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October 27, 2014

Are you ready for Cyber Monday?

The busiest online shopping day of the year,

‚ÄòCyber Monday’ is almost upon us (the 1st of December). This is the Monday following Black Friday (a phenomenon in the US, as retailers offer huge discounts to make the most of the start of the Christmas shopping boom). Although many UK retailers originally dismissed Cyber Monday as ‘just another marketing tactic’ originating from over the Atlantic. Cyber Monday has now firmly established itself as a landmark shopping day for e-sellers.

In fact, Cyber Monday 2013 was the ‚Äòsingle biggest retail day online that the UK has ever witnessed’ according to Experian. This saw retail records taken to a new high with UK Internet users making 115 million visits to retail sites. This figure was up by 2 million on 2012. Amazon UK made an astounding 4.1m sales that day with orders coming in at a rate of 47 items a second. They saw the peak of activity at 9.22 pm.

With numbers like the above, Cyber Monday looks like it is here to stay for the foreseeable future and online retailers cannot afford to ignore it. While Amazon is a high profile example, this is an opportunity which most on-line retailers can benefit from. If your price is right, your store is ready and your processes are up to scratch; the opportunity to significantly increase your sales is vast.

The finer details make the biggest difference to your sales so below we have listed just some of the considerations you need to start thinking about to ensure your store is ready for the demand and that the 1st of December is your most profitable day of the year.


Plan your special offers

If this has not been thought about already, then this should become an urgent priority. Think about the products that will sell. It is unlikely that you will see great results if you focus on trying to use this simply to shift last season’s stock. You may have some success with this but also think about which deals will appeal to customers. The larger US retailers often have ‚Äòheadline’ deals on a ‚Äòwhen it’s gone, it’s gone’ basis that they use to draw in shoppers. We have also seen them pre-advertising their offers in recent years and this has been used to great effect so might be something to consider.

Check stock levels

This may sound pretty basic but make sure all of your promotional items are in fully in stock. It is surprising how many retailers forget this simple task and get carried away with getting the bargains online as quickly as possible. It is fine to offer a headline offer with ‚Äòwhile stocks last’ but broadly speaking, there is no point in having great offers if you can’t fulfil them and this will simply damage your brand reputation. Here we would encourage you to think about what messaging you are going to give for out of stock items ‚Äì can you facilitate pre-order?

Enhance customer shopping experience through design

There will be a lot of noise and clutter out there so we suggest keeping the design clean and simple. Showcase your products and offers but do not clutter the site with un-necessary information. We always believe that a good eCommerce site should be clean and coherent and this is still the case on Cyber Monday. The main thing is to make sure that your best offers are highlighted above the fold on your home page and perhaps try to give it a special Cyber Monday feel with a re-skin.

Can your servers handle the increased traffic?

It is likely that your website will see a significant increase in traffic and hopefully transactions so you need to ensure that your servers are ready for the increase in demand? Users will be fast to vote with their mouse and click away if there are problems, so start running tests now to check that your systems can cope. Remember that there will be thousands of alternative sites ready and waiting with their offers ready to snap your frustrated customers up.

Update your PPC campaigns

While I am sure that you are already thinking about your ad copy for the festive period, it is worth creating Cyber Monday specific ad copy to attract those ‚ÄòDeal Junkies’ on the day.

When updating your ads, think about what you can do with your landing pages and what you can do to draw attention to any special offers you are running. This may mean that you need to change or pause some ads but with the majority of traffic looking for deals and offers, now is the time to direct shoppers to your best deals. While we always recommend carefully monitoring campaigns carefully, on Cyber Monday it is truly critical to monitor throughout the day to ensure that any budget caps are not preventing potential sales. You may find that a traditionally poor ad group suddenly starts to perform so be ready for this and be prepared to action changes as the day progresses.

Ensure your delivery service is up to standard

Many retailers will be boasting short delivery lead times so take a look at your offering and ask yourself if you can stand up to the competition. If they have a better service offering to you, you might lose customers. Can you offer next day delivery? Depending on your shipping provider, you will likely need to contact them directly to find out if this is possible. If it’s not an option then could you offer free postage and packaging?

Be sure to present your customers with the best value as possible because that’s exactly what they’ll be looking for. Delivery times can make or break a sale so make sure you don’t miss out. Any offer, including click and collect, free or next day delivery, is guaranteed to get shopper’s attention and it’s the small details like this that can make all the difference.

Be prepared for increased customer service support

With increased traffic and sales, you can expect an inevitable increase in pressure on customer services and your pick, pack and despatch. You need to create an action plan for Cyber Monday and the following days. Ensure your most senior staff are all able to work and that you are fully resourced. Also ensure that the team are well versed with the deals that are on-site. Customer service will be central to your online reputation so Cyber Monday is potentially the worst day of the year to let standards slip. Be sure that you and your team are ready.

Think about the marketing opportunity of the increased traffic

This is a fantastic opportunity to make the most of increased traffic. Think outside of the box, build your database. Think about including newsletter sign up call to action buttons around your site and promote future deals. Look at cross-sells and up-sells, promote other sale items around the site. Be memorable to your customers by creating an innovative, but easy service that they will want to come back to.

Don’t forget about security – a customer makes a decision about your site within the first 30 seconds of viewing it. Displaying card icons and security certificates clearly in the footer will gain their trust.

Don’t forget about social media

Social channels can be successfully utilised to launch marketing campaigns. We have all seen how great deals can go virtual and people love to share them if they feel they have discovered something great so play to it. Websites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram are all good platforms so think about how you can use these channels to build anticipation. The one warning is that other retailers are doing this too, so do not show your cards too soon. Your competitors may well be watching you so if you start posting early enough and give them time, they may tweak their offers having seen yours. There is a really fine line to walk here and each retailer will need to make that call. Whatever you do, be sure to make it easy for people to share your offers by including social share buttons on your posts.

The above is not an exhaustive list. There are plenty of ways that you can capitalise on Cyber Monday but it is really important that you start thinking about this as soon as you can. Diarise it for next year and make sure that it features in your annual promotional calendar. This is a great opportunity for most on-line retailers so do not miss it!