The pinnacle of the ecommerce calendar, Black Friday, is the busiest and most lucrative time of year for most online retailers. But, it’s also the weekend that generates the fiercest competition. In the battle for customers, you need more than discounts to stand out. As you target savvy shoppers and practiced bargain-hunters this holiday season, one thing is certain: you need an utterly effortless shopper experience. Read on for the steps you should take now to optimize the Black Friday shopper experience.
Black Friday is More Competitive Than Ever
The shift to online shopping for Black Friday is here to stay. Year-over-year, ecommerce sales experience consistent growth across the entire “Cyber 5” weekend, spanning Black Friday to Cyber Monday. As a snapshot of the industry’s performance in 2021, US consumers:
- Spent $8.9billion online on Black Friday
- Increased cart values by 14% year-on-year on Cyber Monday
- Made 44% of Black Friday purchases via mobile
However, just because shoppers have turned to ecommerce in droves, doesn’t mean you can sit back and wait for the sales to roll in. Post-pandemic, there is more competition than ever when it comes to online retail. Businesses of all sizes have shifted their focus to ecommerce, while the usual contenders continue to dominate:
- Amazon single-handedly commanded 41% of all US ecommerce sales in 2021
- 26% of ecommerce sales occurred via the remaining top 10 online stores
- 1 in 3 large businesses successfully expanded their online sales in 2020, while 1 in 4 small businesses did the same
So, what can you do to stand out in a crowded marketplace this Black Friday?
5 Shopper Experience Essentials for Black Friday 2022
Don’t launch a Black Friday campaign until these shopper experience essentials are in place.
1. Make it Personal
Your customers expect more than a generic, one-size-fits-all shopping experience. For repeat visitors in particular, your store should adapt to their preferences and buying patterns for a more personalized journey. For example, just because you have a great deal on men’s shoes, doesn’t mean you should push this offer on a shopper that shows an interest in black dresses. To engage and convert, you need to keep your product recommendations hyper-relevant to each individual customer.
2. Merchandise, Merchandise, Merchandise
Whether you run a 50% site-wide discount, or a series of category flash sales over the Black Friday weekend, you need to clearly communicate your offers through merchandising. Shoppers will be on the lookout for the best deals in the run up to Thanksgiving, so make sure your site messaging is up to date. From your homepage banners to product page badges, create eye-catching visuals that highlight your offers. For a consistent shopper experience on and off-site, make sure to incorporate the same banners across email communications and social media.
3. Test with Secret Shoppers
There’s no such thing as too much testing before a key date like Black Friday. Conduct a full site audit in advance of the holidays to identify and fix any glitches on your store. Once you’re confident the technical bases are covered, it’s time to test your user experience. Often, those who work on your ecommerce team are so familiar with your site that they become blind to experiential gaps. Instead, ask friends or family members if you can observe them while they browse your site and purchase a list of products. You may be surprised by the challenges you spot through a secret shopper’s eyes.
4. Aim for Long-Term Loyalty
Long-term loyalty is worth so much more than an annual spike in sales. Offers and discounts may attract new customers to your store at this time of year, but a seamless shopping experience is what brings them back when Black Friday is all over. Provide an incentive at checkout to join your loyalty program or subscriber list. Share a discount code that can be redeemed against a subsequent order. Send a follow up email with recommendations based on their first purchase. Simple personal touches can be the start of a brand relationship that lasts long beyond the holidays.
5. Don’t Forget the Checkout
One of the most common pitfalls in the ecommerce shopper experience is the checkout process. Black Friday customers tend to buy with a sense of urgency – they’re often worried that their chosen product will sell out, or your sale will expire. Unfortunately, nothing discourages a quick purchase like a slow checkout. Don’t place unnecessary steps, forms, or fields in the way of a conversion. Strip your checkout back so you only ask for details you absolutely need to process the transaction, and allow shoppers to autofill as much as possible. Check out these dos and don’ts for an easy checkout experience for more tips.
Win Black Friday with Exceptional Shopper Experiences
Deep discounts and short-term strategies will only achieve so much this holiday season. To stand out from the competition and make a lasting impact, retailers must focus on building relationships and delivering an engaging buyer journey. For more insights on how to optimize your Black Friday shopper experience, make sure to subscribe to our Black Friday Webinar Series. As the busiest shopping period of the year approaches, we bring together leading ecommerce experts to share their advice on how you can prepare your store and win Black Friday 2022!