We’re gearing up for the biggest shopping season of the year – Black Friday-Cyber Monday – when Shopify merchants collectively made $6.3 billion in sales last year. 

But while some merchants win big during the holiday shopping rush, others miss out on sales or struggle to deliver a satisfying customer experience due to poor planning.

In this round-up, we’ve asked 10 ecommerce merchants and marketing experts around the world for their best tips on making the most of BFCM. And the biggest mistakes they’ve made.

Use their advice to optimize your holiday promotions and ensure your best shopping season yet.

Make sure that all your technologies are properly set up well in advance of the traffic influx – including your cybersecurity technology

“During the holiday shopping season, many websites launch new integrations. If you want to include promotion-focused features like countdowns, discount spinners, etc., make sure they are fully functional well in advance. Make sure they don’t affect the performance or load times of your store by testing them repeatedly.”

– Rene Delgado, Founder & CEO, Shop Indoor Golf

“Having a significant amount of business makes you a significant target. It’s important to make sure you’ve taken all possible precautions to protect your data and privacy in advance, as cyber attacks tend to spike during BFCM. A Ping Identity poll indicated that 56 percent of consumers would cease interacting with a brand online following a data breach. Your company’s image can’t afford to suffer any setbacks while the spotlight is on it.”

– Bram Jansen, Co-Founder, VPNAlert

“Our biggest mistake during the BFCM week of 2021 was not investing in adequate technical support and infrastructure. We discovered the hard way that failing to prepare technically is one of the worst mistakes you can make. Historically, approximately 37% of all holiday retail sales occur during Cyber Week, implying that successful ecommerce brands see a massive increase in traffic on Black Friday.

With all of that traffic, our website was overwhelmed, leading it to lag and crash entirely. Ironically, we lost a lot of business on the busiest week of the year. As a result, we have made sure to invest in the necessary tech support and infrastructure way ahead of time this year. This August, we checked with our hosting provider to see if our current plan can handle the increased traffic and optimize it for BFCM week. So we’re confident that this year, things will be very different.”

– Alice Eve, Marketing Director, Cicinia France

Choose one or two key promotions to spotlight, rather than discounting everything

“I would say my biggest mistakes approaching BFCM in the past have been trying to focus on too many products and promotions rather than promoting a select few to drive sales. I have learned instead to choose a couple of top sellers to discount, and a couple of products I would like to promote, and limit promotions to these selections.”

– Shirlene Kyin, Director of Operations, Soylent

Strike the right balance with seasonal staffing

“Hiring is one arena where it’s easy to make mistakes around BFCM. It’s a delicate balance between hiring enough seasonal staff to where you’re covered, and hiring too many people and ultimately losing money. This becomes easier once you’ve weathered at least one BFCM and can look back on past years to see how many extra people you should hire as you head into the season.”

– Grace Baena, Director of Brand, Kaiyo

Promote your deals early – and often

“One of the biggest BFCM mistakes that can be made is not actively launching early Black Friday sales and discounts. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are saturated with ads, promos, deals, etc. The cost to compete during this time is immense. But launching an early BFCM sale puts you ahead of the competition and captures your audience before they feel financially tapped out.”

– Georges Thébault-Dagher, Director of eComm & Paid Ads, Maddleboards.com

“This year, the biggest mistake you can make is not offering your Black Friday deals early. Because of inflation and the recession, most businesses are offering their super deals early, or at least a portion of the discounts early, in an effort to bring more customers out. Most consumers are on tight budgets this year. Offering discounts for a longer period of time will give your customers more time to budget in your products, increasing your sales in the process.”

– James Green, Owner, Cardboard Cutouts

For years, our business only sent out one email for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I didn’t want to be too aggressive. Two years ago, we tracked how many emails we received personally from our favorite retailers and it was between 8-10 emails over the entire week. So last year we tested sending multiple emails throughout the week promoting our sales and we saw revenue jump by over 500%. We plan on doing the same thing this year again.

– Jeff Moriarty, Marketing Director, Moriarty’s Gem Art

“The most major problem I see for online stores during deals is ‘page not found.’ Consider that your links should be active to secure higher revenues over the holiday season. Links serve as a connection point between your audience and your online store. So, you must ensure your company has a sturdy bridge to carry potential clients there.

I suggest you ensure all the Call-To-Action links are operational before sending out marketing emails or launching advertising campaigns (i.e., not broken). To determine which ads are doing better for your BFCM sales, make sure the appropriate UTM parameters are set in your links. Additionally, if you are using a link shortener, make sure the links are leading to the correct page by checking them again. Your ideal customer won’t be able to find your store if your CTA link doesn’t correctly target your landing page.”

– Simon Brisk, CEO, Click Intelligence

Once you “press play”, do not make changes to your BFCM campaigns 

You had months to prepare.  Unless it is going to cripple the business, don’t get cute and try to change things last minute.  You have a much better chance of breaking something than you do making a difference with your last-minute change.   I spent three hours on the phone with support because an email wasn’t being sent on Cyber Monday.  We thought we did everything right to reschedule it.  We didn’t.  The flow was locked, it is the best-performing email of the year, and the reason it wasn’t being sent is that I thought we should try to send it 30 minutes earlier.  If there is a massive flaw that is going to cause significant damage, fix the problem.  If not, minor details need to wait until next year.

– Jeff Vogl, Founder, ClassicCarStereos.com

Get ready for a spike in sales – and returns

We’d be remised to not mention returns. Remember, a spike in sales means a spike in returns.

And if you can’t delight your customers with an easy return process, those sales won’t lead to repeat sales. Meaning more costs, and less loyalty.

Want to learn how Loop can help you save time and money on BFCM returns? Book a demo today.