How to Handle the Demands of Cyber Monday Site Traffic
It’s the whisper on every store owner’s lips, and the shout rising from every eager shopaholic across the country: the Black Friday weekend is coming. November 23rd is fast approaching, with Cyber Monday hot on its heels.
Last year consumers spent $19 billion over the Black Friday weekend. And on Cyber Monday alone online spending reached a record breaking $6.59 billion.
But this golden opportunity also comes with its own challenges. Massive surges in site traffic can have your store crashing, and sold out stock can see disappointed customers turning to your competitors. It can make – or break – any online store.
Those who rise to meet demand can reap the benefits of Black Friday and Cyber Monday for the rest of the year. Others risk losing out not just for the weekend but also on potential long-term customers.
You’ve already heard about all the best ways to survive booming traffic and how to keep your head above the water of stock sell-outs. Abandoned cart recovery, mobile responsive sites, and a top notch social media presence are all vital for survival.
So now it’s time to go the extra mile. How do you stop your site from crashing? How can you turn one-time customers into loyal buyers? What’s the best way to optimize your time? This is the year to not just cope, but to thrive.
Cyber Monday is almost here, but there’s still time to prepare your online store and pull ahead of the competition. Stand out from the overcrowded marketplace by following some of these useful tips. Get smart. Get creative. Get selling.
Automation — Work Smart, Not Hard
When time is money you don’t want to waste a single second. Especially when you only have one weekend to give your customers everything you can.
There’s a lot that goes into running an online store. From perfecting your design, updating social media, managing shipping, providing customer support, and tracking stock levels, it’s a full-on job. Have you ever wished for an extra pair of hands?
This is where automation comes in. You’re probably already familiar with automation tools like Hootsuite. These can schedule and release social posts for you across different platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.
But did you know there are tools to make the everyday tasks of running your e-commerce business easier too?
The best ecommerce platforms on the market today offer automation tools to reduce your workload. These can automate tasks like releasing new products and sales campaigns, setting up free shipping over a certain sales amount, and even offering gifts to accompany purchases.
The Shopify Plus automation app Launchpad can do all of this and more, saving you time, headaches and, most importantly, money. Every minute you save by preparing in advance is extra time for sales.
And while we’re on the topic of sales… Regularly releasing new products during the Black Friday weekend can massively boost your bottom line. By using automation you can pre-load product releases, sales campaigns, and more.
Another big stress is stock levels. Rather than sweating over your inventory and manually marking stock sold out or running low, get a tool like Flow to do it for you.
It automatically changes labels to ‘low stock’ or ‘no stock’ according to inventory levels. This notifies your marketing team to pause ad campaigns on low stock products, and hides sold out products from your store.
This saves you the repetition of these tasks and reduces complaints from customers who are shopping faster than you can mark products “sold out”. Speaking of customer interaction, there are automated tools to help with that too.
Chatbots are a great way of engaging with customers without hiring a hundred-strong team of support agents. They provide the instant connection customers love, without the time and effort you hate. People love having the option of a chat feature – a survey of American online consumers showed 68% of consumers engage in live chat.
And offering customer support you can even sell using an automated bot. Consumers said they’re willing to spend over $400 through a chatbot – that’s not a market to miss out on!
A popular example of chatbot software is Kik Bot Shop, where you can easily create your own bot. Brands such as Sephora and H&M are big fans.
A Kik Bot can use games based around products to engage with customers, create personalized recommendations and offer advice. Shoppers can complete their purchases without ever leaving the chat. It’s no wonder these big brands are making the most of it!
By using automated services to manage products and engage customers through chatbots, you can maximise your sales this Black Friday weekend. Save time, increase efficiency, and set yourself up for success in the long run too.
Feedback — The Art of Giving People What They Want
With more people likely to be buying from your store than ever before, Cyber Monday presents an unmissable opportunity. Not just to make money, but to build amazing customer relationships.
So don’t limit your relationship with customers to the checkout page. You’ve already set up the engagement before purchase using the chatbot. Why not take it one step further and make a lasting impression?
By sending personalized confirmation emails or thank you messages, you both promote your brand, and make the customer feel really valued. Not only that; it’s the perfect chance to ask for feedback.
This may not seem like the biggest goldmine out there. But dissatisfied customers staying silent is a real and present danger to your business. Research shows that only 4% of unhappy customers will complain. But 51% of customers will never do business with a company again after just one negative experience.
So what you don’t know really could have a massive impact.
But how do you get this feedback? Why not offer discounts or prizes as a reward? You can use live chat to encourage responses too.
As your site grows, leverage all that extra traffic to get a real sense of how customers feel about your business. It’s the best way to make sure you’re growing in the right direction – and that your customers will follow you as you get bigger.
Host Like a Pro
It’s one of the best and most problematic parts of the ‘Black Friday Cyber Monday’ weekend. With customers flooding to your website, the boost in traffic can put a massive strain on your hosting.
If you don’t have enough bandwidth your store can crash when you experience high volumes of visitors to your site. Most people wait three seconds for a page to load before giving up. That could mean your competitors will get those sales over you.
Last year more sites prepared in advance, resulting in fewer crashes. But some major sites still went down, including Ted Baker and GAME. Site crashes are totally avoidable. By starting deals earlier and sorting your hosting out in advance you can avoid the stress – and embarrassment – of an unresponsive website.
This definitely isn’t the most exciting part of running an online business. But hosting is the essential rock your online store is built on. It remains unseen and often unappreciated, but if cracks start to appear under the weight of all your traffic, that can have disastrous effects. If those hosting foundations aren’t strong enough, your business could come tumbling down.
Be prepared. And be optimistic. Expect hoards of visitors and upgrade your hosting plan to handle the increase. It’s definitely worth paying the extra money. You risk losing a lot more in missed sales if your website breaks down because of a limited hosting plan.
There are tons of hosting options out there. The best hosting provider for your business will depend on your budget, and your site’s individual needs. It’s best to go for something scalable and flexible which can adapt to the needs of your e-commerce site.
If you’re on a Shared hosting plan for example, then you’re sharing your bandwidth with other sites. So if one has a massive surge in traffic, there’s less room for the rest of you and your site is more likely to crash.
It’s sensible to look at hosting plans such as Cloud, VPS, and Dedicated hosting. These are more advanced hosting plans. You’ll get more bandwidth, more support, more customization.
Once you’ve got your solid hosting foundation in place, you’ll be ready to get selling…
Preparation for the Black Friday weekend seems endless. Making sure you’ve got abandoned cart recovery emails set up, spreading your presence on social media, getting your website 100% mobile ready, the list goes on and on.
An opportunity like the Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend is too good to let slip by. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Let automated tools and bots carry a part of the load for you. And get creative with how you use them!
Make the most of your chance to engage with customers too. Don’t get lost in the numbers – personalize, gather feedback, and don’t let your customer’s journey end at the checkout. You know you’ve got what they want – make them want to come back for more.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming. With these tips you’ll not only smash this weekend, but the whole rest of the year!