The holiday season is approaching quickly and, if the National Retail Federation is correct, retailers can expect a four percent increase over last year’s November and December sales. As retailers have learned in past years, the holiday season comes on quickly, slamming businesses for four frenzied weeks before transitioning into a multi-month winter slump. So my question to you is this: Do you have a Cyber Monday Game Plan?
I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.
Do You Have a Cyber Monday Game Plan?
Complicating matters is the fact that more shoppers than ever are heading online to avoid the crowds. Brick-and-mortar locations are competing with e-tailers for consumer dollars, making it more important than ever that sites be reliable and easy-to-use. Just as the general holiday shopping season kicks off with Black Friday, online retailers start the season with Cyber Monday. With only weeks remaining before the big day, it’s important that online retailers begin formulating an official game plan for Cyber Monday. This three-step guide is designed to cover each area of your operations in preparation for the biggest online shopping day of the year.
Step One: Do a Server Check
A successful Cyber Monday means record number of customers will flock to your site within the same 24-hour period. A nightmarish Cyber Monday means a record number of customers flock to your site at once, creating a traffic jam that ties up your server for hours.
Cyber Monday can easily go from your biggest success to your biggest failure. Chances are, if your customers’ first impression of you is a shoddy, shaky website that is slow to load, you’ll never see those customers again. This is especially true if those customers are halfway through the checkout process when all of their information is suddenly wiped out.
To make sure your website can handle the strain, do thorough testing ahead of time. Consider using a service like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to learn more about your page load time across a variety of devices.
Step Two: Set a Shipping Strategy
On any list of business holiday season mistakes, shipping failures comes in a close second to website failures. In the short period of time between Thanksgiving weekend and Christmas weekend, customers expect to select, receive, and wrap every purchase. If your business isn’t prepared to get items in the mail quickly, you will find yourself issuing refunds and earning a reputation for being unreliable.
In the weeks leading up to Cyber Monday, set up a plan to address shipping your orders. Order enough boxes and packing materials to get you through the holidays and assign team members to ensure items are packaged and sent on their way within one business day of being ordered. Also ensure that you’ll be able to fulfill those last-minute orders.
Step Three: Launch a Campaign
Yes, shoppers are migrating to the Internet to buy holiday gifts, but the retail industry is well aware of it. That means competition is fierce for those shoppers and, unless your business is a well-known name with a million-dollar marketing budget, you’ll have to be creative to get an edge.
Luckily, you don’t have to spend a fortune on marketing. Using social media, you can kick off a campaign by simply offering a discount. Start planning early and word will spread in time to ensure plenty of customers show up for your Cyber Monday sale.
By preparing in advance, your business can be poised to take on any challenges that arise this holiday season. It’s never too early to craft a strategy to attract and retain more customers this Cyber Monday.
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