Cyber week is big business. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are retail’s version of the gold rush. These popular annual events have become two of retail’s highest sales days worldwide and it has become essential for online retailers to prepare their business for the madness of cyber week.
Sales and marketing strategies get an annual makeover as cyber week draws near, but this is no longer enough. To remain competitive and keep operations running smoothly, companies now need to look at optimising their fulfilment processes ahead of the big rush.
To really capitalise on cyber week sales, you need to ensure there will be no distribution problems during cyber week and the weeks thereafter in the run up to the holiday period. Nothing ruins cyber week sales figures like returns and complaints. Often, this means beginning preparation in the summer, but there are some things you can do regardless of how early you start preparing.
The growth of cyber week sales
Cyber week sales just keep on growing with some companies now making up to 40% of their annual sales during the event. Last year 77% of UK Black Friday transactions were online and with the outbreak of COVID-19, retail closures have forced even more consumer spending online.
With this trend set to continue, it’s more important than ever to prepare your business for a busier cyber week than ever before, with shipping companies at maximum capacity and subject to travel restrictions due to the pandemic.
How to prepare for cyber week sales
Here are five key steps to help ensure a smooth operation come cyber week.
1. Competition vigilance
Start monitoring your competitors early. By subscribing to email lists and social media campaigns, you’ll gather ideas and get a better insight into what your customers are seeing.
2. Contingency planning
A lot can go wrong in the rush of cyber week so having contingency plans in place is a must. Brainstorm potential problems, troubleshoot potential issues in advance and give yourself as many options as possible.
That means having backup products available, alternative shippers in case your courier lets you down, preparing for inventory overloads, additional person-hours for picking and packing, and preparing for the possibility of staff getting sick with COVID-19.
Preparing for a product demand spike requires forecasting. Making inventory decisions early is a smart option. Forecast product demand and make orders accordingly, no one wants to leave orders on the table that they could have fulfilled with a bit of planning.
4. Make pandemic provisions
As well as making provisions for possible shipping delays, consider pandemic-specific product trends. 8% of Shopify merchants have already started new product lines in preparation for this year’s cyber-week.
You will also need to consider the ramifications of a staff member contracting Covid-19. Would this close your business during the busiest weeks of the year? Make sure you have the proper measures in place and communicate with your staff about the risks this would pose.
5. Organise upcoming sales
It’s wise to plan any deals or discounts ahead of time. Creating sales maps, scheduled promotions and shareable discount links makes it easier to communicate offers and for customers to access offers.
It also gives your warehouse team time to put together any special promotions and product bundles well in advance and keep things running smoothly when the orders start rolling in.
How to increase cyber week sales
Last year, UK shoppers spent an estimated £8.6 billion on Black Friday, so planning ahead should be a priority this time of year to make sure you have an amazing week of sales when cyber week comes around.
To get in on this action and boost your cyber sales even further, make sure to prioritise customer experience with your online sales platform. Mitigating problems along the customer journey will help facilitate maximum sales satisfaction, reduce returns and keep new customers coming back to your brand.
These three steps are designed to help maximise your user experience and boost your online sales.
1. Use your sales data wisely
An inventory management system is the guardian angel of retail. It can be used to explore sales data, review past performance, and determine what to promote. Identify best sellers and stock your shelves with similar items.
Use cyber-week deals to shift any hard-to-move stock and track your inventory to determine how much stock you can realistically distribute.
2. Give your website the once over
This is a big one. Make sure your shopping cart is fully functional across web and mobile well ahead of time. Facilitating multiple payment options will increase sales and checkout speed. Make sure that shipping and returns options are easy to understand.
Products with higher prices but free shipping tend to do better. The aim of the game should be simplicity. Prioritise user-friendly designs with customer support options and ensure your website is ready to handle the upcoming traffic spike.
For a full guide on how to maximise online sales on your website, checkout this article: How to Maximise Your Online Sales on Cyber Monday
Prepare business for cyber week and start your marketing campaigns early. This will build excitement and momentum. Draw customers in with warm-up emails promising amazing offers to come. Include product photographs, interactive games, and limited-time deals.
Consider giving your packaging a makeover for the special event to come. Most importantly, remember to leverage your campaigns across multiple web and social media channels for optimum engagement.
Why order fulfilment is so important for online sales
As cyber-week approaches, it’s easy to get carried away with the promise of increased sales. But it’s no good making promises you can’t deliver on. To avoid disappointing your customers with product shortages or mislaid deliveries, make realistic delivery commitments.
Most customers ordering during the cyber week rush expect their orders in time for the Christmas holidays. But high sales volumes make delivery fulfilment much harder. If you can’t 100% guarantee Christmas delivery, then don’t!
The most important thing to do is organise in advance. Make products in the warehouse accessible, hire more staff, master the art of communication, and create an ordered hierarchy based on customer priority, shipping requirements and product specifications.
Check out this recent article to find out more on the impact of order fulfilment on online sales: What is order fulfilment? And why it’s so important in 2020.
How to prepare your order fulfilment for a successful Cyber Monday
To increase your chances of delivering all orders on time, you should meet with your fulfilment to discuss logistics and prepare business for cyber week. Demand will be high, so get in early. Have an efficient ordering system in place and notify your partner of your warehouse requirements.
For optimum results follow the five rules of order-fulfilment.
1. Cross-training & cross-docking
Make sure your employees receive cross-training so that they can help out across multiple departments when staffing is stretched. Facilitating a high-volume cross-docking operation will provision the quick routing of goods from suppliers to retailers at low costs.
2. Expand sales dates
Expanding cyber-week across a longer time period will spread demand over a more manageable timeframe and take the pressure off your warehouse staff and order commitments. (However, make sure to consider the effect of urgency on your online conversion rates!!)
3. Third-party logistics
Maintain communications with a third-party logistics provider and reserve some additional warehousing space as needed. (Click here to arrange a call with one of our fulfilment team)
4. Staff welfare
Prioritise your staff. This is a stressful time in the warehouse, and you can’t afford to lose valuable employees. Communicate clearly how important this period is to the business and make sure they know how important their role is.
5. Omnichannel logistics
It’s important for your customers to have a consistent brand experience when buying from you. It’s equally important for your fulfilment team to have consistency as well. Consider implementing and omnichannel logistics solutions so all of your orders can be handled in the same way, whatever platform they are made on, whatever courier is required. This will help cut out mistakes, improve accuracy, and improve speed of fulfilment.
You’re cyber week ready!
If you’re following all of the steps above, you’re most likely ready for cyber week, and at least ahead of the game.
By being prepared and making provisions for the sales rush well in advance, you’ll maximise on sales and customer satisfaction. Once it’s all over, reflect on what worked and what didn’t to prepare for next year, you’ll probably have gained some long-term customers in the process.
If you’re struggling to get ready for cyber week or if you had a disastrous experience last time around, get in touch with our team and we’d be happy to walk you through how outsourcing your order fulfilment can help you capitalise on Black Friday and Cyber Monday moving forward. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +353 1 902 9510.