In my September newsletter, I made some recommendations on optimisations and features that can help to maximise the peak through Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as well as post Cyber Weekend demand uplift. The following suggestions are things we’ve done before or things that we’ve seen work from working with various different clients across Europe and North America.

Gifting features in the checkout process

Over the last few months, I’ve had feedback forms on a number of our clients’ sites and the most common request (across all but one) was gifting options in the checkout process. The most common one referenced was gift messaging, but also the ability to remove the invoice. There were a few comments around gift wrapping, but far fewer and the overhead for achieving gift wrapping is much higher. This is an easy win for those that don’t offer gift messaging and a gifting option through the checkout.

In an ideal world, you’d also allow for delivery / shipping to multiple addresses (depending on the type of business you are / product you sell) to allow for those buying gifts for multiple people and also corporate gifting (which is huge for those selling hampers, alcohol, common gifts generally etc).

Performance quick wins & optimisations

Investing in the speed of core areas of your site is a no-brainer these days, with clear benefits in both SEO and UX. Quick wins in performance could range from optimising your theme, upgrading your server & infrastructure, removing non-performant code and third parties, introducing a CDN (such as Cloudflare) or signing up to something like Yottaa (for optimising third-party JS). You should also be looking to allocate a proportion of your development retainer to performance going into key trading periods, just as good practice. We’d also suggest involving your hosting provider in this, depending on your setup and platform.

This is a key area that’s worth optimising pre-peak if you can.

Segment and target BFCM & sale customers

Segmenting customers who have only ever purchased during promotion can be a really effective tactic during peak promotions, allowing you to also serve them with pure sale and CTA led messaging. Focusing on % off etc has worked better for us historically. You may also want to segment this by purchase window. For customers who purchased last year and more than a year ago it might be worth using higher impact formats to grab attention (Instagram stories, collection ads, instant experiences etc).

Multi-buy options on (relevant) products

Another thing we’ve been focused on a lot recently has been increasing basket size and AOV – with offering the ability to buy packs and multiples being a really good addition to PDPs to support this. This implementation from Beer Hawk is a very good example. It’s well worth tracking this via Google Analytics, but for the right options (and ideally some form of incentive) I would expect this to perform really well.

Optimise up-sells

Post add to cart up-sells can be one of the most efficient ways to increase revenue, when done currently with a considered relationship and proposition. Accessory up-sells, subscription up-sells, bundle up-sells and even just standard ‘frequently bought together’ up-sells should be optimised going into peak. 

I would recommend looking at manually curating any really good up-sell opportunities (e.g. key accessories for important products) and creating a really strong proposition for products likely to sell well. Another one you could look to test is promo up-sells on the order confirmation page, which can perform really well.

If you want to look at a third party to drive this, we’d suggest looking at the following:

  • Rebuy – Shopify only
  • NOSTO – broader, but still a very good solution
  • – lower cost, but still very feature-rich

Introduce ‘notify me when back in stock

This is something that a lot of people will already have, however, if you don’t, due to increased demand, it’s a good thing to try and add pre-peak. Although there’s an argument that the associated out of stock items won’t be available during peak, this can be a big revenue driver and a good source of customer data. Ideally, you’ll also have the option to opt-in as part of this.

Plan paid activity around stock

This is an important one that often gets missed by performance marketing agencies and teams (and is more prevalent during peak activity), particularly in fashion. If you’re pushing products via search, shopping or social, make sure you have the key variants available – for example, if you’re selling a shirt and your most popular sizes are small and medium, if these are out of stock you should really reduce bids or pause activity. 

The same principle applies to category merchandising as well – I’d suggest creating internal reporting around low stock items before you go into peak.

Test new marketing channels

Due to the increase in both demand and conversion rates, BFCM represents a good opportunity to try new channels, particularly if you’re struggling to increase activity on other channels. SMS marketing is a big one that lots of retailers are doing more with currently and there are lots of vendors for SMS that allow for very specific activity. You can then segment customers as you would with standard CRM activity. I would also suggest leveraging Facebook / Instagram as part of CRM campaigns and activity. 

Other things you could potentially test (assuming you’ve maxed out other key channels) going into peak could include TikTok, Pinteresting, Bing, international channels etc.

Optimise your search function for peak

Ensure that you’ve merchandised your search results so that products that are likely to be in high demand are very prominent and all associated queries are well optimised with product etc. We’d generally suggest (for those with a good third party search solution) that teams spend at least an hour optimsing the ordering of products in search results going into peak.

If you’re not using a strong technology provider here, we work mostly with Klevu, but others also include Algolia and SearchSpring.

Introduce price match CTA on PDP 

This would ideally be personalised to users from Google Shopping or other price-sensitive sources, but this can be a really good way of increasing conversion rates, in the right scenario. Again, you’d ideally encourage marketing opt in as part of a form here to capture more customer data.

Set expectations around delivery

This is more important around peak, but it’s also a good practice generally. Ideally this would be on PDP onwards with an estimated date.

Make sure you have all key payment options for your customers

This is another quick win, via offering relevant options to your customers – e.g. Klarna, ApplePay, Sofort (Germany), iDeal (Netherlands) etc. We’d suggest reviewing the key markets you’re trading in and looking to ensure you have all key payment methods. Depending on price-point, testing consumer finance could also be one to consider.

Test different data capture approaches

Because of the increased levels of traffic, data capture is more important at this time of year – we’d suggest testing different approaches and formats pre peak to ensure you’re getting the best possible rates during the weekend.

Make sure your site is optimised for marketing opt-ins

Often one to work on with a lawyer, but we’d suggest trying to really optimise opt-in rates as much as possible pre-peak – with a view to getting the highest possible percentage of users opted in pre checkout, through the checkout and whilst using any key form-based aspects of the site (e.g. back in stock, contact forms etc).

These are just a few examples of things we usually suggest to clients, feel free to add others in the comments below.