Black Friday is one of the most, if the THE most, famous, and infamous, shopping days of the year. For both consumers and businesses, it heralds the beginning of the holiday shopping frenzy with huge sales and amazing deals. But Black Friday is no longer alone on its pedestal of gigantic shopping days. Cyber Monday (some call it Black Monday, but that isn’t as cool) is still new compared to Black Friday, but it is already taking the retail and eCommerce world by storm. Where Black Friday is considered the beginning to the regular shopping holiday shopping season, many consider Cyber Monday to be the beginning of the online holiday shopping season, at least it is according to Investopedia.
There are some very good reasons you need to pay attention to Cyber Monday, especially if you run a solely eCommerce based business. According to US Economy, sales on Cyber Monday hit $2.29 billion dollars in 2013. Compared to the $1.5 billion for 2012 and $1.3 billion in 2011, it’s obvious that Cyber Monday is growing fast. Beyond that, during the whole holiday shopping season, online sales are expected to hit $105 billion, up from the $95.7 billion of 2013. Plus, shoppers are expected to spend an average of 44 percent of their time shopping online, again up from the 38.8 percent of 2013. If these numbers aren’t enough you get you excited about Cyber Monday and online shopping during this holiday season, nothing will. But you can’t go into the holiday shopping season unprepared, so here are a couple tips you should consider when getting your eCommerce business ready for Cyber Monday and the rest of the online holiday shopping frenzy.
Your Servers Will be Heavily Taxed
Considering the fact that Cyber Monday is the biggest online shopping day of the year, it should come as no surprise that your business’s servers will be under a lot of stress during that day. Unless you choose to avoid offering any sort of special Cyber Monday deals (a bad idea). So it’s incredibly important that you make sure your servers are in tip-top shape before the big day. IT Business Edge provides a good checklist of maintenance steps and other tasks you should go over before the big day. Some of suggestions they give including checking over all your logs and reports to find any problems, making sure your bandwidth can handle the potentially huge bursts of traffic, upgrading your servers RAM if you think it won’t be enough to cover the traffic, and even doing a full reboot before the big day to ensure things like disk checks (which can potentially take hours to complete) are dealt with before the traffic starts rolling in.
Get your Deals in Order
This one is kind of obvious, but it’s still very important. You’ll want to take some time to plan and prepare all the deals and sales you’re going to offer during Cyber Monday well in advance. The Huffington Post states that some of the retail giants offer customers the ability to sign up for Cyber Monday email notifications while others have dedicated pages that will show the deals when the day gets closer. However, it’s absolutely critical that you don’t jump the gun and let your customers know of your deals too early. If you do so, you will basically be shooting yourself in the foot as the majority, if not all, of your customers will likely stop making any purchases on your site as they wait for Cyber Monday to do their buying. The route you want to take on letting your customers know is up to you, but it’s important that your employees know beforehand what’s planned.
Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst
As the great and almighty Murphy once said, “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Whether a person named Murphy ever said that, or whether he even existed is beside the point. The fact is that something is almost guaranteed to go wrong on Cyber Monday. With the level of customer traffic you’re bound to get, all the preparation in the world might still not be enough to deal with whatever problems crop up. So it’s important that you plan for the worst case scenario. Wired highly suggests that you keep monitoring all your systems and websites in real-time so you can immediately start working on any fixes and repairs the moment something goes wrong. It’s also important that you make contact with your customers as soon as a problem happens. Leaving your customers in the dark as to why your sites down, or why a particular deal or link is glitching out is a fantastic way to drive them away. The old retail adage of “location, location, location” may still hold true for physical stores, but in the realm of the Internet and eCommerce, a more apt adage might be “uptime and communication saves sales,” at least, that’s what Wired thinks.
Whether you use an eCommerce service provider like Shopify, or you have a fully DIY website, you need to stay on top of all aspects of your business during Cyber Monday and to a lesser extent during the rest of the holiday shopping season. Always remember that communication, careful planning, and diligent monitoring goes a long way towards keeping a handle on things during the turbulent days of holiday online shopping.