As the holiday season approaches, eCommerce businesses are gearing up for the two most significant shopping days of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These hallmark days are not just significant cultural events; they’re pivotal for retailers. According to Adobe Analytics, consumers spent a record-breaking $9.12 billion online on Black Friday in 2020, and Cyber Monday followed closely with an impressive $11.3 billion in sales. With such high stakes, planning the perfect sales strategy is crucial.
Shipping Promotions: The Battle of Free vs. Flat Rate
One key factor in driving these sales is shipping. Consumers today are looking for the best deal, and often, the deciding factor between an abandoned cart and a sale is the shipping cost. Let’s look at the stats: A 2021 survey by the National Retail Federation found that 75% of consumers expect free shipping even on orders under $50. This expectation has only grown with the increasing dominance of big players like Amazon, who have set the bar high.
So, if you typically charge for shipping, how should you approach Black Friday and Cyber Monday? The data points toward free shipping as a powerful promotional tool. A Walker Sands study showed that 9 out of 10 consumers say free shipping is the No. 1 incentive when asked what would make them shop online more often. But it’s not just about customer preference. Free shipping has a direct impact on conversion rates. According to a Marketing Land report, offering free shipping can boost order conversion rates by 50%.
However, if free shipping across the board is not viable due to your margins, consider a strategic compromise: offering free shipping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday only, or setting a minimum purchase threshold to qualify for free shipping. A flat-rate shipping offer is another option. It simplifies the decision-making process for the customer, and a reasonable flat rate can still be an attractive alternative to variable shipping costs.
For stores that already offer free shipping, the key is to differentiate your Black Friday/Cyber Monday offers from your every day promotions. You need to add extra value or create a unique experience. One powerful promotional idea is to offer a “Spend and Get” promotion.
The “Spend and Get” Promotion: A Step-by-Step Guide
- Choose Your Gift – Select a gift that has universal appeal to your customer base, aligns with your brand, and complements your product range. It should also have a perceived high value but still be cost-effective for you to source. This could be a limited-edition item, a best-seller, or a partner product.
- Set Your Spend Threshold – Decide on a spend threshold that encourages a higher average order value (AOV) without being too daunting for the customer. Analyze your sales data to determine an appropriate threshold that is above your current AOV but still achievable for the customer.
- Market the Promotion – Create a marketing campaign that highlights the exclusivity and limited-time nature of the offer. Use email marketing, social media, and your website to build anticipation. Make sure to emphasize the value of the free gift and the special opportunity that Black Friday/Cyber Monday presents.
- Implement on Your eCommerce Store – Set up the promotion in your eCommerce store. This typically involves creating a promo code or an automatic discount that applies once the cart value reaches the predetermined threshold.
- Train Your Customer Service Team – Ensure your customer service team is well-informed about the promotion. They should be prepared to answer questions and upsell if a customer is close to the spend threshold.
- Follow-Up Post-Purchase – After the purchase, follow up with an email thanking the customer for their order and providing details about when they can expect their free gift. This not only reaffirms their decision to purchase but also keeps them engaged with your brand.
- Measure the Results – After the promotion, analyze your sales data. Did you see an increase in AOV? How did it affect your overall sales? What was the uptake on the free gift? Use this data to refine future promotions.
Execution: From Planning to Profits
Whether you’re offering free shipping or a unique “Spend and Get” promotion, the execution of your plan is just as important as the strategy itself. Here are some actionable tips:
- Start Early: Announce your promotions well in advance. This creates anticipation and gives customers time to plan their purchases.
- Create Urgency: Use countdown timers and stock level warnings to create a sense of urgency. This encourages on-the-spot decision-making.
- Leverage Retargeting: Use retargeting ads to bring back visitors who didn’t make a purchase on their first visit.
- Measure and Adapt: Keep an eye on your campaign’s performance in real-time and be prepared to adapt your strategy if something isn’t working.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday represent unparalleled opportunities for eCommerce retailers. By leveraging the right shipping promotions, such as free shipping or a thoughtfully crafted “Spend and Get” promotion, you can significantly enhance the appeal of your offers. Remember, the key is to stand out from the crowd with a deal that adds undeniable value. Prepare your strategy, plan your logistics, and ensure your website is ready for the rush. With the right approach, you can turn these high-traffic days into high-profit milestones for your business.
Scott Sanfilippo began his eCommerce journey in 1994 by co-founding one of the Internet’s first online retailers, TheFerretStore.com, which was acquired by PetCo in 2006. In 2001, he co-founded the eCommerce design and marketing firm Solid Cactus, which was acquired by web.com in 2009. Today, Scott is the General Manager of Your Store Wizards and lives in Delray Beach, FL. Scott can be contacted at email@example.com.