What to do after Black Friday (BFCM) to encourage retention

Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend is big in the retail calendar, and for good reason - in 2022, US online consumers spent over $9.2 billion just on Black Friday itself. But it isn’t just sales that are a big win for merchants.

BFCM weekend is also a great opportunity for acquiring new customers, re-engaging with your existing customers, and then retaining them. Striking that balance will set you up in the year ahead, providing you with a solid base of loyal customers who come back time and again even if there isn’t a deal to take advantage of. 

Today, let’s take a look at some easy strategies you can use to boost your post-BFCM retention strategy. 

Understanding your BFCM customers 

In order to create a solid retention strategy, you need to first get to grips with the audience shopping over Black Friday weekend - who they are, and their expectations. 

Let’s start with who that customer is. 

Black Friday weekend is great for acquiring new customers, and acquisition rates are typically higher than other times of the year. But given its proximity to the holidays, who exactly are they buying for? There’s an assumption made that many customers are shopping for gifts, but actually 39% of consumers in one survey said they planned to buy something for themselves over BFCM. So you’ll have a segment of customers who have purchased gifts, and another who purchased for themselves. It may be difficult to tell who fits into each category - those who purchased gifts may be less likely to make a second purchase before the holiday season is over. However you should still be prepared to encourage a second purchase through that post-BFCM experience.

Many of those orders will also come from customers who have already shopped with your brand before. You want to continue to give them reasons to want to order again in the future. That means taking into account what they may need to secure their repeat custom. Thankfully, much of what you can do to encourage retention after BFCM will have overlap with what will appeal to newly acquired customers also.    

The best way to encourage retention is through understanding their needs after Black Friday weekend is over. They’ll likely be aware that it’s a busy period, so they’ll want to know where their order is at every stage. They won’t want to feel like it has been swept up amongst the usual chaos of holiday orders. If they purchased a gift, they might be concerned about your returns policy, and will want reassurance of this. All of this gives you ample opportunity to satisfy their needs, build a positive brand perception, and encourage retention.

4 easy ways to encourage retention after BFCM 

#1 - Give them a great shipping & delivery experience

Once they’ve placed their order, it’s time to get to work on fostering that positive brand perception. What happens after they click “checkout” is so important to their overall view of their experience with your brand. Especially if they’re new, they won’t have any experience with your products so this is your first real opportunity to prove your value. 

Shipping and delivery are huge for customers. 85% of customers say a poor delivery experience would prevent them from ordering again, and 26% say they receive inaccurate delivery updates. Black Friday weekend happens right in the heart of the holiday shopping season, so customers will be even more aware of potential shipping issues.

Start by offering them better tracking tools. Typically, the customer will get an email with a tracking number, and be directed to the courier’s tracking tools. However with so many different couriers, all with their own experience and user interfaces, it can become confusing and even frustrating for customers. Instead, give them access to clear, accessible tracking tools that make the process simple and informative. Apps like Order Lookup make this easy - you can brand the experience making it feel more a part of your customer experience, and add notes so you can keep customers totally in the loop. 

#2 - Have a clear returns policy (and consider extending it)

Returns are huge for anyone purchasing over the BFCM and holiday season. The month with the highest returns rate, unsurprisingly, is January. And given there’s a large portion of BFCM customers shopping for gifts, they’ll likely be among those returns. They found a great deal on something they planned to give as a gift, but then it wasn’t quite right in the end. 

You need to make it clear to customers what your returns policy is. Include details of your returns policy in any order related emails, and also consider sending an extra one midway through the validity period reminding them if they need to make a return, they have x number of days remaining to do so and how to initiate. 

Most policies give customers around 30 days to return. This usually means customers are under a serious time crunch if they purchase over Black Friday weekend and give a gift at the end of December. However, we did say most policies. Over the holidays, it may be worth extending your returns policy in some way. That might be an additional 7-14 days longer, giving BFCM customers that extra bit of time. You could also consider saying that the returns period for a full refund is 30 days, but orders returned after that and within 45 days will receive store credit. Again, additional options just add a bit of flexibility and having that temporary extra window will give customers much more confidence.

#3 - Get on top of email and SMS communication 

It isn’t just order related emails that matter - you can use email and SMS to add further value to the customer experience. This is your direct line of communication to all your customers, so it makes sense to use this to give you an edge on retention. 

Think about the fact that you may see higher acquisition rates - that means new customers who may be less familiar with your products and brand. Give them the education they need to get the most out of your products. For example, an email about product care, or how-to guides. If you sell aperitifs, for instance, it may be recipes for how to use them or ideas from your community. If they purchased an item as a gift, these could be helpful to the person who received your products. As for existing customers, you can still give them valuable content. That will more likely be related to previous purchases, and how to get the most out of their latest order. 

As for using SMS, you could look at using this to promote product recommendations, a new year sale, or gather feedback. These are topics which your customers will be interested in, and can show you care about their overall experience. Keeping messaging short and simple is key, so use SMS sparingly and to grab attention.

#4 - Encourage retention with incentives and loyalty programs 

Getting that next order can be challenging, and one way to keep customers coming back is a strong loyalty program or unique incentives. Let’s start with loyalty programs. 71% of consumers say that loyalty programs are an important part of their relationships with brands. And 62% of Gen Z customers are highly influenced by loyalty programs. So, ahead of BFCM it may be time to review your loyalty program if you have one.

  • Review what perks your program currently offers
  • Analyze which perks your customers most often take advantage of, and which are frequently unused
  • Survey customers with the highest loyalty status, and ask them what could be better about your program

You can then decide if you want to tweak the program ahead of time, so it’s at its more enticing and engaging for all those newly acquired BFCM customers.

As for incentives, 45% of consumers say they’ve made up to 3 purchases from a brand in the last year due to incentives. These are a little easier to implement than an entirely new loyalty program, and can be done on a limited time basis. You should analyze any new customers incentives you’ve offered in the past:

  • What was the incentive?
  • What was the condition to receive it?
  • What was the uptake on the incentive?

You want to hit a sweet spot of a strong incentive, a condition that requires definitive action, and has high uptake. For example, a typical new customer incentive is 10% of an order if they sign up to emails. However a stronger option for BFCM customer might be a $10 gift card for their next order. You could test these incentives over BFCM, for example some of your customers receive discounts, and some receive gift cards. This will help you to determine for the future which incentives are the most effective.


Once Black Friday weekend is over, it’s time to give customers even more reason to come back in the new year. If you get that post-purchase experience right, you could set yourself with lots of newly loyal customers ready to support you.