Sales & Marketing

Online sales: How prepared are you for Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

5 min read

16 November 2018

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers no longer restricted to two days, retailers need to ensure online operations are running smoothly before tempting consumers with bargains.

In 2017, £1.4 billion was spent on online sales in the UK on Black Friday. This was up by 11.7% from 2016, according to the online retailers’ trade body IMRG.

It’s no surprise then that retailers prepare for months in advance to capitalise on the opportunities, ensuring they have the correct offers in place and that their servers can take the volume of increased traffic.

If this is your first Black Friday or Cyber Monday, note that it’s all about the customers. They want a quick, seamless journey to securing a purchase. And if you get the process right, they’ll change from being potential one-off customers to loyal ones.

But if you choose to go the bargain route, the surge WILL place burdens on your company and website. To mitigate against these, there are some technological areas of the business you need to fortify.

Robust and reliant infrastructure

You must ensure that your infrastructure is robust and reliant enough to withstand the high volume of traffic that it will experience during this busy period.

No retailer can risk having servers that fail and web pages that take too long to load. Patience has long gone out the window.

By hosting voice and data in a cloud solution you will benefit from resiliency, for example. Take us much pressure off the company as possible.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotic processing automation (RPA)

AI, you ask, is it necessary for an SME? Only if your concerns for basket abandonment – that crucial stage of the customer journey – are high.

Think of it this way: a staggering 61% of customers abandon their order at check out because of website errors.

Some 60% do so because they have to create an account and 46% do so because there is a long and complex checkout, Namagoo research explains.

If retailers don’t offer seamless self-service on their websites and integrate it into their contact centre, making the process easy, intuitive and consistent for customers, they will miss out.

New technologies such as AI, RPA and Web Real Time Communications can make solving problems easier for both parties. There are solutions out there, for example, whereby, a customer may be looking for a product.

Staff members will be able to use conversational AI – otherwise known as a digital agent – to guide them to the specific product or information that they are looking for. If the digital agent can’t answer the question, they will be put through to a human.

Even if you don’t look to AI or automation, find tools that will reduce your frustration. It will make the overall process smooth and efficient.

Not just about the sale

Always be aware that it is not just about the sale of the product but the overall customer journey.

During Black Friday and Cyber Monday millions of products will be ordered but also millions returned so it is essential that there is an easy to use and seamless returns process.

This way you’ll be able to retain brand image and customer loyalty.

An end to end journey

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the moments of truth in proving a retailer’s customer experience and the end to end journey the customer has to take from the promotion, enquiries about the product, ordering, payment, delivery and returns process.

Your back-end needs to be functioning in peak condition for all of those areas to work. After all, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will become less chaotic to manage with experience, but in the meantime your website’s functionality needs to be up-to-scratch.

Utilising the right technology to elevate customer experience is imperative in the age of digital transformation. And you’ll end up creating advocates and loyal customers in the process.