Cyber Monday, which falls on the Monday following Thanksgiving, has become one of the most coveted shopping days of the year, as retailers offer special deals and incentives to encourage shoppers to spend more money online. Even if your online sales are only a fraction of your revenue, you should prepare for an influx of transactions. Last year, it’s estimated (PDF) that 127 million people shopped on Cyber Monday and 25 million shoppers said they would use mobile to do it.
So, how can you prepare? Below are seven tips for small businesses to prep your e-commerce site for the day.
1. Make Sure Your Website Can Handle the Traffic
Cyber Monday can bring many people to your site, and nothing will make them leave faster than slow load times. Check with your web host to determine what can be done to increase your site’s bandwidth to ensure there aren’t any slowdowns.
It’s possible that the web host has already made plans to beef up its speed on Cyber Monday, so look for any recently received emails that might outline the steps they have taken. It’s still worth a call, however, to verify that your site will stay up and running.
2. Identify Your Cyber Monday Deals
After you determine your Cyber Monday deals, you can proceed to doing the following:
- Stock up on an inventory for special product promotions or discounts.
- Market these deals to your current customer base.
- Project anticipated revenue.
If you intend to offer a discount on a specific product, make sure to stock up on the inventory. Also, make a plan for what you’ll do if you run out. And, in 2015, free shipping can be an ace in the hole for attracting online shoppers. If you’re able to offer some sort of free shipping, clearly define what your shipping parameters are (i.e. what’s the minimum purchase amount?) and which items will be eligible.
3. Make Sure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly
If you don’t have a mobile version of your e-commerce website, get one immediately. As stated above, 25 million shoppers did their Cyber Monday shopping via mobile in 2014. That is a gigantic number. Most website hosts, like Squarespace and WordPress, offer device-agnostic adaptations of your website so it can be viewed across multiple platforms. Even so, it’s still worth checking your site via a mobile device to ensure everything is where it should be.
4. Pictures, Pictures and More Pictures
Take pictures of all of your products, and do so from multiple angles. If possible—and appropriate—take a quick video demonstrating how a product works or to highlight its most interesting functions. These engaging elements will help customers to determine if the product is what they want, and may also entice shoppers to buy.
If you are selling a product that is available in multiple colors or patterns, do your best to take a picture of each one. This will go a long way toward closing a sale.
5. Leverage Your Social Media
You want to get the word out about your deals and specials. The best way to do that is online so use your Twitter feed and Facebook page to announce your deals. When you make your posts, include links to your e-commerce site or links to specific products that are on sale. Social media also gives you another place to showcase your product photos and videos.
If you do use your social media for promotion, make sure that someone is monitoring comments and direct messages (DMs) on Cyber Monday. You don’t want a customer’s question—or worse, complaint—to go unanswered.
6. Spend Time Trying to “Break” Your E-Commerce Site
If you’re making changes to your e-commerce site for Cyber Monday or the holidays in general, spend time testing links, clicking through pages, making dummy purchases and going through the entire transaction process like a customer. The reason you should do this is to find an error with your website before your customer does.
Most importantly, keep testing throughout Cyber Monday and the holidays. Even though the site works perfectly one day, links get broken and things stop working. Also, it’s possible that one of your partners—for example, the one that manages the shopping cart aspect of your site—might run into issues which could affect your site and customers.
7. Add to Your Customer Base With New Buyers
The beauty of Cyber Monday is that you now have the opportunity to convert a bunch of first-time shoppers into loyal customers. Do your best to capture email addresses and ask shoppers to opt in for deals and promotions. This can also lead to an increase to your Twitter followers and Facebook fans. Even an uptick of a hundred people can lead to exponential growth.
Engage with these customers, but be sure you don’t bombard them with emails and offers. Exercise cautious promotion.
Cyber Monday can be a huge boon to small businesses as much as it can to larger retailers. You will probably need to spend a bit more time preparing, however, as your site and staff are not accustomed to the type of traffic you may see. Follow the seven tips above and you’ll be on your way to Cyber Monday success.