The Black Friday-Cyber Monday holiday shopping window is the biggest sales period of the whole year, with about $188 billion spent during this period in 2020. 

Shoppers are eager to find both gifts for loved ones, and deals for themselves – but you’ll have no shortage of competition for their business. 

If you want to make the most of the BFCM shopping period, it’s crucial to start preparing early. (Meaning, now.)

Never fear: We’ve put together a BFCM merchant checklist to ensure that you’re ready to hit the ground running when holiday shopping season rolls around.

Just follow these steps, and you’ll see your BFCM sales soar – and turn into recurring revenue to help you grow, year after year.

  1. Make sure you’re using a scalable ecommerce platform
    If you’re new to ecommerce, you might have started out with your own website or a bare-bones ecommerce platform. But before BFCM rolls around, make sure that you’re using a proven solution that won’t crash if you encounter heavy traffic – BFCM shopping can result in thousands of prospective customers at once, and you’ll lose them all if your site crashes. Make sure that you’re using a scalable, cloud-based solution like Shopify, that won’t buckle under pressure.

  2. Get your ad campaigns ready to go
    There are so many ways to reach shoppers today – email campaigns, digital advertising, SMS marketing, direct mail, and social media marketing, just to name a few. Your preferred channels will vary, based on your audience. Now’s the time to identify the best ways to reach them, and prepare your ad creative on each channel you intend to use, with a variety of promotions to appeal to different types of buyers. 

  3. Stock up on inventory
    When customers are shopping during the BFCM window, they’re not going to be satisfied if it turns out their products are on backorder. Make sure to source all of your products well in advance, so that you won’t be in danger of running out of popular products – you’ll need to be prepared to meet higher than usual demand.

  4. Use the right fulfillment solution
    If you’ve been handling fulfillment in-house, are you prepared for much higher order volume? It could be a good time to consider switching to a third-party fulfillment solution, or 3PL. 3PLs can help you scale to meet high demand by managing your inventory from their own warehouses, and handling shipping and returns. Because 3PLs often store products across multiple warehouse locations, they can also help you ship your products faster with more efficient routing, resulting in higher customer satisfaction.

  5. Reconnect with past customers
    When planning your BFCM push, don’t forget about your existing customers! Make sure to reach out to them with personalized communication to let them know when you’ll be announcing your upcoming promotions, and send them category-specific deals as you announce them, based on the products they’ve purchased in the past. 

  6. Ramp up your customer support
    When you’re dealing with an influx of new customers, you’ll also have a bunch of new support inquiries – and you don’t want to leave customers waiting on hold for hours while your team works through their queue. Instead, supplement live support with chatbots that can automatically respond to common questions, such as the status of an order or the inventory status of a product. The chatbot can also provide a list of common questions with links to a resource center, so that customers can self-service many of their requests, reserving your live agents for more specialized needs.

  7. Make returns easy
    Once customers have purchased their items, don’t neglect the post-purchase experience. Customers will need to make returns for multiple reasons, and providing a great returns experience can be the difference between churn and building a loyal customer relationship. Develop a simple returns policy that customers can understand, with a generous return window. Using a platform like Loop to manage the process ensures that customers can easily initiate their own returns without waiting for support. The physical return process should be easy, too: Customers should have the option to either print a return label or to drop off the item at a nearby drop-off location, where it can be packaged and shipped on their behalf.

  8. Encourage exchanges
    When customers make a return, they have two options: They can request a refund, or they can exchange for store credit or another product. By incentivizing customers to choose an exchange or credit option, you’re able to prevent churn and preserve both the revenue from the transaction, and the customer relationship as a whole. Loop facilitates seamless product exchanges directly from its dashboard, and you can even sweeten the deal by offering bonus credit for customers who choose an exchange over a refund. 

  9. Learn from your data – and optimize for the future
    After you make it through 2022’s BFCM, you’ll have plenty of data to show for it. Which products were most popular? Which advertising channels netted the highest ROI? What types of support requests came in most often? What was your return rate, and which products were most frequently returned? Pay close attention to your data trends, and use them to inform next year’s strategy, helping you determine where it makes the most sense to invest your resources. By optimizing your strategy, you’ll be able to turn a great BFCM into an even better one the following year. 

If you’re ready to take your BFCM strategy to the next level, contact us today.