Shopify Ecosystem

Holidays, Unwrapped Recap: ‘Twas The Night Before BFCM — Final Preparations

‘Twas the night before Christmas,
When all through the stores,
Shoppers and sellers witnessed,
A BFCM like never before.

Okay. So, that’s not exactly how it goes, but you get the point. While it might be hard to believe, we’re just days away from Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM), and the kick off to what’s predicted to be a record breaking sales season. By now, you’re probably putting up the last few trimmings on your overall strategy, but contrary to the classic Christmas poem, there’s still lots of ‘scurrying’ about to do in preparation for the big day.

If you’ve been with us from the beginning of our Holidays, Unwrapped webinar series, we’ve covered everything from email to operations to help you make this your most profitable holiday season yet (if you’re just tuning in, get caught up here.)

What’s left to do in these final days? We asked some of eComm’s most successful holiday Cheermeisters (IYKYK) for their last minute tips, tricks, and to-do’s for the night before BFCM.

Here are 4 things to keep top-of-mind as we count down to the big day:

  1. It’s not about the holidays.
  2. Don’t play it safe.
  3. …But be smart.
  4. Surprise and delight.

Tip #1: It’s not about the holidays.

Yep. Read that again. This BFCM, your strategy shouldn’t just be about the holidays, and while that seems completely counter intuitive, there’s a good reason why: Customers are the lifeblood of your brand, which means you want them coming back month after month, year after year, and most importantly, long after the holidays have passed. Being focused is one thing, but brands that make the mistake of zeroing in so closely on the holidays that they lose sight of the bigger picture are missing out. Big time.

A strategy based on a myopic view of just a few short weeks in the year (without thinking of retention) is one way to ensure your sales funnel looks more like a straight pipe. With so much at stake during the holiday season, there’s no doubt you’re doing everything you can to generate and convert leads, but without considering the post-purchase experience in the midst of that frenzy, you’re risking a one-time only, disposable relationship with your customers. In the age of the customer, experience matters.

How much? A lot. According to a recent Walker Study, a customer’s experience with a brand has overtaken both price and product as the key brand differentiator. Paying attention to detail will make all the difference in standing out this holiday season and beyond.

Tip #2: Don’t play it safe.

Again, this one might seem counter intuitive, especially with the clock winding down. The last thing most brands would want to do at this point in the game is to make pivots and introduce risk, but our experts would tend to disagree. Part of delivering exceptional and memorable customer experiences depends on a brand’s ability to be cutting edge and agile.

Where are your customers spending most of their time online? What are some of the biggest pain points in their journey with you? What blind spots might you be overlooking? As you ask yourself these questions and try to think outside the box in your approach to problem solving.

For example, we’re all spending a heck of a lot more time on our mobile devices these days — are you capitalizing on this channel? If you’re not leveraging text and SMS, our experts recommend you give it a go to test this channel out this holiday season. And not just in the pre-purchase phase. Beyond helping to close the deal, texting can be an incredibly efficient way to manage the post sale experience, too, from shipping notifications to customer service communications. As a matter of fact, did you know that most SMS notifications from brands have an open rate of over 90%? That’s a lot more than the standard 19% from email. Trying out a new channel is just one example, but the point remains: with such high volumes during BFCM, it’s actually a great time to try something new. Sticking to what works is never a bad idea, but you may also be risking more than you’d think.

When we asked our experts what incentive there would be to adopt new marketing strategies during this time, they were unanimous in their response that being agile is critical to long-term growth. Whether that’s in the channels you’re leveraging, or the tactics you’re using, think big this holiday season and the reward might be even bigger.

Tip #3: …but be smart

Which brings us to the next point: don’t play it safe, but be smart about it.

This one’s important. While we know that recency bias plays a role due to the pandemic, looking at your data is an absolute must. Doing so allows you to take calculated risks. Where can you afford to take chances that might have a huge payoff, and where might it be better to stick to what works? Data-driven insights are the only way to know for sure.

Here’s what our experts recommend playing close attention to:

  • Profit Margins (vs. revenue): Revenue is important, but if we’re talking about the success of your business, profit matters. What are your highest and lowest selling items and what are the margins on each? Understanding the profit margins of your products will help you make informed decisions on everything from inventory, to sales and discounts — and over the long term, how you invest back into the business.
  • Customer Experience Stats: frequently looking at the lifetime value (LTV), net promoter score (NPS), and satisfaction (CSAT) of your customers is key to making sure that you are creating long lasting and loyal relationships between them and your brand.
  • Channel Orchestration: use the holiday season to see what consumer behavior says about your strategy. Focusing on experience and profit are important, but if you’re not reaching your customers in the optimal channel (or at all), the previous points are moot.

Tip #4: Surprise and delight

What’s the best gift you can give to your customers this holiday season? Experiences that surprise and delight. Back to this conversation about calculated risks…a huge part of making BFCM profitable for your business and enjoyable for your customers is to mitigate those risks that are foreseen. Take shipping delays and mishaps, for example. This is an issue every year, COVID notwithstanding. And while technically, at this phase in the customer journey, your product, and their joy, is literally in someone else’s hands — when it goes wrong, customers tend to place blame on the brand (about 84% of the time, to be exact).

If we know shipping issues are part and parcel of the BFCM experience, then there’s surely things you can do to get ahead of it. Outside of recommendations from our previous sessions, what things can you do to go above and beyond for your customers? Perhaps try offering SMS updates, beefing up your customer support, or even offering FAQs with those questions you know you’ll get all of the time. The more seamless the experience, the better.

Outside of avoiding risks and absorbing customer pain points, a big part of the holiday magic comes from personalization. Take your site, for example. Are you personalizing the experience to optimize for the customer? This could be in the sales promotions and discounts, but also in the recommendations. Let’s face it, holiday shopping can be stressful, especially when you’re trying to find the perfect gift for that special someone.

Tailored recommendations are a great way to take the hassle out of that process, but it’s also good for your bottom line. This applies for after customers have purchased from you, too. We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve needed to buy a last-minute gift. Be sure to reach back out to your BFCM shoppers this year and check in. You’ll be glad you did.

And that’s a wrap on our Holidays, Unwrapped series! Be sure to catch the rerun here to get all the details from our speakers at Rebuy, Route, Attentive, and Daasity.

We hope you were able to get some valuable insights that will last you long after the tinsel comes down. But before we go signing off for the BFCM frenzy, we’ve got one last gift for you. Toss out your chicken scratch notes from the series and download our eBook instead. We’ve gathered together all the best tips from the entire series and put them in a convenient toolkit so you’ve got the recipe for success right at your fingertips.

Special thanks to our friends at Daasity for their insights on this topic.
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