Since March, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused our shopping habits to change, with more stores, even local ones, converting to digital purchases and curbside pickup.
And now, Google is reporting that many Black Friday shoppers will choose to shop online rather than in person. This may not seem like a huge shift, as we've already seen, the rise of online e-commerce dominance, as consumers take to the ease of online shopping instead of stores for the best deals.
However, there is more than meets the eye to e-commerce, and as we roll into the busiest online shopping season of the year, it is important to ensure your business is equipped to handle it and come out successful.
What Should Businesses Do To Prepare?
To start, we need to view this Black Friday and Cyber Monday season from outside the traditional blueprint. The normal rules no longer apply. Instead, focus on asking yourself how can I make my online store more approachable?
To prepare, businesses need to examine their online customer experience with a fine-toothed comb. Test and retest your user experiences far in advance of any big sales.
This is so important this year more than others because we should all be expecting a new influx of customers who traditionally visit the brick and mortar over online. You don’t want to lose a sale due to an online malfunction.
With so many new users visiting your site, it is important to ensure your website is easy to navigate. Have some friends or family members jump on to navigate the site and offer valuable feedback, ensure it is running at high speed, and can handle a large capacity of people at one time.
Many users may visit from mobile devices such as smartphones, or tablets, making mobile optimization a top priority when planning your Black Friday strategy. “The Black Friday Bounce,” is another thing to consider, with most users bouncing between various devices. A non-linear path to purchase is the norm for many Black Friday shoppers, so cross-device tracking is a must-have to deliver seamless, customer-centric journeys. For example, persistent shopping carts across your mobile site, app, and desktop presence let holiday shoppers easily pick up where they left off on the channel they prefer.
Offer customer service options such as Livechat, for users to quickly and easily access online help from real people. Chatbots, another great option to have in place when livechats are busy. Chatbots can offer answers to frequently asked questions.
Consider extending the return window on any deals, as many users will need and appreciate the extra time to process their returns. Ensure you have an equipped customer service team that can be accessed through a variety of channels, that is large enough to handle the new influx of customers.
Curbside Pick Up
For consumers who prefer in-store experiences, consider offering curbside pickup or click and collect. This allows customers to go online and place their orders, and then pick up at the store to receive their items while still maintaining proper social distancing protocols. This can offer an added bonus of lessening the number of items that need to be shipped out.
Encourage Safe In-store Shopping
If you are planning to hold in-store sales, see to it that you enforce strict health and safety measures.
Retailers should find ways to safely accommodate customers who wish to browse goods and make purchases in person. Retailers need to ensure that these in-store experiences are low risk, which can be achieved by setting up temporary open-air suites, limiting the number of people allowed in the store, and ensuring that all customers wear masks while inside the store.
Another safety precaution to implement? Contactless shopping.
For Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consider touchless checkout for in-person shopping. Many retailers (and restaurants) still do not have touchless checkout, there is still time for retailers to update their POS for this change.
Additionally, retailers cannot allow the lines to be as large and compact as before based on social distancing guidelines. This means utilizing better queues and being thoughtful with insider access and ticketing for Black Friday.
Ready for BFCM 2020?
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are approaching and it will be interesting to see how these shopping events play out. If you’re planning to run BFCM campaigns, take note of the insights and tips above to ensure you offer a safe and successful shopping experience, in-store or online.