It’s not too early for ecommerce merchants to get prepared for their Black Friday-Cyber Monday sales campaigns. For most retailers, this shopping window is the best-selling sales period of the year, when customers flock to clearance sales, markdowns, and limited time offers on their favorite merchants’ products to stock up for Christmas gifts as well as purchases for their own homes. 

At the same time, you might also be preparing for other annual or semi-annual sales events, such as July sales, Memorial Day sales, and other special events that you can use to drum up renewed interest in your products and clear out older inventory.

Retailers that have both an in-store and ecommerce presence, including Target, Walmart, and Best Buy, have long dominated the Black Friday shopping season. Though Amazon has a much smaller in-store presence, its Amazon Prime Day and Cyber Monday shopping events are some of the biggest online shopping events in America. On Amazon Prime Day, 68% of consumers typically make a purchase.

What can you learn from these brands about marketing and promoting your Cyber Monday event and other special sales?

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • How to advertise your sales promos
  • How to prepare for a sitewide sale
  • How to increase customer retention after your sales events

Start your promos early
Summer isn’t too soon to start thinking about Christmas shopping. Savvy shoppers are likely to start planning out their budgets and purchases early, both for gifts and for their own household needs — so by updating customers about your limited-time offers that will be available during special shopping events, they’ll be able to add your products to their wish lists and come back when it’s time to shop. Tease your limited-time offers and clearance specials with mailers and online ads weeks in advance of your sales: Target, for example, has often released its Black Friday ads at the start of November, giving shoppers plenty of time to research and prepare.

Use multiple marketing channels to connect with new and existing shoppers
Well in advance of your sales event, you should be sending out promo campaigns to your existing customers, using the channels they prefer to connect with your brand: email, SMS messaging, or in-app notifications. It’s also important to expand your reach to new shoppers who may be interested in your products, using social media, Google ads, and other digital advertising methods to target shoppers who’ve purchased items from similar brands, as well as past customers who haven’t signed up for your notifications.

Offer a sitewide sale as well as special extra markdowns
To generate excitement about your best sales of the year, offer a coupon that can be applied for a discount on all of your merchandise sitewide — say, 10% or 20% — as well as more significant markdowns off select styles or categories to drum up additional excitement. Make sure that shoppers know that once your clearance sale items are gone, they’re gone for good — it will inspire urgency that encourages them to buy on the sale date rather than waiting to purchase, and they’ll likely purchase additional products at the same time to make the most of your sitewide sale. When choosing items for additional markdowns, focus on items with significant profit margins where you can afford to drop your pricing, such as skincare and other beauty products, cookware, and home decor, as well as a small number of high-ticket, best-selling items with lower margins, such as laptops and TVs.

Ensure that you’re prepared to handle the high demand of a sitewide sales event
When offering a promo on your merchandise, make sure that you have the inventory and customer support technology available to provide a great customer experience. By using a scalable ecommerce platform like Shopify, retailers are able to ensure a secure and reliable transaction for their shoppers, regardless of shopper volume. It’s also important to make sure that you’re equipped to handle questions and support issues, with a combination of live support and automated help desk and chatbot solutions that give customers access to answer their own questions. And make sure that you’re able to keep careful track of your inventory — don’t sell back-ordered merchandise unless your shoppers have consented to a longer wait time, as they’ll likely end up canceling their orders if they can receive the same product faster from another retailer.

Optimize your returns process to increase customer retention
Keep in mind that returns are a common part of the post-purchase experience — and rather than alienating customers, it’s important to build a positive returns experience that helps you drive customer loyalty and retention. Provide a flexible returns policy with an extended return window, and provide incentives, such as store credit or a promo code for a future purchase, for customers to choose exchanges or store credit rather than returning items for a refund. By creating a seamless exchange process, you’ll be able to encourage your shoppers to remain loyal to your brand and try out another product, even if the first one didn’t work for them. Using a returns management solution like Loop makes it easy to automate the returns process with simple customer self-service, helping you retain more revenue through exchanges — Loop customers typically retain about 40% of revenue from their returns, via exchanges and upsells.

In order to make the most of your best sales and markdowns, don’t just focus on slashing prices to bring in new customers — focus on ways to retain those customers once they’ve made a purchase, by adding them to your marketing campaigns for future promos and developing curated recommendations to encourage them to try out other products. And by prioritizing a positive, flexible returns process that makes it easy for shoppers to swap items that they don’t want for ones that they do, you’ll be able to build long-term customer relationships.

Though shoppers who might have found you via Black Friday-Cyber Monday promos can be fickle and price-conscious, by ensuring that you deliver a personalized and high-quality customer experience through every step of the buyer’s journey, you can keep them around for the long term.

Learn how to optimize your returns for customer retention. Try a demo of Loop today.