Black Friday & Cyber Monday are almost here; is your eCommerce business ready for the busiest days of the year?

Aran Reeks
By Aran Reeks
23 Oct 2014

Black Friday and Cyber Monday used to be something that happened in America. But stats from 2013 prove that UK online retailers that don’t appreciate the significance of these dates will be missing out. 

And, of course, you can’t ignore how around the end of November people’s thoughts start to turn seriously to Christmas shopping. Smart and successful eCommerce businesses will already be making preparations for how to make the most of the opportunity.

So when are they this year?


Black Friday: Friday, 28th November 2014            Cyber Monday: Monday, 1st December 2014

For online retailers it’s the most critical time of the year. In the USA Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday is the following Monday. Historically the Friday was always a big shopping day, even before the internet. The story goes that the black bit refers to the day when retailers finally move into profitable trading for the year.

So heres a round-up of the things you need to be doing to create your own Black Friday effect and maximise the sales from your eCommerce site.

American retailers capitalise through online promotions, Black Friday and Cyber Monday special deals, email and social media campaigns and ‘the whole nine yards’, as they would probably say.

American online retailers (and a significant and growing number of UK ones) capitalise through online promotions, Black Friday and Cyber Monday special deals, email and social media campaigns and ‘the whole nine yards’, as they would probably

  1. 20 to 40 percent of yearly sales for small to mid-sized eTailers will take place within the last two months of the year (National Retail Federation)
  2. Cyber Monday online sales increased a massive 30% between 2011 and 2012 (IBM)
  3. Nearly half of consumers plan to buy holiday gifts online this year (Google)
  4. Email is the top holiday marketing channel for 55% of brands (Experian)
  5. 66% of 2012 Black Friday purchases were the result of a social media interaction (FastCompany)

The numbers are huge

The ‘Black Friday’ effect is impressive, with US sales passing $1 billion in the first time in 2012 and with 57.3 million Americans shopping online on that day.

2013 was arguably the first time that Black Friday and Cyber Monday had a major impact in the UK. We might not have Thanksgiving, but we sure do like a bargain! Amazon UK clocked up 4 million sales on Black Friday and 4.1 million on Cyber Monday.

The clear lesson for all retailers is how much can be achieved when you have concerted and coordinated strategies to maximise traffic and conversions, particularly at times of the year when people are in the mood for shopping. 

It's increasingly likely that shoppers in the UK will be searching specifically for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. 

And remember that according to IMRG, well over a quarter of Christmas shopping was done online last year compared with only 1% three years earlier.

So here’s a round-up of the things you need to be doing to create your own Black Friday effect and maximise the sales from your eCommerce site:

1.) Make the most of emailemail-marketing

All year, your eCommerce site will have been collecting email details from people who bought things from you and those who were at least interested enough to start a shopping cart. I can’t think of a better place to start targeting your Christmas, Black Friday (or whatever you want to call them) offers. 

I’m not talking about indiscriminately blasting offers at your entire mailing list but a more considered and targeted approach so that people receive the offers they’re most likely to be interested in. Remember you might want to send marketing emails to these people during next year too, so don’t let Black Friday signify the day they blacklist you for spam email. 

Read more about using email marketing effectively here

2.) Get serious about remarketing


Remember too, that people will be doing a lot of browsing on different stores. Quite likely, they’ll be putting things into shopping carts to compare prices and features. It’s not difficult to lose track of what sites you’ve been on and what offers you saw where.

We see so often how well executed remarketing activities using abandoned cart emails or dynamic remarketing can retrieve ‘lost’ sales and turn browsing into business. This is one time of year when people are much more likely to be browsing with a purpose and with a real intent to make a purchase. Make the most of this with abandoned cart emails and dynamic remarketing via the Google Display Network.

3.) Capitalise on social


Naturally, you won’t want to rely on just email to get your message out. The run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday is also a peak period for social media activity. There are so many opportunities to capitalise on the work you’ve been doing all year to create a social media following. And so many opportunities too to get social networks to take on some of your marketing effort cost-effectively or even for free!

Promoted posts, Facebook Ads or just using your Twitter feed to highlight offers and encourage people to tell the world about the great deal they just received from you. The opportunities are only limited by your powers of imagination. Plan how you are going to increase and target your social media activity and how you can make it easier for people to share information about your products and offers.

Make sure to check out our recent post on empowering your eCommerce offering with the use of social media here.

4.) Think about multi-channel


Let’s face it, in the run up to Christmas shoppers are under pressure; so many presents to buy and so little time. Who can blame them if they decide to go to one of the big eCommerce stores like Amazon or to do the bulk of their shopping? And this is, of course, what many choose to do. So if you haven’t done it before this could be a good time to think about multi-channel sales.

And if a customer finds your business for the first time through the site of a major online retailer, you have a new relationship you can nurture next year.

5.) Remember the basicsexperience

In the flurry of activity there’s a danger of overlooking a basic truth of all eCommerce - success and profitable business come from giving your customers a great experience.

People will still care about delivery terms and costs and they still want help and support with their purchases. They will want to know what your returns policy is and how this will work over the Christmas period. Now could be a good time to ask some critical questions about whether you are giving people the best experience possible in these areas. 

After all, a customer should be for life, not just for Christmas.