Things to consider when preparing for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Tech Tuesday and other e-commerce Sale periods.

Sales are a natural part of an e-commerce strategy and can be very beneficial to both the merchant and the customer if organised strategically.

Many of my clients ask me what they should consider when it comes to preparing for a big sale such as Black Friday Cyber Monday. Preparation is not as complicated as many think and can be broken down into 2 key preparation pillars which include:

Operational Planning
Revenue optimization techniques

This article will discuss these 2 pillars with the aim to give you the tips needed to plan and execute a sale that delivers great results.

When preparing for a sale you must ensure that the operational element of the business is adequately planned for.

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Operational Planning is so diverse and comprises of but not limited to inventory planning, sales projecting, labour debt prep, website optimization and more.

Before getting into the nitty gritty details of operations it is a good idea to first have the process in place which enables you to assess all potential tasks for your business to be ready for the big day. Brainstorm all possible tasks you can think of and assign task/project owners with clear deadlines. For instance allow enough time to order inventory to protect against any unexpected supplier delays.

Many e-commerce managers struggle with knowing exactly what and how much they should order for a sale as dead stock is something that they rightfully try to avoid. How do you know which product to sell? It is difficult to predict the future, however looking at historical data will put you on the right path. Look at sales by product and by month compared to previous years when sales were ran. Other things include traffic and conversion rates during a similar sale held in the past; what was your return on marketing ad spend like during similar sale periods? By asking yourself these questions you will have an easier time forecasting correctly and mitigating the risk of dead stock.

Website preparation is also another key component to a successful online sale. Page speed is one of the biggest factors to whether a customer converts on your site or not. Research has shown that a 1 second delay in page loading results in an 11% decrease in potential page views, 16% fall in customer satisfaction and a 7% drop in conversions. It is important that you have your frontend developers ready to optimize your website leading up to, during and after the sale. Tools such as Pingdom and Google pagespeed insights combined with a thorough health check as detailed by the Shopify website healthcheck report is a good place to start with making sure your site is equipped to handle an increase in demand from potential buyers.

Labour debt is another factor to consider when preparing for a sale.

It is imperative that all current tasks are assessed to see if there are any that could be streamlined or automated to reduce workload and free up labour to be allocated elsewhere. Failure to consider labour debt for a company can result in being understaffed and unable to deliver on customer expectations which will damage the company’s brand.

The amount of revenue generated is one of the biggest measures of a successful sale event. It is important to leverage revenue optimization techniques to reap the rewards during and after the sale.  Building brand and product awareness weeks before a sale is a good way to expand your audience and connect with potential customers before the actual day. Google describes multiple customer interactions a business has as the zero moment of truth – where businesses have various opportunities to interact with potential customers and be top of mind when they are ready to finally make a purchase.

Expanding your audience reach as much as possible before a sale has its benefits. Connecting with your audience in advance with the aim to convert them into quality site visitors should be your main focus. Returning visitors are 2–3 times more likely to make a purchase than first-time visitors and existing customers are 9 times more likely to make a purchase. The focus should be to connect and acquire as many ways to make visitors familiar of your brand and product offering so that you can market to them throughout the purchase decision making phase.

How you connect with your customers after a sale will determine whether the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) increases, stays the same or reduces. The CLV measures the profit your business makes from any given customer. After care is paramount, reaching out to customers for feedback and reviews whilst also encouraging them to participate in your loyalty program will help to stay top of mind in this competitive environment where customers have more choice and purchasing power.

To conclude, there are an array of things to consider when planning for a sale. In order to plan for success you need to allow yourself adequate time to assess and highlight the areas that need to be immediately addressed to prevent any delays to the launch.  Revenue optimization and after care also play a solid part in the outcome of an event, using historical data from previous sales you can be equipped to host a sale that not only generates profit but also builds a solid customer base.

About the author: Sinead is an e-commerce consultant with the emphasis in using Shopify as a platform to do business and grow brands. Starting her career at Google she developed an advanced understanding of Google products including Search, Display and Youtube to enhance business performance online. Sinead is seeking ways to help e-commerce SMBs develop their online strategy to connect with quality visitors eventually converting them to loyal customers.