Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner and if you haven’t already, now is the time to finalize your marketing, branding, and seasonal sales plans. It’s no secret that this year will be a bit different, with many merchants experiencing unpredictable shipping timelines and supply chain issues, but BFCM is the perfect time to dial in on your brand’s identity and really connect with your customers.

Read on to discover some of the things that should be top-of-mind when you’re planning for this year’s holiday shopping season and where opportunity for improvement lies. 

Tell your brand’s story

Now more than ever, customers are craving a more personal connection with the brands they love. Your products are still important of course, but customers want to truly understand and identify with the company they are buying from.

Ask yourself: Why should your customers buy from your online store versus your competitors’? What makes your brand uniquely relatable? Some top ecommerce brands, like Sassy Jones, have been letting their audiences behind the scenes throughlive video streams of their warehouse, in which their own CEO is pitching in and helping to package orders. Lean into what makes your brand human and make it your focus for your BFCM marketing.

Consider a charitable aspect

Studies have shown that people don’t mind paying a little bit extra for a product if it benefits a charity or cause in some way. If it fits your company ethos, why not donate some of your proceeds to a movement that you really believe in? You can weave the initiative into your brand storytelling and shout from the digital marketing rooftops that when customers shop your online store, they can feel good about where their dollar is going. 

If you can’t decide which cause to get involved with, consider who your ideal customer is and where their values lie. Are you selling home goods? A charity that fights homelessness in your community might be a good fit. In the tools or construction industry? Causes that help build infrastructure in underdeveloped countries would make sense. 

Be clear about shipping expectations and costs

This year it has been tricky for ecommerce merchants to keep up with demand for products while dealing with supply chain shutdowns. As tempting as it may be to fudge the truth about delivery times in order to keep holiday shoppers interested, your customers absolutely need the truth when it comes to product supply and shipping expectations. Trust between merchant and buyer is the most important thing when it comes to making sales, and if one person feels they’ve been taken advantage of, word travels very quickly in today’s connected world. Honesty really is the best policy. 

If you’re anticipating an increase in shipping costs this Black Friday, consider working them into the prices of your products to reduce sticker shock and abandoned carts when your customer hits the checkout. It’s been proven that online shoppers would rather pay more for a product than have to fork over cash for shipping fees. 

If your production or shipping timelines are lagging, be transparent by clearly stating it on product pages and throughout the checkout process so shoppers can then make an informed decision. Not only will this positively impact your sales and customer satisfaction, it will also ultimately cut down on your customer service requests. 

Double down on your customer support

A lot of BFCM shoppers are making purchases for the holiday season and therefore need to know that they will be receiving their orders on time and that their purchases will be what they expect. If they have been burned by shipping delays already during the pandemic, it’s understandable that they might need some assurance from your customer support team in order to convert. 

The huge increase in online shopping traffic means there are a lot of people now shopping online who might not have done so before. These shoppers might be unsure about the process or have security questions and will likely need some hand-holding to make a purchase. 

In the upcoming months, making sure your customers feel heard should be a top priority. Respond to customer email and social media messages promptly. If you anticipate slight delays in getting back to customer inquiries, be up front about it and give customers a timeline for when they will hear back from you. If you have the bandwidth, you might even consider adding a live chat function to your store to help answer quick questions and coach customers towards a purchase in real-time. 

Run sales that make sense for your inventory

It’s true that, generally speaking, BFCM shoppers are looking for deals. In years past, it might have made sense to run sales that would help clear out your inventory but this BFCM, keep with the sustainability of your business in mind. If you clear out your inventory during BFCM, will you be able to restock for the holidays and beyond? Your supply chain might become strained in the near future and that’s something you should plan for. 

If you’d rather stay away from steep discounts, offer different deals like free shipping, minimum order discounts, or exclusive access sales for your email subscribers. 

Make your mobile experience great

If it’s not already, your online store needs to be optimized for mobile shopping. There’s just no two ways about it. The popularity of mobile ecommerce, or m-commerce, since the pandemic began has skyrocketed and most consumers expect to be able to shop on mobile devices just as easily as they do on desktops. In fact, mobile shopping is growing more quickly than online shopping as a whole.

Make this your best BFCM yet

Use this BFCM to work on your storytelling and making meaningful connections with your customers. Through customer support and honest marketing you might find that you gain more loyal customers in the end, and have dialed-in branding that will carry you right through the holiday season and beyond.