Selling Online During The Holidays 2018 (7 Ways to Boost Sales)

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The Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend is the biggest time of the year for eCommerce merchants. What was once a 24-hour sale has turned into a four-day event for shoppers around the globe.

In 2017, the world adopted Cyber Monday as mainstream which created a record-breaking holiday weekend event. Mobile shopping bypassed desktop in revenue and emails experienced the highest conversions ever. The biggest sales areas were apparel, accessories, and housewares. Shoppers in the United States spent $16 billion during the Black Friday weekend and on Cyber Monday, an additional $6.6 billion was spent in a single day!


With the holidays quickly approaching, many merchants worry about rising ad costs, customer service needs, inventory, shipping, fulfillment, and returns processes. These are all valid concerns and it is crucial to plan ahead so that you can anticipate the holiday rush without missing a beat.

To help with your planning, be sure to download a copy of Holiday eCommerce Revealed by Shopify. You’ll glean key strategy and insights from brands that generate $10 million+ each year in revenue.

When to start planning

If you've put off your 2018 planning, you’re not alone. Only 6% of large merchants are early birds that plan in Q1 while over 25% wait to start during Q4.

Whether you started planning last January or are just starting today, the key to maximizing BFCM profits is by planning and collecting the right data.

Making the Most of Low-Cost Ads NOW

By planning ahead, you can take advantage of the low-cost, paid ads in the days leading up to the event and avoid being sticker shocked when Facebook raises prices by 140% at the start of Black Friday.

You can also increase your client database by running ads now on social platforms. You’ll get your products in front of your targeted audience and spend a lot less on the ad campaign.

Plus, you’ll be able to target them specifically for Black Friday. Social Media is a great way to build your list so that when you’re ready to run ads during Black Friday, your audience is primed and ready for your product or service. 

Segment Your Acquired Audience

Segmenting your audience will reap huge benefits over a standard one-size-fits-all email blast. Be strategic and measure your results. Go with what works and ditch what doesn’t. Be sure to segment male and female lists - this is often the most overlooked segmentation strategy.

Prep Work & Best Practices for BFCM

You may see 3-4x the average daily sales around Black Friday so preparation is essential. It may be helpful to up your site speed and efficiency by using a company like Pingdom to help you identify areas that need improvement.

You will also want to target your most popular items and provide a seamless checkout experience. The planning doesn’t have to be overwhelming to be successful but there must be strategy driving it.

Below is a comprehensive checklist of best practices to enhance your online visibility during the Black Friday weekend event.

Make Your Site Aesthetically Pleasing

  • Create an optimized holiday theme (Aim for less story and brand and more selling. They are at your site to SHOP!)

  • Showcase your best sellers on the homepage and insert a slider

  • Change the menu navigation to highlight products

  • Create collections for curated gifts with names like “Great for Her/Him”

Enhance the Tech Side

  • Optimize images (no PNGs)

  • Combine multiple CSS & JS

  • Minimize DNS

  • Reduce apps & plugins

  • Reduce redirects

  • Avoid broken links

Market Strategically

  • Actively A/B test  EVERYTHING!

  • Use imagery, messaging, and graphics on all social channels and email blasts

  • Utilize apps like Optimizely, Neat A/B, and Hot Jar

  • Find out what is successful and what is not

Use Social Media

  • Post social proof like reviews and utilize Judge.me, Yotpo, and Shopify Reviews
  • Position your logo on all of your social feeds so that every platform is uniform
  • Speak the language of your customer on each social feed
  • Share what people love about your products on your Story features

Upgrade the Product Pages

  • Enhance product page messaging so that it is concise and simple
  • Make shipping times / expected day clearly visible
  • Create a clear Returns Policy - are you going to be extending warranty for gifts?
  • Emphasize low inventory (Adds pressure to purchase)
  • Consider a countdown ONLY for the holidays

Utilize Discounts

  • Offer (%) discounts if your products are under $100

  • Use Dollar ($) discounts if your products are over $100 (it’s more appealing psychologically)

  • Vary discounts each day (gives the consumer a reason to come back and allows the store to test what type of discounts work best)

  • Feature product recommendations or special combos

Optimize Average Order Value (AOV)

  • Free shipping over X value
  • Offer product bundling
  • Use apps like Bold Product Bundling and Freegifts app



Post-Holiday Analysis

You might feel like taking a breather but hold off until the post-holiday sales and analysis are over.

Evaluate your sales by product and feature and then focus on these products for your post-sale campaign. We recommend marketing the most popular products more often. To help get a better idea of data, collect from the obvious names like Google Analytics and Shopify Analytics. We also like Hot Jar and Glew.io.

Key Dates to Remember to Make BFCM a Success:

  • Email Marketing Blasts: November 1-22

  • Thanksgiving Pre-Sale: Celebrate with a Black Friday Pre-Sale. Less competition = Less marketing dollars spent.

  • Black Friday, Cyber Monday (BFCM): Offer different types of discounts for each day (give 24-hour notice for each)

  • December 15 Free Express Shipping: Incentivize shoppers by notifying that  this is their last day to order gifts for Christmas

  • December 26 Boxing Day: Great idea for a sale if you have international customers ie, Canada, UK, Australia..etc

Remember, the best time to start prepping for the holidays is TODAY! Download your copy of Holiday eCommerce Revealed by Shopify to learn what’s working for multi-million dollar eCommerce business owners and how you can implement these strategies into your business.

Here’s to a great eCommerce season. Cheers!

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