Five Ecommerce Insiders Reveal BFCM Secrets

Lucas Walker
September 15, 2020
Five ecommerce insiders and Gorgias partners share their ecommerce secrets

Black Friday and Cyber Monday, or BFCM for short, is the biggest online shopping week of the year. In 2019, 58 million consumers shopped online which surpassed the amount of people going in-store. In 2020, this number is going to grow even bigger, which means you want to make sure your ecommerce business is prepared. 

In 2020, many businesses are already gearing up for BFCM since it’s set to not only be the biggest year yet, but also the most competitive. With more brands than ever heading online you need to ensure you stand out in the crowd too. 

Build & Maintain Customer Relationships

“60% of Cyber Weekend sales are from customers who have already engaged with you.” 
- Joe McCarty, Director of Performance Marketing at Klaviyo

Now is the perfect time to start building and maintaining your customer relationships, said Joe. If you start doing this now, when BFCM comes around they’ll be looking out for what your brand is doing. Remember to focus on both new AND existing customers too. You want to make sure you’re nurturing these customers since many of them may have discovered your brand as a result of shifting their shopping behaviour during the pandemic, said Joe.

According to Klaviyo, data from 2019 shows that “60% of Cyber Weekend sales were driven by consumers who engaged with an email from a brand prior to Q3 that same year.” So, don’t disregard the efforts you’ve been putting in now, and earlier in 2020 because they do make a difference. This is especially true if you’re looking at doing segmentation strategies, which we’ll talk about later.

On top of this, Joe said that “consumers who engaged with a brand’s email by clicking on it had a 10% greater average order value, accounting for 53% of total sales.” This shows that engagement, though not a conversion, is still a key factor in how people are going to be buying.

Keep An Eye On The Big Guys

“Nobody can predict what Q4 will look like, but many signs are pointing to the current accelerated ecommerce demand continuing, while also seeing the typical holiday spike.”
- Casey Armstrong, CMO at ShipBob.

Smaller ecommerce brands need to keep an eye out and listen to what the major players are doing in the space. Recently, two of those players, Amazon and Walmart have made big announcements. 

Casey let us know that Amazon has put a limit on the amount of inventory you can store in their network which can bring problems to smaller ecommerce brands gearing up for BFCM. Second, Walmart has delayed their launch of Walmart+ (again) and though this choice could be viewed as them avoiding the distraction of a launch, they also had big concerns around the ability to fulfill their 2-day promises.

“Both Amazon and Walmart are a proxy for our economy and ecommerce operations. There will be capacity issues or limits in certain fulfillment networks and the need to have your inventory closer to your end consumers has never been more important to fulfill on your fast delivery promise” Casey said. For this reason, brands need to keep their ears open to see what limitations there are in order to meet customer demands. 

Consider Staffing Up Your Support Team

“One of the biggest mistakes ecommerce firms make when approaching BFCM is not staffing up their customer support team early enough.” 
- Alex Ross, Co-Founder & COO at Horatio

The influx of inquiries between new and existing customers can be overwhelming and the last thing you want is your support team being overwhelmed during the busiest season. Alex said that at Horatio they “engage each of their clients in late summer to begin forecasting and preparing teams for additional headcounts.” By doing this, they’re able to appropriately prepare to avoid that burnout and they recommend other companies do the same in September. 

Especially this year, it’s more important than ever for companies to evaluate what the increased customer ticket volume could look like. With the pandemic bringing so many people online to do their shopping, we’re likely to experience a higher amount of support tickets than ever before.

Alex said that the companies that are able to “retail those first-time ecommerce buyers will be the real winners.” So, focusing on exceeding customer expectations across the board, especially with first response times, will be essential for success beyond BFCM.

He also had a few more insights, that probably could have been their own blog post.

  1. One of the biggest mistakes ecommerce firms make approaching BFCM is not staffing up their customer support team early enough. We recommend companies assess headcount in early September, which gives companies a month to staff-up, and 2 months to onboard and train new customer support agents. At Horatio, we engage each of our clients in late summer to begin forecasting and prepare our teams for additional headcount.
  2. Ecommerce holiday sales have posted double-digit growth rates every year for the past 10 years. Even more, e-commerce sales continue to make up a higher and higher percentage of total retail sales each year (11% in 2019). With COVID-19 bringing in many first-time buyers to the ecommerce space, companies need to prepare for increased customer ticket volume and make sure their customer support teams are staffed appropriately to deliver an experience that retains those first-time shoppers. 
  3. With COVID-19 bringing so many new first-time e-commerce buyers to the table, the companies that are able to retain those first-time shoppers will be the real winners. To retain those customers, you need to exceed customer's expectations on First Response Times and received strong satisfaction metrics across all channels. To do that, you need to make sure you have a great ticketing software in-place and a sizable customer support team to manage the inquiries. 
  4. If you have systemic issues with areas of your customer experience, they tend to be brought to light and exacerbated during high ticket volume periods like BFCM. It's crucial to make the necessary tweaks and fixes well in advance of BFCM so that you have ample time to test and retest to eliminate them.


Segment and target your promotions

“The best way to generate sales is to tap into your audience of interested or existing buyers using segmentation when it comes to email.” 
- Jun Li Yong, Content Marketing Manager at Chronos Agency.

A lot of brands don’t put as much effort into email campaigns as they should, and this hinders the success of them. If you’re sending a blanket email out to all your subscribers, the majority of people may not have interest in what you’re sending. By segmenting emails based on interest, you’re able to cater content to people, making it much more likely to convert those consumers, and also keep them loyal.

In one of Chronos Agency’s blog posts, they say that instead of searching online for best times to send email, gather your own data from A/B tests to determine best send times. Speaking of send times, they also say that you shouldn’t be scared to start sending emails early. By creating hype around your BFCM promotions, you can play the VIP access angles with your existing customers to get them ready for what’s to come.

Review your 2019 BFCM and 2020 data way before you think you need to.

“Look at your support trends from BFCM 2019, and any other spikes in 2020. You don’t want to lose sales or add stress to your team because you weren’t prepared”
- Lucas Walker, Marketing at Gorgias

One of the best ways to predict the future, is to look to the past. What happened last year? Was your support team under, over, or adequate staffed? Were customers waiting so long to hear back they opened a second ticket? Maybe they were asking questions before making a purchase.

Look at the data in your help desk to find out, and use this to proactively answer questions around shipping times, return policies, and of course where their order is.

Use this data to create macros, views, and staff schedules ahead of time.

If you’re on another help desk, and want to save 30% of your team’s efforts, reduce your first support time, we will give you access to Gorgias for free until your current contract runs out.


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