2021 Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) Ecommerce Guide

November 5, 2021
Get prepared for Black Friday and Cyber Monday with our BFCM guide for ecommerce brands.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the two biggest shopping days of the entire year, making these unofficial holidays excellent opportunities for ecommerce sellers. 

As a refresher, Black Friday is a shopping holiday that takes place the Friday after Thanksgiving and has grown into an annual tradition in which stores and businesses across all industries deeply discount their products. Cyber Monday, meanwhile, occurs the Monday after Black Friday and is geared toward driving online sales.

Collectively, these two shopping holidays are known by the acronym "BFCM" — and they present a wealth of potential for any ecommerce business looking to attract new customers and take full advantage of the holiday shopping season. 

In this article, we will explore the history of BFCM and BFCM sales statistics in addition to covering a collection of helpful tips and strategies that you can use to ensure that BFCM 2021 is a smashing success for your ecommerce store.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday: A Brief History

The day after Thanksgiving has always been considered the start of the holiday shopping season for many since the late 19th century. Retailers had Thanksgiving Day parades, which would invite shoppers to start purchasing goods for Christmas. 

Since Thanksgiving was set to take place on the fourth Thursday of November, the day after that became known as “Black Friday,” as it was known to be a day of shopping chaos and traffic congestion. Later, it came to refer to how many retailers make most of their money during the holiday shopping season, moving from the “red” (operating at a loss) to the “black” (making a profit). Over time, the trend took off and evolved into the popular shopping holiday we know today, with retailers offering significant sales to draw bigger and bigger crowds.

Cyber Monday followed much later in 2005 after the term was coined by Ellen Davis of the National Retail Federation based on 2004 research that showed the Monday following Thanksgiving to be one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. Today, it’s an event largely associated with ecommerce giant Amazon, though ecommerce stores across the internet take part in the holiday.

BFCM Trends for 2021 and Statistics Worth Noting From Last Year

Over the years, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have combined to become a massive global event. Last year alone, roughly 186 million U.S. shoppers purchased products on BFCM, spending an average of $311.75 each. 

These numbers become all the more impressive because 2020 BFCM sales saw a dip compared to previous years, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This year, there are some BFCM trends that sellers can expect to continue, including trends such as deals and sale periods that start earlier and last longer and a shift to live chat as the go-to customer support option. Let’s dive in!

There Is Continued Growth in BFCM Online Purchases

Black Friday 2020 saw $14.13 billion in online sales alone, accounting for a little under 25% of all Black Friday sales. Of course, this number doesn't even take into account Cyber Monday sales, the vast majority of which occur online. 

While the pandemic certainly played a role in this move toward online purchases, it's a trend that doesn't seem to be slowing down, meaning that there is still plenty of room for continued growth in BFCM online purchases.

Young Shoppers Utilize Social Media and Mobile Devices to Find BFCM Deals and to Make Purchases

Social media as a shopping platform is a trend that has continued to grow over the years and is an especially impactful trend for stores to leverage during the holiday shopping season. Shopping via mobile devices is a trend that has accelerated as well. The majority of global online purchases originated from mobile devices in 2020. 

Young shoppers are especially prone to using mobile devices and social media as a means of finding deals and making purchases, from paid ads and sponsored influencer posts to viral product tutorial videos. That means that mobile and social media marketing can be especially beneficial for stores targeting a younger demographic of customers during BFCM 2021.

The BFCM Season Keeps Getting Longer

The introduction of Cyber Monday undoubtedly played a major role in encouraging stores to extend their Black Friday deals throughout the weekend and beyond. The trend toward online shopping has also made it easier for stores to keep their deals running longer. Last year, many Black Friday deals started several days before Thanksgiving and ran for several days past Cyber Monday. This trend toward a longer BFCM event is almost certain to continue in 2021.

The Customer Experience Is Now a Primary Driver of Sales

While it may be the deals and discounts that drive BFCM shopping, it's the customer experience that ultimately plays the biggest role in determining where these shoppers decide to spend their money. 

Being able to access speedy delivery times or pick-up options, skip the lines by ordering online, and compare deals well before the BFCM weekend are all important parts of the customer experience. These factors will have a major impact on consumer spending decisions. Offer personalization will also play a role — many ecommerce shoppers expect deals that are tailored to their purchase history.

If you want to maximize your BFCM sales, you need to go beyond merely offering discounts and strive to provide your customers with a convenient and enjoyable shopping experience.

BFCM Ecommerce Best Practices for Bigger Results This Shopping Season

Taking full advantage of Black Friday Cyber Monday requires a very specific marketing strategy. To get your BFCM deals in front of as many potential customers as possible this holiday shopping season, you’ll want to follow best practices:

Deploy Multichannel Marketing, Sales, and Customer Support Options for BFCM

The more nets you have in the water, the more likely you are to catch a fish. In addition to using your online store as a central hub for marketing, sales, and customer support, it's important to leverage as many other channels as possible as well, including all of your social media platforms. 

Utilizing multichannel marketing as well as adding sales and customer support options to each channel that you have available will increase your brand's visibility while making it easier for consumers to purchase your products and reach out for support. 

Recommended Reading: 11 Tips to Get Your Customer Support Ready for BFCM 2021

Optimize the Mobile Version of Your Ecommerce Store

According to Statista, sales originating from a mobile device accounted for a staggering 72.9% of all ecommerce sales in 2020. If your ecommerce store is not optimized for mobile users, you could be missing out on a massive block of potential customers. 

Ensuring that your store is mobile-friendly is an important objective no matter the time of the year, but it is especially important during the holiday shopping season. We recommend testing the mobile-optimized version of your store to make sure it functions flawlessly across a variety of mobile devices, paying special attention to your product pages. 

Make Sure Your Servers and Your Stock are Ready for Higher Traffic

Generating more sales than you are prepared to handle may seem like a good problem to have, but it can cause very real issues if you’re not prepared for that volume of traffic or transactions. 

If your servers aren't capable of handling the increased traffic that your ecommerce website will hopefully receive, your marketing campaigns could end up doing nothing more than directing consumers to a crashed website. Likewise, not having enough stock to keep up with demand could once again cause you to miss out on a lot of would-be customers. 

More money is spent by far on Black Friday and Cyber Monday than any other day of the year. With the right BFCM strategy, your store could be poised for a massive surge in traffic and sales, making it essential to ensure that you have enough stock on hand and that your sites are capable of handling the increased traffic.

Start Marketing Your Deals Earlier and Let Them Run Later

The current BFCM trend is that more and more stores are starting their BFCM deals earlier and letting them run longer. To keep up with the competition, you will want to do the same. When it comes to how long BFCM deals can run, the choice is yours! 

By starting your deals earlier and letting them run longer, you give customers more opportunities to discover your brand and take advantage of the discounts that you are offering. While shopping certainly slows down following Cyber Monday, the holiday shopping season doesn't end until Christmas Day, so there’s plenty of room to experiment with your BFCM strategy. 

Recommended Reading: 10 Surefire Tips to Create High-Converting BFCM Offers 

Be Where Your Shoppers Already Are

You don't have to reinvent the wheel this BFCM. Instead, all you have to do is go where your customers already are and leverage the marketing channels that you already have in place. 

The three marketing channels that you will want to be sure to utilize to promote any Cyber Monday or Black Friday sale are email, your ecommerce website, and social media — and all three are fundamental components of all BFCM marketing campaigns.

Use Email, One of the Most Important Channels for Ecommerce Brands

Email marketing is one of the most powerful tools that ecommerce stores have at their disposal during the BFCM season. If you have managed to build a healthy list of engaged subscribers, chances are they would love to know about the BFCM deals that you’re offering. 

Email marketing also allows you to reconnect with any shoppers who might have abandoned their cart before finalizing their purchase. Cart abandonment is a real issue during BFCM, with an average of 7 out of 10 BFCM shoppers leaving their cart abandoned. By reaching out via email to anyone with an abandoned cart, you can prompt some of these shoppers to finalize their purchases and push toward your revenue goals.

Optimize Your Ecommerce Store for Search

Getting your deals in front of as many eyes as possible is your most important objective during the BFCM season, and ensuring that your ecommerce store ranks as highly as possible for relevant searches is a great place to start. 

Of course, excellent search engine optimization (SEO) isn't something that can be achieved overnight, so it's essential to start optimizing your sites and content well ahead of time. Start with our 10-step guide to ecommerce SEO

Promote on Social Media and Your Online Community Channels

As we've already discussed, more and more shoppers are utilizing social media as a platform for discovering new brands and products, and social media should certainly be a key component of your multichannel marketing strategy this BFCM season. 

If you’re looking for ways to meet your customers where they already are, you can guarantee that they are spending a good deal of time on social media. By promoting your BFCM deals via all of your social media platforms, you provide consumers with additional touchpoints to discover your brand and holiday deals.

Provide Your Customers With Live Chat Support

According to data from Shopify, businesses that responded to a customer's message within five minutes were 70% more likely to make a sale. BFCM shopping is a fast-moving experience, and customers won't wait long for a response to any question or concern they might have regarding your products before they move on to another seller. 

By far one of the best ways to improve the agility of your customer support team and speed up response times is to implement live chat support for your ecommerce store. At Gorgias, we are proud to offer an industry-leading live chat application designed specifically for ecommerce sellers. 

Make the Checkout Process Quick and Easy

Given how common it is for shoppers to abandon their cart before completing their purchase, the last thing you want to do is to make your checkout process any more of a hassle than it has to be! It's vital to offer a customer journey that is as smooth and intuitive as possible, especially your checkout process. For instance, how many clicks does it take to complete a purchase? 

Limit the amount of information that customers have to provide and the number of steps they have to take to complete their purchase as much as you can and ensure that your checkout page is responsive and easy to navigate to reduce the number of sales you lose to cart abandonment. 

Prioritize a Competitive Shipping Experience

Customers who purchase products online prioritize shipping options almost as much as pricing. With this being the case, you will want to prioritize creating a competitive shipping experience as well. 

The more quickly you can deliver a product to a customer's doorstep, the more likely they will be to buy it. Just be sure that you can deliver on whatever promises you make, keeping in mind that a surge of BFCM orders can make delivering on promises of fast shipping all the more challenging.

Be Sure That You Have the Best BFCM Extensions and Apps Installed for Your Ecommerce Platform

Ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, Magneto, and BigCommerce all offer the ability to install a wide range of apps and extensions for your store. From live chat apps to apps that allow users to search your store for specific products, these apps and extensions can offer serious value. 

Before the BFCM season kicks off, make sure that your website is optimized and ready to go with the extensions and apps that will help boost your conversion rate and turn as many visitors as possible into paying customers.

Recommended Reading: 

Use Reverse Logistics to Account for BFCM Returns

It’s all but inevitable that a certain percentage of customers who purchase your products during BFCM is going to end up returning them for a refund. While you can hope that the number of such returns will be minimal, it's important to be prepared. A surge in sales can lead to a surge in returns, and being unprepared to handle these returns promptly can lead to logistical nightmares. 

The answer to this problem is to use reverse logistics to create an efficient process for moving products from consumers requesting a return back to your store. Your team can skip the headache that comes with managing a high volume of return, exchange, or refund requests while providing the best BFCM experience. 

Give Your Customers the Best Support This BFCM Season With Gorgias

Fully capitalizing on all that BFCM has to offer requires the perfect marketing, sales, and customer support strategy — and a big part of that strategy is how your ecommerce website is designed. 

At Gorgias, we offer a broad range of cutting-edge apps and extensions designed for optimizing ecommerce websites, including live chat apps, automation tools to streamline repetitive tasks, and data analytics you can use to draw out valuable insights from the data you collect. 

To see for yourself how Gorgias can help prepare your ecommerce store for success this BFCM season, create your account today.

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