Now that November has arrived and the beginning of the Christmas shopping season draws closer, businesses across the globe are hurriedly working to finalize seasonal sales strategies and preparing their inventories and eCommerce storefronts for the two biggest shopping days of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you haven’t already begun preparing your own business for the season, then you need to start your planning immediately.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have been ingrained into society’s psyche as the days of glorious sales. Many shoppers are likely to try and get all, or at least a majority, of their holiday shopping done during those two days and the weekend between them because of the massive savings that can be found. While you may be tempted to forego participating in either day because you don’t want to sell your products at almost bargain-basement level prices, succumbing to that temptation is a fantastic way to impede your business’s growth by an enormous margin. The need to provide alluring discounts doesn’t mean your business will have to suffer monetary losses, at least it won’t if you are adequately prepared.
But Why Bother?
There are two very good reasons why you should take part in Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or both. The first is customer exposure. While Black Friday is dominated by physical shopping at retail stores, Cyber Monday is the domain of online shopping. Regardless of which you decide to prepare for, your business will experience an astronomical amount of customer traffic. Even if each customer visit doesn’t end in a sale, you’ve still gained another valuable asset; that asset being that your business was viewed by another person who could potentially return later or spread the word about your website.
The other reason, which some might argue is the most important reason, is the sheer amount of money spent during these shopping days. According to Search Engine Watch, the total value of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales during 2013 was a combined $2.933 billion, while the entirety of the five day (includes Thanksgiving) “Black Weekend” hauled in over $5.2 billion in sales. If you don’t prepare your business for the opening volley of the holiday shopping season, you’re guaranteed to miss out on a lot of potential profit.
Preparing your eCommerce Site
You’ll need to spend some serious time working on your preparations for the big day. Not only will you need to have your discount plans, advertising strategies, and inventory prepared, you also need to make sure your site’s infrastructure is ready to handle the stress it’ll see from all the traffic. IT Business Edge highly suggests running tests and performing maintenance on your servers, databases, RAM, and all other hardware components well before the big date to ensure everything is functioning properly. Additionally, it would be wise to follow Wired’s advice and prepare some contingency plans in the event of some sort of hardware or software failure.
While getting all your plans ready and making sure all your hardware works is definitely important, there is another critical factor you need to take into account when preparing your website for Cyber Monday. That factor is the aesthetics of your website and the eCommerce template you use.
Even if you’re already using an eCommerce template, there are some excellent reasons for updating it for Cyber Monday and the rest of the Christmas shopping season. The most important reason you should change your template for Cyber Monday is branding. The Huffington Post explains that if you use a Cyber Monday themed template, consumers who visit your site will see the branding and immediately associate it with big sales, prompting them to start digging through your offers. Additionally, it can be a good idea to set up individual landing pages with Cyber Monday branding for any big-ticket items and discounts you’re offering. Plus, if you have a pay-per-click system in place, your conversion rate could skyrocket.
The other big reason to change to a template more seasonally appropriate, as discussed by Digital Operative, is to increase your site’s SEO standing with search engines. Relabeling things for Cyber Monday can help boost your site’s ranking in search results, and a holiday, or at least winter, themed template can help improve your customer’s shopping experience.
Finding the Right Template
While it’s totally possible for you to create custom templates for Cyber Monday and the rest of the holiday season, that requires a significant level of web design and programming proficiency along with a good deal of time investment. Of course, you could also hire a designer or programmer to build one, but there are cheaper alternatives if you’re willing to use a pre-built design. There are a lot of pre-built templates available for you to look through from eCommerce vendors. Some of these will be free while others will require some form of fee payment.
Regardless of which option you choose, it’s imperative that you do spend time looking into a new template for your site. You can pass on the template upgrade if you want, but you’ll be denying your business some significant benefits.