Making the most of Cyber Monday 2019 for businesses

Move over pumpkin spice. The season of peppermint and gingerbread is now upon us.

With bells and wreaths on full display, the American Thanksgiving weekend marks the unofficial start of the “most wonderful time of the year.” And for retail businesses, it marks the start of the busiest time of the year. The upcoming Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday will surely keep small and medium-sized businesses busy as shoppers frantically look for deals to help check off their holiday gift list.

In its annual forecast, Adobe predicts US holiday online shopping will reach a whopping $143.7 billion this year, an increase of 14.1% from 2018. What’s more, Cyber Monday 2019 (December 2nd), is expected to set a new record as the largest and fastest-growing online shopping day of the entire year, with $9.4 billion in sales.

And since there are only 22 peak shopping days this holiday season, six fewer than in 2018, it’s wise for businesses to make the most of the key retail days.

Here are a few ways that businesses can prepare for and take advantage of one of the main holiday season shopping occasions: Cyber Monday.

Website prep

Cyber Monday is about all things, well, cyber. That means making sure your website can handle the surge of online holiday shoppers should be at the very top of your to-do list.

The heavy online traffic that comes with Cyber Monday has been known to crash websites, which is a sure-fire way to drive away shoppers. Consumers are looking to jump on timely deals, and they’re not going to wait around for your website to finally get back online – so your downfall could be your competitor’s windfall.

The key to avoiding a website crash during the biggest ecommerce shopping day of the year is to test your online platform and create a contingency plan in case the unexpected happens. It’s also a good idea to keep the contact information of your hosting provider, development team, and credit card processor handy.

Slow load times can also deter would-be shoppers. Run a speed test to determine what might be the reason your website load times are lagging. Google has some useful tools to help with this.

It’s also a good idea to do a site survey to check for any broken hyperlinks.

Making sure your website is up to snuff by spotting and fixing website weaknesses before they become a problem will save you from unnecessary stress and lost revenue.

Mobile optimization

More and more consumers are using smartphones and tablets to shop. In fact, this year it’s expected that 44.7% of US retail ecommerce sales will come from mobile devices. And that figure is set to reach 53.9% by 2021.

Online shopping is no longer about sitting in front of a computer to make purchases. It’s about the ability to shop wherever and whenever on any connected device. As this technology develops and becomes more accessible to more parts of the world, mobile commerce will be a big part of Cyber Monday 2019.

According to Adobe, Americans will spend $14 billion more this holiday season on their phones compared to last year.

If you don’t have a mobile app for your business, don’t worry – you can still take steps to optimize your site for mobile devices. And, yes, that is important. According to Google research, 73% of consumers will switch from a poorly designed mobile site to one that makes purchasing easier.

Not sure how to tell if your website is mobile-friendly? Google has a handy tool that will test your site and, if it’s not mobile-optimized, show what elements need to be fixed.

All about BOPIS

There’s a new acronym making waves in the retail sector: BOPIS. It’s the shortened, buzzword version of buy online, pickup in-store. And its popularity has skyrocketed in recent years. The practice, not the term. I mean, imagine yourself saying this in a meeting and try not to laugh.

Adobe’s predictions are pegging BOPIS orders to increase by 39% this holiday season compared to last year. Not only does offering BOPIS increase online sales, but it also helps drive in-store transactions as well. According to Adobe, 82% of BOPIS shoppers said they would likely browse for additional purchases when picking up their online order.

BOPIS is also an ideal way to encourage consumer loyalty, since it lets shoppers make online purchases without having to pay for shipping – meaning they’ll come back, again and again, to take advantage of the cost-savings.

So, if you’ve been resisting jumping on the BOPIS bandwagon, you might want to take a second look at how it could benefit your business during the holiday season and year-round.

 

Exclusive offers

Cyber Monday isn’t just an opportunity to offer discounts. It can also be a strategic occasion to launch a new product.

Think we’re joking? Consider this: last year, Allbirds, a popular shoe startup, decided to drop a limited-edition sneaker on Cyber Monday. Within 24 hours, they were almost sold out. But, here’s the kicker, Allbirds didn’t (and never has by practice) offer a discount on the limited-edition footwear.

For consumers, it was the excitement of getting their hands on a pair of exclusive, limited-edition shoes (maybe for them, maybe for someone else) while holiday shopping that drove the response to Allbirds’ Cyber Monday release.

Granted, it’s almost certainly too late to get a new product out the door in time for Cyber Monday 2019 unless you just happen to have something sitting on the backburner all ready to go (along with a killer marketing strategy). But it’s something to keep in mind when you’re creating next year’s business and marketing plans. Be sure to start promoting the release early to generate some buzz and anticipation.

Another option is to have a hard-to-pass-up discount/offer available on Cyber Monday to customers who have an account with your business or have signed up for your newsletter. It’s a perfect way to get more customers to sign up and attract more sales at the same time. Talk about a win-win.

No matter what strategies you use for Cyber Monday, and throughout the rest of the holidays, remember to keep the customer experience at the forefront. The holiday shopping season is hectic for consumers and businesses alike. But making interactions with your business a seamless and enjoyable experience will help ensure your company stays top of mind for consumers throughout the year.

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