How Can Your Small Business Prepare for Cyber Monday?
It’s common to hear people making fun of the fact that Christmas comes earlier and earlier each year. By the time October hits, stores are already selling all their holiday goodies and have decorations lined up to get everyone in the spirit. While consumers may point and laugh at the fact that Halloween hasn’t even happened yet, businesses have a reason for it.
The holiday season is the most profitable time of year for businesses and, in order to capitalize on it, many companies get ahead of the game. In fact, most brands are prepping their holiday launch in the summer months. And one of the biggest focuses these businesses keep their sights on is Cyber Monday.
Between 2009 and 2014, Cyber Monday sales more than tripled - with a total of $2.5 billion in 2014 alone. Just last year, a new record was set with sales topping at $9.4 billion. Naturally, it’s in any small business’s best interest to get in on this action. However, being as it’s already mid-October, you may think you’re too late to the party.
While it is better to begin preparing for Cyber Monday months ahead of the deadline, there are some things you can still do to garner revenue this year. Throughout this article, we’re going to offer tips for last-minute Cyber Monday preparations along with what you can do to be ahead of the game next year.
Cyber Monday is a great time to start promoting new goods or services your small business is offering. Not to mention, if you have an overhaul of products, this can be your opportunity to clean out storage while also seeing a profit.
The first step to Cyber Monday is understanding what you want to promote. Whether you have a new line of products you’re looking to advertise or are simply trying to clean your shelves, take into consideration what you’re willing to offer a solid deal on.
At the end of the day, Cyber Monday is all about the deals. Everyone shopping online is looking for the best discounts and, if you want to stand out, you need to offer something that stands out among the competition.
Ideally, you need to start planning a sale promotion. According to the U.S. Economy, 90% of retailers offer online sales on Cyber Monday, whereas 50% offer coupons of percentage-off deals. Not to mention, over one-third of businesses will offer a limited time only promotion.
Being as individuals tend to purchase from multiple retailers, about half of all companies will offer free shipping in order to further curb on a customer’s total spending. It’s worth noting that about 36% of shoppers agreed they’d even be willing to purchase more from a brand if it came with a free shipping offer.
When developing your Cyber Monday plan, even if it’s last-minute, it can help to see what your competition has done in order to make those extra sales.
Keep Track of Your Inventory
Once you know exactly what you’ll be offering and how you’ll offer these promotions to the public, it’s vital you develop a plan that can support these offers. If this is your first Cyber Monday, don’t be surprised if your sales clear your inventory quickly. Even for a small business, orders can be more than you expect.
With that said, you’ll want to order the number of products you’ll need in order to meet sales. If this is your first Cyber Monday, that can be a bit tricky as your business has no prior experience to track the previous year’s sales. If you’re in this position, you’ll have to go with your gut feeling when it comes to how much you should order and use this experience as a learning lesson for next year.
It’s important not to overhaul on products too much. Even though the holiday shopping season goes on for another month after Cyber Monday, ALL online shoppers are trying to get their goodies before December 25th. If you have an overhaul of products and can’t meet that deadline, it’s not going to look good for your business.
Take Best Buy as a prime example of this failure. In 2011, the company wasn’t properly stocked for their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. To make it all worse, they told their customers a week before Christmas that they wouldn’t make their inventory orders until after the holidays. Obviously, this made a lot of people not want to shop at Best Buy in the future.
One of the biggest faults of retailers is not tracking their inventory during this busy season. According to the 2016 State of Small Business Report, nearly half of all small businesses reported they don’t track their inventory. And out of the other half that does, 43% still use a pen and paper approach.
Both these faults leave the doors open to human error and, even worse, a loss of revenue. In fact, it’s well understood that a small business is much more likely to fail if they don’t track their inventory or they do so incorrectly.
Prep Your Website
If this is your first Cyber Monday, one aspect many newcomers overlook is the importance of prepping their website. There are a lot of problems that can unexpectedly occur - from the website crashing due to too much traffic or little bugs that get in the way of purchasing.
Beyond this, it’s important your website is easy-to-use with a clear interface for users to navigate. When it comes to Cyber Monday, most shoppers are hopping from one website to the next and seek to painlessly obtain exactly what they’re looking for. If your website puts them in a position that’s even slightly more difficult, it’s likely they’ll click off.
Not to mention, in recent years, Cyber Monday shopping has seen a huge uptick in mobile shoppers. With that said, it’s important for you to update your website so it’s mobile-friendly.
It may be beneficial to hire an IT specialist to help you prepare your website. An IT specialist will ensure your website:
is scaled-out perfectly
has no faults in the database with increased bandwidth
is able to grow and accommodate large amounts of traffic and transaction volume
It can also help to test out your website for increased traffic. Even if this is overshooting it, see how it runs with 1,000 orders coming in for one item. This will give you insight as to whether or not there are any faults or bugs within the user experience of your website.
Start Your Promotions
If you’re able to check-off everything we’ve discussed until now, you’re ready to start promoting your Cyber Monday deals. Even though November is still weeks away, you want your customers to know what you’re offering and how to obtain it.
One of the most common promotion methods is through social media apps - most notably, Facebook. It’s beneficial to know your target audience and where they spend a good chunk of their time. From there, you can schedule posts to make sure everyone is up-to-date or you can run an advertisement campaign.
It’s highly beneficial to remain active on these social media platforms up to Cyber Monday. While this means sharing pictures and the latest updates on your products, it also means interacting with customers. Chances are people are going to have questions concerning your products - it’s in their best interest to get an answer well in advance of the Cyber Monday chaos.
With everything we’ve discussed above, you’re ready for your Cyber Monday experience. If you have a staff, you’ll want to prepare them for their role in the shopping season. It can help to have meetings leading up to the big date in order to inform them of how they can prepare.
While you’re likely to see more sales than usual during this time, you may find sales don’t reach your expectations. Don’t let this get the best of you! Many businesses have had to learn the ins and outs of Cyber Monday through trial and error. If this is your first year, take it as a learning experience to better prepare for next year.
Written by: Paul James