Our Black Friday checklist for online retailers

By October 27, 2016 No Comments

It is almost upon us.

The Black Friday and holiday shopping rush.

There are the obvious ways online retailers prepare, such as creating new offers, developing ad creative and launching Black Friday landing pages.

In and around all the inventory, discounts and promos, have you taken the time to make sure you’re delivering a seamless customer experience? In this post we’re looking at some easy quality assurance checks and upgrades anyone can do to make sure the holiday sales come in without a hitch.

Pre-Black-Friday quality assurance tips

Photo: Shoppers encased in amber by Michael Davis-Burchat

It’s late October. In other words, now is not the time for a website overhaul. Instead, let’s focus on the projects that are within a marketing manager’s scope to carry out successfully in a few hours. These are (mostly) your DIY projects and won’t require intervention from either the coders who take care of your website or even a designer. That said, we recommend you carry out the first two projects on this list right away, just in case you need a more technical hand with anything that arises.

1. Test your shopping cart and checkout

It’s extremely important to test your website’s checkout prior to the big Black Friday rush. In fact, we suggest you do it now and again 24 hours before the sales kick in. Go through your entire checkout process, step by step and more than once. Make sure everything is working seamlessly — from add to cart, to checkout, to your confirmation emails. Get any bugs into the queue immediately. And then make some noise so they get fixed lickety split.

2. Check your site’s status in Google Search Console

When was the last time you checked out your site in Google Search Console? Previously known as Webmaster Tools, Search Console a simple tool that shows you what Google sees when it indexes your website. Check it regularly to gather actionable information that can help your website rank higher in the Google search results.

Do a little diagnostic: log into Search Console (or add your site) and:

  • Ask Google to crawl your site by going to Crawl > Fetch as Google
  • Check Crawl Errors to see if Google is having difficulties crawling your site
  • Take a peek at Security Issues to check for any vulnerabilities Google has noticed

If stuff comes up, talk with your IT folks to see if these problems can be easily fixed before things start to get busy.

3. Test all your discounts and coupon codes

It seems obvious, but a simple typo or misconfigured coupon code can wreak havoc on your Black Friday momentum. You do not want be running around fixing broken things when you should be fulfilling orders. If you’re configuring discounts directly in your ecommerce platform or software, test and test again to be sure everything tallies up correctly. And while you’re at it, run a purchase with every single live coupon code you’re sharing during the busy season. Time spent now will mean time spared later if something isn’t working like it should.

4. Clean up your email marketing lists

Sometimes we procrastinate when it comes to tidying up our email marketing lists. If you are sending promotional emails to announce pre-holiday deals and other good things, it simply makes good business sense to send to your cleanest, best segmented lists. In early November, take the time to clean out all your bounced email addresses. And while you’re at it, identify and segment out any subscribers who haven’t responded for a long time.

An early dive into your contact lists will also help identify any new segments that may respond well to targeted offers and messages. Those non-responsive subscribers we mentioned above? Give them their own segment, and send them an extra sexy Black Friday offer.

It’s also a good idea to make sure your email marketing lists and content are up to date with the latest anti-spam regulations. No one wants to get blacklisted during the most profitable time of the year.

5. Give new customers a welcoming experience

Chances are, Black Friday and the holiday shopping season will bring you some brand spanking new customers. You have a huge opportunity here to bring these customers into the fold and convert them into returning customers. Make a plan now for how you are going to retain them. Be sure, even during the busiest time, that you are delivering the best possible customer experience. And when new customers subscribe to your newsletter list, bring them into the fold with a juicy welcome email and offer.

Make it your best season yet

There is so much more you could do to make sure you have the best ever Black Friday and holiday shopping season. Most of the tips above come under the umbrella of quality control. Make sure now, weeks before the busy season kicks in, that you are delivering a consistently qualitative experience to your customers. If you know up front that everything is running tickety-boo, your team will be better equipped to deliver a magical customer experience when things get busy.

Please wait...

Author Chrystian Guy

More posts by Chrystian Guy