With just two weeks to go until the annual Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping bonanza, how is it likely to shape up amid the global cost-of-living-crisis?
Will brands be in a position to make the most of their ecommerce strategies and convince us all to part with our cash while we all fret over heating our homes this winter?
We asked James Mortimer, Paid Social Director at iCrossing UK, to give us his ecommerce checklist for retailers and brands in this most exceptional of festive seasons…
The phrase ‘a year like no other’ has been thrown around quite a bit over the last couple of years. But in the challenging environment of a cost-of-living crisis, difficult supply chain issues and recruitment difficulties, retailers really are facing a huge challenge this year to capitalise on Black Friday and Cyber Monday or the subsequent festive shopping season.
Pressures throughout the year mean that Q4 2022 will literally be make or break for many retailers.
To help navigate through this key trading period we’ve combined all our ecommerce experience to put together our 2022 Black Friday Retailer Checklist.
Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL)
By the end of 2022 Black Friday and Cyber Monday is expected to have grown 50% year-on-year to be worth £23bn.
At the end of 2021 Amazon entered a partnership with Barclays to enable customers to pay for goods through installments.
Apple is also planning to let its credit card holders access a BNPL scheme when completing transactions with Apple Pay and even Deliveroo is considering introducing an option for customers to spread the payment of their orders.
With the cost of everything getting higher consumers are under more pressure to make their money go further.
One of the easiest ways to offer your customers more value right away is to offer BNPL at checkout.
Another option, partnering with a brand like Klarna could increase sales by up to 70%. Even if take up is low it could easily be the difference in converting users on high ticket items ahead of competitors that don’t have the option.
Be Consistent with Offers and Stand Out
Most retailers and ecommerce brands use Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) as an opportunity to either increase their overall volume of sales to hit annual targets or attract new customers at a loss that they hope to convert to profitable customers over time.
Depending on what your strategy is, your offers should reflect this goal but most importantly they need to stand out and be consistent.
Research conducted by Which found that 99% of BFCM details in 2021 weren’t actually new discounts.
This shows there is a huge opportunity to stand out with genuine offers and discounts. Whether that’s free shipping, a site wide discount or sector leading discounts on popular products.
What’s most important about setting discounts is ensuring they stay consistent over Q4.
Household expenditure is under more pressure than it has been for 40 years so finding out that an item purchased over BFCM is available at a better discount in the run up to Christmas is likely to kill off any hopes you had of growing long term value (LTV) from that user.
In the last two years understanding the results of your media spend has become a lot more complicated thanks to Apple’s iOS updates.
While this makes attribution and understanding your results more difficult, it’s no excuse for not having a strategy to work with the data that you do have.
Our default position on attribution is to focus on lifetime value. With so much uncertainty and regular change around attribution in the post iOS 14.5 world, it’s not the best use of time to deep dive into every set of figures each month to understand what each penny of media spend contributed that month.
Instead, we recommend doubling down on creating a system within your CRM that allows you to easily report on lifetime value.
If you can prove that your paid media channels are acquiring new customers that are then going on to become repeat customers, you can operate at breakeven or even at a loss for the initial ad delivery and still drive long term positive returns.
This approach isn’t perfect, but it gives retailers the opportunity to understand their numbers better and to ensure they are having a positive impact on their business long term.
There are different approaches to take but the most important thing is to have all of this in place before the sales period really kicks off. This will make determining success and knowing which levers to pull much more straightforward.
The challenges of attributing the significance of email marketing and SMS messaging when using traditional paid media, is increased for retailers and ecommerce brands this Black Friday.
Making sure that you have automated systems, with a provider like Mail Chimp for example, helps to easily set up custom journeys for each type of customer.
For example, if a user adds an item to a basket but doesn’t complete their sale you can set up a rule to send them an email with a reminder of how long the discount on that product is available for.
Reviewing your email lists and ensuring your automations are in place in the weeks leading up to Black Friday will make the week itself much more effective.
Emails that reference Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the subject line can increase CTR by 64%. So, it can still be a very effective channel to cut through the noise and clutter that’s taking place over the Black Friday week.
Logistics and Shipping
Ordering and fulfilment are regularly raised as key challenges for most retailers during Black Friday. This usually stems from order management and stock control.
Forecasting and planning ahead of time, with contingency plans in place, is essential for success over Black Friday.
Essentially, if you view Black Friday weekend as an opportunity to acquire new customers, ones that can grow to be profitable and loyal customers over time, then investment in logistics and shipping could logically be viewed as a marketing cost, rather than an additional operations spend.
Wherever your business chooses to categorise this investment, it doesn’t need to be reinventing the wheel. In fact, according to research by the UK Ecommerce Association speed of delivery isn’t everything when it comes to Black Friday deals.
However, ensuring as a business you’re able to fulfil orders in a reasonably timely manner will help in the battle of converting new customers into repeat shoppers.