You’ve built your online store, mapped out a marketing campaign, and planned your social media posts and emails. What could go wrong?
Ask any customer support agent. We’ve seen the chaos and can share just how blue Black Friday can be for the unprepared online retailer.
It is early enough and easy enough to learn from the mistakes of others, so read on as we share the most common pitfalls encountered each year by our support team as Black Friday and Cyber Monday strategies are executed.
Prepare for a Surge in Demand
It’s the fourth Thursday of November. Your product has been set up for months. You have tested over and over, and you know it works. What can go wrong? Segue to the holidays. You are relaxing on your couch more stuffed than the turkey. The game is on in the background, you are beginning to feel relaxed and drowsy, and you are confident in the fact that you are going to grab a share of those holiday dollars. Checking social media, the countdown to your promotion has ended and your customers are in a buying frenzy. You do a quick check on your store and confirm demand far exceeds your expectations!
Time to pop the lid on that beer? Unfortunately, if you have not planned ahead, demand can be your downfall. A surge in customers means a surge in demands on other resources. For example, if your website crashes under the strain of a digital stampede, today’s customer will happily take their credit cards elsewhere. Even a slowdown can impact conversion. Plan ahead now to have the right infrastructure in place to avoid a mismatch between traffic levels and website infrastructure capacity.
Test Your Fulfillment
Have you given thought to your fulfillment? What could be worse than underestimating demand for your product and leaving customers unable to purchase? These are sales you may never recapture. Take stock to ensure you have more than enough licenses available and a plan for what steps your support team should take if demand exceeds your expectations.
Spend some time now laying out communication protocols and processes. With a plan in place, if there is a problem, everyone knows the steps to take to get things back up and running.
Avoid Coupon Mistakes
Savvy buyers are trying to stretch their holiday budget, and often rely on coupons. You know this and are pleased to see customers are breaking down your virtual doors, coupons in hand. You navigate over to reporting, expecting to see a healthy upward arrow, only to find flat sales.
As you dig in, you realize each sale you made over the last few hours was discounted because you did not limit the coupon condition to a specific product. Again, plan ahead to avoid this disaster. Test your coupon the way a customer is going to use it.
Can customers use that coupon to purchase products that weren’t intended to be discounted? Can the coupon be used more than once or combined with other discounts? Was it set up to begin at the right time and time zone?
Have Support Ready
The game is still on and it’s halftime. You’ve checked on your store and you have managed to avoid any major disasters. But what about the individual ones? This is not the time to begin to question if you have enough support on hand for the holidays?
Buyer issues soar along with the sales. Are you prepared to support the customer who can’t pay, the one who changed their mind or who bought the wrong product? Understanding buyer issues is as critical as having a strategic plan in place to deal with them and adequate staffing to handle them.
Planning Leads to Success
In our experience, the most common issues sellers experience during Black Friday and Cyber Monday come from a lack of planning. As a result, the best advice from our team is that planning, testing, and processes are key.
With these in place, you can handle increased demand and get the most out of your Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Once in place, put on your sweatpants, turn up the television and grab a slice of pie. You’ve earned it.
Note: FastSpring is the No. 1 full-stack commerce platform for growth-stage SaaS and software companies. Learn more about how we can help you grow your business worldwide!