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Black Friday spending reached $9.03 billion in 2020, according to Adobe. In 2022, that number is expected to climb as high as $235.86 billion in eCommerce sales.
Black Friday marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Retailers sell highly discounted products through sales that range anywhere from a single day to the entire month of November.
Started by US department stores wanting to take advantage of shoppers with post-Thanksgiving free time, Black Friday sales now exist globally, both in physical stores and online.
This year, Black Friday falls on 25 November. If you’re in the eCommerce industry, you need to start planning for it now (if you haven’t already).
Your online store could see massive spikes in traffic from consumers eager to take advantage of special offers and get their gift shopping done before the December rush.
This sounds like great news, and it is. However, it’s important to consider whether or not your website can handle a massive influx of traffic.
With so many online retailers to choose from, consumers are unlikely to hang around on websites that crash, take too long to load or have a complicated checkout process.
It’s also important to look beyond Black Friday – if you’re attracting new customers, you should have a strategy in place to make them want to be returning customers.
Not sure where to start? We’ve put together a checklist of everything you need to consider so you can get your website ready for Black Friday:
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Although site speed is important all year round, it becomes especially crucial at high-traffic times of the year when more visitors may lead to slower-than-average loading times.
A 2021 survey found that 90% of consumers will leave a site that loads too slowly, and more than half will turn to a competitor’s website instead. Having a site that loads fast also means it will perform better in search engine rankings, helping shoppers see your page before your competitors’.
The good news is you can stay ahead with some preparation. Whether you’re working with an agency, have an in-house web team, or are planning some DIY fixes, there are straightforward ways to check and improve site speed and performance:
There are plenty of tools out available that instantly provide site speed data, such as Pingdom and PageSpeed Insights. These tools will tell you how fast your site loads and how well it performs in certain areas.
A CDN is a set of dedicated data servers in different geographic locations that work together and enable internet content to load faster. Not only will a CDN improve your site speed, it may also help protect your site against certain types of cyber attacks.
Although a CDN will optimise your files for you, it’s still good practice to upload files in smaller sizes and formats. Photoshop has a ‘Save for Web’ function that optimises images for web browsers, and there are plenty of free tools out there as well, such as Squoosh and ImageOptim.
If your site is hosted on a shared server it may take longer to load, especially if other sites on the same server are experiencing traffic spikes as well. You could opt for a virtual private server (VPS), or switch to a different hosting platform.
Kinsta is a popular option with many of our clients. Not only is it excellent for speed and performance, but they offer some of the best customer service, as well as green hosting.
During the Black Friday period, most eCommerce sites will receive a higher than average number of visits.
We’ve already covered how important choosing the right host is for site speed, but you should also choose a host you can rely on to hold up your site during peak shopping occasions, considering scalability.
Will your site scale in line with your business needs? What your site needs right now may be different to what it needs in the future.
We work exclusively with WordPress and its eCommerce extension, WooCommerce:
For high-volume, enterprise-level websites that require more complex functionalities and extra layers of security, the gold-standard choice is WordPress VIP.
WooCommerce is a great option for online stores that want a site that can grow with their business. It offers a range of plugins with different functionalities that can be added, removed or swapped out depending on your business needs, or it can be extended by developers.
WooCommerce has the capacity to support high-volume merchants that require extra customisation and advanced features.
We’re officially recognised as a WordPress VIP Silver Agency partner and endorsed by WooCommerce as a WooExpert. Get in touch to find out how we can make your site work harder for you.
In order to make the most of Black Friday traffic, it’s important to explore the mindset of these shoppers. According to figures from 2021:
These figures suggest that Black Friday shoppers view the act of online shopping as more of a leisure activity than an administrative task. While some may be seeking out a particular type of product, others may be searching more broadly for deals that catch their eye.
When optimising your site for Black Friday, it should cater to both types of consumer and provide an experience that is intuitive, logical and seamless. A key part of this is ensuring you offer a consistent experience across all channels.
Consumers are increasingly switching between two or more channels when interacting with brands, and expect their details and preferences to be remembered across each one.
They also want to be able to complete transactions on mobile devices, or through social media platforms.
Other aspects to consider to make it as easy as possible for customers to search for and discover the products they want:
Black Friday shoppers are less likely to be shopping with a particular goal in mind and therefore will be more open to suggestions and recommendations. In digital terms, this could look like:
Product bundles can be useful to customers shopping for gifts, especially when they aren’t certain of the gift recipient’s preferences.
This was a key consideration for our client, Elizabeth Shaw, a luxury chocolate brand, that wanted to improve the customer experience on their website.
We provided Elizabeth Shaw with an online solution that streamlined the checkout process and implemented opportunities to sell bundles and seasonal offers across their site.
This had a positive impact on sales, with Elizabeth Shaw’s average order value increasing by 20% following our initial site updates.
Another key priority was reducing the number of clicks required to complete a purchase. We also improved their site’s page load speed by 49%, which had a positive impact on their conversion rates.
Having a website that’s accessible – that is, provides ways for users with impairments to access content – is no longer optional in 2022.
Regulations and expectations around accessibility are becoming more commonplace across the eCommerce industry. In practical terms, this can look like:
Improving your site’s accessibility doesn’t just have benefits for customers with disabilities.
For example, having transcripts available for videos ensures users who cannot listen to the audio in the moment they’re browsing your site can still engage with the content and receive the information.
There are several ways to check your site’s accessibility. We highly recommend hiring a digital agency who can support you with website accessibility, starting with an audit referring to W3C Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), ADA, and Section 508 accessibility errors.
Concerned about your website’s accessibility? Contact us request an audit.
When vetting the credentials of a potential partner, it’s helpful to bring it up as a key priority for your business. There are also browser extensions such as WAVE, IBM Equal Access Accessibility Checker, and Deque.
Consumers shopping for themselves may be in less of a rush to complete a purchase, but those shopping for gifts may be short on time in between holiday celebrations.
Having a checkout process that loads fast and stays online during busy periods is just the first step.
According to a 2021 Baymard study, 19% of abandoned shopping carts occur because the delivery time advertised is too slow.
In order to really take advantage of the extra traffic coming your way, you need to simplify the process as much as possible without compromising on function.
A few quick fixes to consider are:
You’ve optimised your site, but what’s next? The final step in making sure your business is Black Friday-ready is making a plan to turn those new customers into repeat customers.
Offering heavy discounts on a one-off basis may discourage customers from future purchase if they feel that your brand’s offerings outside of sale times are out of their price range.
Other options you can consider as an alternative (or complement) to discounts are:
Another important factor to consider is the post-purchase experience. This includes shipping, tracking, returns and after-sale support.
Providing visibility over every step of the delivery, as well as a generous returns policy and customer support on multiple channels will all contribute to a lasting, positive impression of your brand.
The front end of your website may be the part that your customers see and interact with, but that doesn’t mean the back end isn’t an equally important part of the equation.
If your site is connected to a fulfilment centre, you need to make sure that these two systems are talking to each other effectively. Products being out of stock or appearing in stock when they aren’t can be a frustrating and off-putting experience for a customer.
If you have third-party suppliers fulfilling your orders, it’s a good idea to check with them ahead of time if they have the capacity for a higher-than-average volume of orders.
You can use historic sales data and shipping trends to anticipate where you’re likely to receive the most sales and plan for inventory to be in warehouses close to these locations.
Your choice of third-party provider is important, as they will be a customer’s final point of contact in the journey. Even if they’re separate from your company, customers will still associate them with your brand.
No matter how much effort you put into your website and your inventory, shipping delays or unclear tracking can leave a lasting impression on a customer.
For a fulfilment provider you can trust, we recommend Huboo. Not only are they experienced with eCommerce orders, but their systems integrate seamlessly with most eCommerce platforms.
It’s never too late to look to the future. Contact our team to find out how we can set up your online store for long-term success.
When preparing your website for Black Friday, it’s important to ask the following questions:
Businesses that follow the above checklist and start preparing ahead of time are the ones most likely to see lasting returns long after the Black Friday sales end.
Although this checklist refers to Black Friday, all the basic principles outlined apply to year-round eCommerce sales. The work doesn’t stop after the holiday period is over, and having a digital partner that recognises this is key to your business’s success.
At Atomic Smash, we believe in building long-term relationships with our clients that take into account changing business needs.
We will keep working with you to optimise your site and ensure it is fast, accessible and does everything you need to meet your business goals.
We believe in working with our clients to grow their businesses long-term. Contact us to find out how we can help you get your site Black Friday-ready.
Co-founder & Managing Director
Monday 3rd October 2022
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