Prepare Your Small Business for Cyber Monday

Black Friday gets quite a lot of attention as the biggest retail day of the year. But believe it or not, Cyber Monday now surpasses Black Friday as one of the biggest retail days of the year. In 2016, the National Retail Federation reported that 108.5 million customers made purchases electronically over the Thanksgiving period – around 10 million more than made purchases at brick-and-mortar stores. Last year’s Cyber Monday, consumers had spent a staggering $540 million by just 10:00 a.m. In total, the day brought in $345 billion in sales, making it the biggest day in history for ecommerce.

Cyber Monday 2017 might still be a few months off, but it is important for retailers – particularly small businesses – to begin preparing in order ensure they can fully capitalize on the biggest day for ecommerce in the year. Wondering how small businesses can get ready for Cyber Monday? Here is what you should know when it comes to getting things ready.

Figure Out Your Sales and Promotions

The first thing to do when it comes to preparing your small business for Cyber Monday is to figure out what sales and promotions you will be offering. Remember, Cyber Monday is all about great ecommerce deals, so you want to make sure you are offering great deals on the right products in order to be competitive.

The key here is to do some research to figure out how to leverage different discounts and promotions in order to drive sales. What are your most popular items? How steep of a discount do you need to offer to increase purchasing? Can you offer different kinds of promotions and discounts in combination to increase the value of a deal? Understanding the answers to these types of questions will help ensure a successful Cyber Monday. 

You might also want to think about throwing in free shipping. About half of all online retailers offer free shipping on Cyber Monday, and about one-third of customers report that free shipping makes them more likely to make a purchase.

Make Sure You Stock Up on Inventory  

Always make sure you have enough inventory in your stock to support any offers you make on Cyber Monday. If you wildly oversell a particular product but don’t have enough in stock to fulfill all of the orders, you will have disappointed your holiday shoppers.

Back in 2011, Best Buy offered several lucrative deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday but failed to stock up on a sufficient quantity of inventory to support the orders. To make matters even worse, the company failed to alert customers that their orders wouldn’t be fulfilled in time for the holiday season until the week before Christmas. Needless to say, the customers were far from thrilled. This type of problem is far more common than one might think: a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers actually found that mismanagement of inventory was among the biggest problems retailers face during the holiday season.

To ensure you have enough inventory to support Cyber Monday deals, you will need to make sure that you have an inventory tracking system in place. By using data from your inventory tracking system, you should hopefully be able to more accurately estimate what you will need for your holiday inventory and stack up accordingly. For small businesses, this can be a particular challenge. Research shows that around half of all small businesses in the US don’t actually track their inventory, and roughly 2 out of 5 still have pen and paper stacking systems in place. If your tracking system needs work before Cyber Monday, now is the time to get cracking on making those improvements.

Get Your Website Up to Par

Businesses need to make sure their websites are in tip-top shape before the Cyber Monday madness. Of course, you want to make sure that your site is visually compelling and easy to navigate so that customers can easily find what they’re looking forever. However, a key priority should also be working to ensure that your website can handle the extra influx of traffic. A crash could spell catastrophe for your sales. Last year, for example, Old Navy’s website continuously crashed throughout the day, resulting in frustration for consumers and lost sales. A number of other major brands – including QVC, Walmart, and Newegg – also reportedly had problems with their websites on Cyber Monday last year, largely as a result of server overload due to significant spikes in traffic.

“Consumers faced a variety of technical problems on Black Friday (in 2016),” Tom Popomaronis explained in Forbes. “The Gap, Inc. family (Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athletica) was offering a massive 50% off site-wide deal fell victim to the same fate. Other retailers, such as Williams-Sonoma, saw a significant decrease in their page load time – not a great occurrence when buyers are in a hurry to empty their online carts and get on to the next sale. Regardless of the reason for these issues, the problems likely cost retailers millions of dollars in sales. And then there’s customer frustration to consider. Buyers themselves pointed out that businesses know well ahead of time that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are big days and that they shouldn’t offer deals if they’re not prepared.” These kinds of issues cost retailers millions, if not billions, in lost revenue collectively.

Take steps now to ensure your website is in prime condition for Cyber Monday. If needed, get extra support from a web developer to ensure it can handle the higher volumes of ecommerce. Now is the time to make any necessary adjustment to your infrastructure to prevent any load issues.

The bottom line? If businesses want to set themselves up for a successful Cyber Monday that will shatter ecommerce sales records, the time to start preparing is now. From getting your inventory tracking system set up to ensuring your website is in good shape, the sooner you are prepared, the better. Don’t wait until the week before to start your planning. Contact 10twelve to learn how to make the most of cyber monday for your small business.