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Nik Roberts
Nik Roberts
24th Nov 2020

Is your website ready for Black Friday?

For retailers hard hit by COVID-19, Black Friday has taken on a new level of importance, with Internet industry body IMRG predicting that Black Friday sales will be between 35% and 45% higher than last year. With the opportunity to generate much-needed sales in the run up to Christmas, it has never been more important for companies to ensure they are fully prepared – both online and offline.

We have already seen some casualties – the launch of the new Sony Playstation 5 saw several major retailers' websites crash, and some were forced to introduce queuing systems. And the rush of shoppers trying to book a Christmas food delivery slot brought food retailer sites to their knees.

So how can you avoid some of the pitfalls? With a bit of preparation, it is possible to make sure your web and ecommerce strategy is match-fit to maximise the opportunity and not lose out on valuable sales.

1. Check your website speed  

In a recent study by xMatters, 43.5% of consumers said that a slow mobile app or website would cause them to end their online shopping experience.

Check your website bandwidth ahead of the day – is it fit for purpose? Take a look at your previous web traffic during your busiest periods or compare with data from last Black Friday if you have it.

Click here for more about Versantus' website health check service.

Load test your system in a ‘real’ environment - questions might include: How does the system perform under real-life conditions or when using different network providers? What happens if thousands of users want to access the software simultaneously? Consider implementing a virtual queue system so that if your website does become overwhelmed – instead of crashing completely, the situation is controlled and managed by allocating people to a virtual queue. Or talk to your website hosting company about increasing bandwidth for a short time.

You can’t predict for certain how many people will land on your site on Black Friday/Cyber Monday, but you can put some plans/testing in place for different case scenarios.

2. Optimise the user journey

Take a look at your users’ experience ahead of Black Friday/Cyber Monday – there are many small changes that can be made to make your visitors’ buying journey as easy and seamless as possible.

Consider different options for ‘signposting’ visitors when they arrive on the site – include categories on your homepage, such as ‘Shop Black Friday’ or ‘Top deals’ which group offers together and direct people to a dedicated area of your site. Signposts or stickers throughout the site, which flag products as ‘Black Friday offers’ can also help to make the process more seamless too.

Make contact information clear and easy to find and if you have a Chatbot or Live Chat, make sure this is operational, robust and visible for visitors to access and use.

3. Make sure you have the right staff/resourcing in place

Consider the staff you need to facilitate your web/e-commerce strategy – do you have support staff on hand 24/7 to resolve any technical issues in quick time? And do you have enough staff to manage your contact points - via phone, email or online chat facility.

4. Check on your security practices

Nearly half (49.4%) in a survey by xMatters said security or concerns that their personal information may be compromised would cause them to end their online shopping experience on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Take the opportunity to check in on your security policies and processes – are they robust and up-to-date? Do you have a plan in place for if a cyber attack takes place? Early alerts and a process for resolving the issue as soon as possible will ensure that the damage is limited.

It is also essential to check your GDPR practices are in place and up-to-date with the latest standards and regulations – do you have the necessary opt-ins on all areas of data capture throughout your website?

A few checks and balances prior to such a busy online period may just highlight any holes or gaps in your security policy and minimise the chance of a cyber attack.

5. Carefully plan and deploy your marketing tactics

A few careful tactics on how you manage your Black Friday marketing can help to deliver a more seamless experience for your customers, as well as a profitable one for your business.

Think about staggering your email and social media messaging so that they don’t drive customers to your website all in one go. Early Access events are an effective way of maximising your sales whilst managing the flow of visitors to your website. Some retailers have published a ‘Guide to Black Friday’ showing peak website times to try and manage visitor expectations and encourage flow to the website at quieter times.

If you have paid search advertising – check in on your campaigns and make sure you have tight controls over your keywords to avoid wasted traffic to your website - not good business sense and your website could end up clogged with visitors who are unlikely to convert.Black Friday will undoubtedly drive up bid values of keywords, so unless you want to get involved in a bun fight for the top spot and are prepared to pay for it – make sure you have your bids set appropriately in readiness!

6. Think of the future not just the day itself

With the extra influx of visitors to your website, it’s not just about ‘on the day’ conversion - make sure you make the most of them for future opportunity too. Make sure you have retargeting code embedded in your website for that all-important follow-up via Google and social media platforms – some clever tricks can be deployed around basket abandonment with targeted discounts, which can maximise your sales following the website visit.

Don’t forget email as a follow-up tool either. A carefully timed email which retargets previously viewed products or products added to the basket can be a powerful conversion tool.

Want to know more?

Versantus is a leading web design agency in Oxford. For more information about bespoke web development and our range of web design services including Drupal development, contact a member of our team today and make an enquiry. We can open a conversation about your potential project, or just call for a chat. We’ve got you covered.

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