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Peak season? Let's talk peak performance

With this year’s Black Friday sales now just days away, Kristen Cornale, Co-founder and Strategic Director at UnDigital, gives her advice on how to get the most from your Black Friday sale.

It’s no secret that online shopping has become more and more prominent over the last few years. With the introduction of Click Frenzy and online sales events like Black Friday, online retailers have been forced to digitally transform in order to meet the demands of their consumers. Add to this the COVID crisis and online shopping is no longer a luxury for the digitally native, but an expectation for all to access. Website user experience has never been more important. Well known sales events may drive users to your website but it’s up to you to make them stay. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, we’ve compiled a quick three-point checklist for marketing managers to ensure the event runs as smoothly as possible.

Have you made user experience the number one priority?

Website user experience is a huge part of why consumers choose to stay on a website and convert. In the age of convenience, ease of use is everything. On a regular day, online shoppers may have the time to browse between multiple pages and ‘window shop’ until they find what they want. But on sales days, it’s a high-pressure environment and online shoppers are ruthless as they fight for high demand items. For fashion and apparel, it’s quite literally first in best dressed. This year-round, consumers are expecting a flawless experience. This means fast load times, predictive site search and intuitive navigation, just to name a few. Research by Experian showed that over half of Australians have higher expectations for online digital experience in comparison to pre-COVID days. Hell hath no fury like a sale hungry consumer on a slow website – so you’d better get it right.

Design needs to be met with functionality. A website should be stylish, clear, informative and show a logical progression to conversion. Not only will a good website increase brand loyalty, thus increase conversions, it’ll also minimise operational costs. A consumer who can find everything they need will self-service, finding answers to their queries themselves. This then reduces the pressure on customer service representatives, social media managers and call centre agents. Get it right and it’s a win for everyone involved.

Is your website ready for high volume orders?

With Black Friday coming up, there’s a virtual line of customers out the door, waiting to purchase your products. Just as you would a storefront, marketing managers need to ensure they’re well equipped to cope with the demand. If you’d roster extra staff on for a bricks and mortar event, then add extra resources to your website server for an online event.

Automating back of house tasks is an excellent way to introduce efficiencies, particularly for sales events. The ability to automatically process orders and prepare them for shipment is essential when dealing with the kind of high demand Black Friday and Cyber Monday brings in. Australia Post’s 2020 e-commerce report stated that growth was up 80 per cent year-on-year (YOY) in the eight weeks since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organisation. With this in mind, it’s a fair assumption that this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales will further exceed this as more shoppers have become digitally savvy and avoid in-store shopping. Marketing managers need to ensure their server resource is scaled for the demand to ensure orders are sent on time and fulfilled efficiently. Not only is this an investment in the digitisation of your business, it’s an investment that will ensure long-term customer retention and loyalty.

Have you got all measures in place to retain those customers beyond the seduction of a sales affair?

Online sales events may bring customers to your website but it’s up to you to keep them interested. Think of it as a first date. The customer shopping for sales is interested and you’ve managed to bring them to the table, but how do you keep them there? What can you do to ensure the chemistry is right and they show up for date number two? A few things:

Create a positive experience like no other: Make the transaction so seamless that it exceeds whatever your competitors are doing. Again, this comes down to things like design, functionality and the ultimate usability of your website. This can be as simple as offering multiple payment options like paypal, credit card or Afterpay. Part of a positive experience is also the ability to receive the goods quickly. Integrating with a company like Shippit will allow users to view which shipping option best suits their needs and budget. Add-ons are fantastic, just be mindful of how they impact the site’s load time. No one likes a slow replier and the same rules apply when entertaining a prospective customer.

Care enough to check up on them, but don’t be clingy: Data collection is a marketer’s best friend. If you wanted to see someone again after a first date then you’d get their number right? The same rules apply here. You’ve put in all this effort to bring them to the checkout page and finally convert, so make sure you’ve got enough information (phone, email) that you can reach out again later. Of course, this data needs to be ethically collected so customer’s need to give their permission. A great way to do this is by using incentives like ‘Sign up and get $10 off’. This sort of data is invaluable when it comes to retargeting and personalised marketing. Taking the time to integrate your system with a CRM of your choice will always be money well spent.

Investing time and budget into creating or upgrading a website that includes logical and stylish design, matched with functionality is always going to be beneficial. As online shopping becomes the method of choice for many consumers, marketers, will have no choice but to adapt so they can fulfil the demand and keep customers happy. There’s no cookie-cutter solution, but a decent website is a good place to start.

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