Enjoy your best 4TH QUARTER yet with the right preparation

Fourth-quarter earnings make or break many in retail, and e-commerce is consuming more of the spoils. Last year, e-commerce accounted for 25% of consumer spending – a significant increase. In the U.S. Black Friday sales totalled $5 billion! How can you ready your small business? Understand and act on the changes in consumer expectations and behaviour in regard to scoring deals during November and December.

Last year marked a shift from Black Friday is about a day or two. It’s becoming a long-weekend event, starting on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Nov. 22 in the U.S., and going through Cyber Monday. There are additional “big days” shoppers look forward to now such as Free Shipping Day, Dec. 18 and Green Monday, Dec. 10.

In fact, more and more shoppers are browsing and buying as soon as Halloween is over.

Make it Mobile
It’s reported 53% of online sales on Thanksgiving Day last year were made on mobile devices. That’s a trend that cannot be ignored by small business. Many websites have an easy-to-navigate purchase process that does not transfer well to mobile. Now’s the time to up your mobile game.

Your home page should be fully dedicated to Black Friday on Thanksgiving and Friday, shifting to Cyber Monday promotions over the weekend and all-out Cyber Monday deals on Nov. 26. Mobile is fast, but shoppers are also quick to abandon carts on mobile, so again, adjust the user experience if necessary.

Make Sure All Systems are a Go
The boom in e-commerce sales was impressive last year, but the numbers could have actually been better. Retailers report website crashes every year, costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s worth the time and investment over the next month to shore up your online systems, especially front-end capacity.

It’s also a good idea to have tech support on stand-by starting on Black Friday and train staff how to interface with support if there’s a crisis. Maintenance should take place during overnight hours.

Marketing Tips
Analysts report most retailers will start advertising Black Friday deals 10 days prior to Nov. 22. Now is a good time to solicit honest feedback about your website. Is it easy to navigate? Is the purchase process time-consuming?

Customer inboxes are inundated with Black Friday deals, so be sure yours stands out with personalized offers based on their previous buying history. Otherwise, it’s likely your e-mail will be ignored.

Google’s Structured Data is an excellent source for improving your SEO, and if you haven’t implemented a multichannel marketing strategy, do so but be consistent with your sales message, whether it’s on Facebook, your website, Instagram or other media.

And finally, if you plan to be “open for business” online on Thanksgiving, experts advise not waiting until the following week to fulfill orders: Cyber Monday will keep you busy enough!