Jason on

Great Tips, thanks so much! There is a lot more to having a sale, than just saying it and posting about it in a few places.

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