Black Friday and Cyber Monday are about to hit yet again. Last year, 154 million more people shopped than in 2015 and it’s only predicted to get bigger. It’ll be interesting to see how 2017 shapes up, but in the meantime, there are some things you can do as a retailer for both brick-and-mortar and online stores to start planning for next year and beyond.
How to handle the crush of shoppers
Every retailer’s biggest focus and investment, for both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar, needs to be on scaling. If your backend falls apart because of a crush of traffic, everything you set up will be for naught. You need a system that can handle the large traffic load and the pounding of people hitting refresh and trampling through your store.
Moving to the cloud or at least hybridizing part of your environment prior to Black Friday must be a priority. The cloud allows you to rapidly scale your operations based on traffic load for a significant cost savings over running your datacenter in-house. It’s a key part of keeping your network flexible, agile, and scalable.
For brick-and-mortar stores, the key to increasing revenue is optimizing the movement of people in and out of the store. The traffic flooding into these stores on Black Friday can represent several multiples of the typical daily traffic. In order to be successful, the floor staff must be equipped with real-time information about inventory levels, customer flows, in-store deal announcements, and answers to the questions asked by panicked, manic shoppers.
The best way to arm staff is to supply mobile devices that enable them to communicate with each other and provide that real-time information at their fingertips. You can even provide POS systems directly on those devices so they can check people out right in the middle of the store, significantly reducing the crush at the front counters.
Brick-and-mortar retailers must also stand out from the noise of their competitors beyond just giving excellent customer service. To differentiate, they must offer compelling real-time deals that can draw the crowds and satisfy shoppers’ needs. But customers must receive this information in a timely manner. The same digital systems that keep floor staff up to date can help customers determine their Black Friday game plan. With the right analytics in place offering a 360 degree view of the customer, you can provide personalized deals and recommendations that compel shoppers to prioritize your shops on their Black Friday agenda.
How to make the online experience as exciting as the in-store experience
Online goes a bit differently. Shoppers may plan their Cyber Monday or Black Friday based on email newsletters and ads they’ve received, but there’s a ton of competition. Sending real-time offers and encouraging shoppers to subscribe to deal alerts throughout the day can help you stand out from the noise and leverage the loyalty you’ve built throughout the rest of the year.
Online retailers can leverage the same technologies driving in-store personalization to send customized deals and ads to consumers based on their shopping habits with the help of products like analytics and integration. Researchers have seen consumers that receive more targeted ads are more than twice as likely to buy the advertised product as consumers that get non-targeted ads.
The same systems can identify shopping trends in real time, allowing for dynamic pricing and deal creation based on predicted shopping trends and inventory levels. This can help dramatically decrease the logistical headaches that come with coordinating your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales while offering deals that drive purchasing behavior without discounting so deeply that you lose profits.