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As I approach my third Cyber Monday, I can’t help but reflect on how far I’ve come since the first one. That year, I let my customers know about our Cyber Monday sale at 2 pm that day. In 2013, I took some cues from the big box stores and did a soft launch of the sale Sunday morning, then followed it up a few hours later with an announcement via email and social channels. I bet you can guess which sale was more successful.

But before you start promoting your seasonal sales, you need to make sure your store is ready for the influx of traffic, both on and offline. The trick to truly successful holiday sales is the right preparation. A self-audit on the front end can save you time, increase sales and move product. Here are a few tips I use to make the holiday season even brighter.

1) Reoptimize your store

Take a moment to put yourself in the customers shoes and go through the entire order process. Use multiple devices to test and test again. If you have the latest tech and a fast Internet connection, you might want to go to the nearest coffee shop, library or a friend’s house to see how your site performs for the average customer.

If you do discover your site is getting slowed down by that fancy new third-party widget, consider removing it, even if its just for November and December. Time is precious and can make the difference between landing or losing a sale.

2) Double check your inventory

How’s your inventory health? Hopefully you already have enough merchandise in stock to satisfy all your inbound holiday traffic, because getting more now could put a serious dent in your profit margins. But if inventory is low on your best sellers, a last-minute order may be worth it.

This is also a good time to review how your store handles out-of-stock items. Imagine the frustration of hitting several products in a row that aren’t available for purchase, especially during the holiday rush. Bigcommerce allows you tweak settings at both the store and the product level. I am a fan of hiding products that are out of stock, which lets in-stock options rise to prominence in their place.

3) Get it out the door

Want to get the most out of your holiday traffic? Run a quick report on product sales, paying special attention to your price points. If something isn’t moving, consider reducing the price to target bargain hunters. It’s costing you money by sitting on the shelf in your warehouse.

Inventory Planner is a great way to track sales by product, category and other variables. The system forecasts demand value, lends replenishment advice and can tell you the value of your inventory. It has helped me tremendously visualize what’s sitting on my shelves.

4) Plan for a social sale

Now that you’ve taken the time to get your operation in fighting shape, consider your options on getting the word out about your sale. Stupid Cancer has had great results from social media outreach. And thanks to free apps like HootSuite and TweetDeck, you can automate scheduling posts and monitoring activity.

But you don’t want to fully automate your social media presence either.If you don’t have a dedicated person running your social media operation, proactively schedule time during your busiest sales to personally check in. By keeping an eye on social, you can make sure people aren’t experiencing issues with things like coupon codes, broken links and more.  For more on communicating with your customers, check out my last #SellSmart post on customer service channels.

Do you have any tips for smart Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales? Share them in the comments below!

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  • Laura

    Hi Kenny. Our event is a 4 day weekend so involves Cyber Monday too, glad you like it, thank you

  • Hey Laura,

    Your site looks ready to go and I love the preview category – brilliant! Do you run both a Black Friday as well as a Cyber Monday sale?

    Wishing you a successful holiday season!

  • I have been busy preparing our website for Black Friday & Cyber Monday and have teased customers with the deals that are coming. I have a category ready on our site that is for preview only and have been proactive with email marketing and Social sharing. We have seen a big increase in potential customers browsing our deals and we are hoping for a successful weekend.

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