Every year we look at what the trends and issues are for Black Friday/Cyber Monday - where will people shop? Will mobile sales increase again? Which product categories will come out on top? However there’s one thing that will always be important during BFCM - customer experience.
With different audiences and higher purchasing intent, it’s vital that your customer experience isn't just optimized but purposely designed to preemptively address common BFCM customer concerns.
Taking a customer concern focussed approach to BFCM
It’s no secret that customer expectations are high. This combined with increased competition in the ecommerce market, means that it will take more for merchants to truly stand out from the crowd during the holiday shopping season. What will set your store apart from your competitors won’t be your branding or products, but your customer experience. Before a customer has your products in their hands, you can deliver on their expectations with a focussed approach to CX that will stick in their minds. 74% of consumers say that they’re likely to make a purchase based on experience alone, and close to a third say they’d stop doing business with a brand they love after just one negative experience.
Specifically during the holidays, expectations are even higher because there is increased anxiety around ordering during Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Will the item the customer wants go out of the stock? How long will deals last? Will their order arrive on time? The answers to these questions and concerns become what these customers will use to make their judgements on your brand. This is especially important as your audience during BFCM is likely to look a little different to the rest of the year. You not only have your usual audiences that you specifically target for their interest in your product category, but also people purchasing gifts. More than 50% of US consumers surveyed by YouGov said they were planning to purchase gifts over Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
In order to satisfy all the different audiences that will flock to your store in the lead up to and during Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, it helps to take a customer concern focused approach to customer experience. Address the concerns your customers may have throughout their journey which will help to build trust and deliver a better experience. Additionally, through this approach you’ll be able to address any potential points of friction well in advance of Black Friday, saving from losing sales and your team time responding to easily answered queries.
Prior to Black Friday/Cyber Monday, shoppers are researching and planning what they want to purchase. During this phase, they’re still discovering brands - in fact fewer than 2 in 10 shoppers know which brands they plan to purchase from for products they’re planning to buy.
Their concerns then will be:
- Where to find the best deals
- The best brands to purchase from
- Where to find your brand’s deals
What deals you’ll be running
The first two concerns aren’t brand specific, these are earlier in the discovery part of their journey. The latter two concerns are in the investigation and research part of the customer journey - they know your brand, now they need to know more about BFCM specifically. All of these concerns centre on information.
How to address these concerns
Whether a customer is new to your brand or has made a few purchases, reviews are a huge driving factor in purchasing decisions. 89% of consumers say they read reviews before making a purchase, and 60% say they do further research even if a product has 5 stars. Especially if they’re discovering your brand for the first time, they’ll want to know that your products are high quality, and your customer service is excellent. Display reviews prominently throughout your site, paying particular attention to key landing pages and content related to Black Friday i.e. product pages, catalog pages, any BFCM specific landing pages, homepage.
Homesick display the star rating for products at the top of the product page, with detailed reviews further down including photos so customers can see exactly what to expect.
You want to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to find the great deals and promotions you’re running for BFCM weekend. The best way to do this is with a Black Friday landing page.
You should include the following:
- When deals go live, and when they’ll expire.
- Which products or product categories are included in promotions.
- A small FAQ section about shipping, deals, and other queries your team typically receives around Black Friday weekend.
- Bonus incentive for those who sign up for email/SMS.
The last point is important, as you’ll be able to gather email addresses from engaged customers who you can sort into a “interested in deals/promotions” segment. You can then test with future deals to see which promotions this audience responds to, allowing you to create smarter sales with a higher chance of conversions.
Gift guides and other seasonal content
There is a wide mix of customer audiences on BFCM weekend, some will be your usual audience looking for deals but some will be looking for gifts for friends and family. In these instances, the customer is more likely to have less knowledge about your products and industry, so will be looking for some guidance as to what they should buy. That’s where gift guides become invaluable, as they’re not only excellent for guidance on your products but also shareable. Someone who knows they’re looking for gifts for a specific person can share that guide with them, which will help them decide what to purchase.
Try to target these guides toward this audience, with titles such as “Best gifts for…” and “What to buy for…”. Consider what someone with no knowledge of your brand and products would want to know when writing, and be sure to include details of any deals and promotions you’ll be running related to those products for BFCM.
Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend can be busy, to say the least, both for your team and your customers. They want to snap up the best deals as soon as possible, and not miss out on their opportunity to get something they really want at a bargain price.
Their primary concerns will be:
- Fast site speed
- Easy checkout process
- Quick customer service
Many of their concerns centre around speed and efficiency. A slow loading site means they might miss out. Lengthy checkout processes mean they lose valuable time they could spend on other items they want to buy. Delayed customer service responses mean that they might simply go to a competitor with more readily available information. In one survey, 78% of consumers said they’ve backed out of a purchase due to poor customer service. Other research suggests that 90% of customers say receiving an immediate response is important when they have a query, with 60% defining “immediate” as 10 minutes or less. Therefore you want to implement solutions that will maximize speed, thereby reducing the opportunity for the customer to take their business elsewhere.
How to address these concerns
It’s worth noting that you’ll need to address these concerns ahead of BFCM weekend, so as to fully prepare your site for shoppers. A little forward planning will go a long way once your promotions are live and people are browsing your store.
Optimize site speed
On Black Friday, speed is everything. Customers don’t want to miss out on a deal, and slow loading sites may make them look elsewhere to ensure they get the items they really want. 25% of users say they abandon a site if it takes more than 4 seconds to load, and 46% won’t revisit a poorly performing site. So not only can speed impact BFCM weekend, they can have long term implications for future sales.
Optimize your site speed ahead of Black Friday so customers can access your site quick and get to shopping. Some easy speed optimizations include:
- Minimize your image file sizes
- Remove any unused and unnecessary apps from your Shopify store
- Cache static HTML
- Remove any large elements from key pages e.g. having more than one hero image on your homepage
The faster your site is, the less chance there is for a customer to give up and leave for a competitor.
Self-serve and automated customer service
Customers don’t like waiting for customer service, and especially not when there’s a tempting deal on the line. [insert stat]. If your store doesn’t offer customer service responses over the weekend, or your team will be busy with other tasks over BFCM weekend, then they may not be able to provide a timely response to enquiries. By the time they do, the customer will likely already placed an order elsewhere. Therefore you want to make sure they have as much access to easy, fast customer service as possible.
The best way to achieve this is through self-service and automated options - 69% of consumers say they prefer to first attempt to resolve an issue themselves before contacting customer service.
- Create a BFCM specific FAQ section with topics related to fulfillment, shipping, and any common product questions
- Make it easy to search your FAQ
- Use a customer service bot to automate some responses with your most common BFCM and product enquiries
- Make it clear on all platforms what the timeline is for a response from your team
Offer quick checkout options
Your site is fast, customers have all the information they need, and now it’s time for them to checkout. If speed and efficiency are the primary concerns for customers during BFCM, then it’s vital that you remove as much friction in the buying process as possible. An easy way to do this is by offering quick checkout options, such as Shop Pay or Paypal, that will reduce the number of steps to checking out and ensure customers get the deals they’re looking for.
When the weekend is over and the dust has settled, the real challenge begins - fulfillment and logistics. Many merchants will be more overwhelmed than usual when it comes to fulfilling orders, and the knock-on effect of this falls onto the customer. Especially around the holidays, they want to know that their order is on its way and what they can do if they have an issue.
Their concerns now are:
- When will their order ship
- How long will it take
- Are there any delays in fulfilling their order
- Will their order arrive in time for the holidays
All their concerns will focus on their order dispatching and arriving. In order to maximize your chances of retaining that customer and encouraging a future order, you’ll need to manage their expectations and over-deliver on order information.
How to address these concerns
BFCM specific email flows
Post-BFCM, your team will be extremely busy picking, packing, and shipping orders. Therefore fulfillment times may be slower than usual, and it’s important to set customer expectations from the moment they place their order to avoid any frustration. Create BFCM specific flows for:
- Transactional emails - Add information to transactional emails for orders placed over BFCM weekend and in the week afterwards. Let customers know how long fulfillment will take, expected shipment dates, and if there are any delays with couriers.
- Additional information - Send extra emails throughout fulfillment with helpful information and links, for example your FAQ and any updates about shipment dates.
- Returns information - Make it easy for customers to understand your returns process by sending them details of how it works ahead of their order arriving.
- Customer support - Send emails specifically detailing how to get in touch with your customer support team. Let them know when your team is available, and current response timelines.
This will ensure the customer is kept informed throughout the process, as well as giving them additional information to demonstrate their satisfaction is a priority for your store.
Real-time order tracking
Another way to help manage expectations around fulfillment is by implementing a real-time order tracking. Giving customers access to their order’s progress as it happens will save them stress, and save your support team’s time on responding to enquiries related to order status. Rather than a customer sending a support ticket, your team chasing the courier, and then getting back to the customer, they can just check in themselves and see exactly what’s happening with their delivery.
Using an app like Order Lookup will give your customers the ability to track their order in real-time, as well as see any notes your team has added to the order with additional information.
Preparing for Black Friday/Cyber Monday isn’t just about having the best deals and deepest discounts - the experience a customer has matters just as much. Addressing concerns ahead of Black Friday will allow your store to consider what your customers actually need before they make a purchase and speak to not just your usual target audience, but to those who will be new to your store and products as well.