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After BFCM: A retailers guide to gearing up for 2021

Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BCFM) are undoubtedly, singularly the most wonder-stressful period of the whole year in ecommerce. But now that it is over, and the dust has settled, it merits taking a step back to review your performance and strategies - and to gear up for the year ahead.

The BCFM period is always a shopping frenzy. As the smoke clears in the aftermath, ideally you should be in a situation where you have less product in stock and more profit sitting in bank accounts.

The question is… what now?

Maybe you’ve spent the last few months getting ready for the busiest shopping days of the year. Or maybe you went into overdrive in the preceding couple of weeks for last-minute preparations.

Either way, most retailers have been so focused on BCFM that very little consideration has been given on what to do afterwards. That is precisely what this guide is for.

Here are the seven best ways to get the jump on your 2021 retail strategies and better prepare for the upcoming year, full of its own surprises.

1. Analysing sales data

The value of a sale is not just the price value of the period’s transactions.

One cannot understate the knowledge value that one can learn from the interactions (the data) which one can apply to improving business moving forward:

  • Analyse sales trends to identify product relevance (products that did particularly well) and consider why that might be the case (be it pricing, demand, competition or market strategies).
  • Do the same thing for products that did not sell as well, especially ones that you marketed heavily or expected to sell better. This can help you to not only plan better with suppliers in the upcoming year, but also to improve marketing efforts and knowledge of where to focus future product development efforts.
  • Review how product demand is affecting your inventory and product availability. If appropriate, reach out to your suppliers to discuss issues from their end, and ways to improve things for next year or as the holiday season continues.

For most brands, the peak shopping time of the year (BFCM) provides great sales data you can use for the rest of the holiday season, and into the new year.

On the surface, your sales data from BCFM shows which products are in most demand. Your bestsellers. You may have already guessed which ones they are, but surprises often happen. Enough to warrant regularly checking the data, and making it a habit.

If the data collection and analysis is too cumbersome for you or your team, maybe consider changing your analytics software to something more user-friendly.

2. Analysing campaign data

Just like with product data, one can assess the performance of marketing efforts too:

  • Which campaigns and strategies worked best, based on the data?
  • Which social media channels produced the highest level of engagement?
  • Which actually converted into sales?

Evaluate the data against the amount of time-cost-value that was invested for each campaign, to better determine your ROI. If a campaign showed only marginal results but took hours to put together, it might be worth reconsidering.

Figure out which marketing channels and methods work best with your target customers. Rather than traffic, look for the sources that send the most conversions - visitors that actually buy something. Depending on which advertising and analytics software you use, this data may be readily available, or you may need to dig through and calculate it yourself.

3. Segment customers

Once again, the answers lie in the data. Taking your customers and dividing them into lists/groups based on similarities (customer segments).

This segmentation allows one to specifically tailor content and campaigns to each group’s likes as well as avoiding non-impact items. This can be particularly useful, especially when powered through email channels and analytics.

You can segment customers in whatever way benefits your brand i.e. demographic, habit, preference, region etc.

4. Follow up

One of the most important, if unused, tips for after BCFM is to follow up with your customers.

Let them know you still appreciate them and their business - especially after they have made payment to you.

The most obvious method is: the Thank You email.

If you have reliable shipping in place, you can also time a Review Request email to when the package is delivered. Online reviews are crucial to ecommerce success, with shoppers trusting peer reviews more than branded descriptions.

Keeping in mind that around 15% of all holiday shopping/spending is for "non-gift purchases". In other words, "gifts for me."

These are the shoppers likely to leave reviews. If you can time your Review Request email to arrive at the same time as the delivery, they will, more often than not, write a review at the time they are happiest and most excited about the product.

Further, you can also follow up with customers by initiating a drip campaign. If you are unfamiliar with the term, a drip campaign is an automated email campaign that sends out prescheduled emails based on pre-set timelines or user actions.

When handled smartly, drip campaigns can rank among the most effective methods for email marketing (especially when combined with the customer segmentation discussed above).

5. Completing a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) audit 

Basically, an SEO audit is like a physical exam with your primary care doctor. It measures your website's overall health and lets you know if you will need to see a specialist for any specific/major issues.

If you are not on the first page of Google search results, you do not exist.

Do not have an existential crisis just yet - SEO can get you there. SEO involves everything from content strategy to competitive analysis to keyword research and beyond. But none of that will pay off if you do not do an SEO audit. It is decidedly less painful than a SARS audit, and it will serve as a foundation for all of your SEO efforts.

6. DO NOT underestimate marketing tech needs

You cannot do lead generation with just one tool. Think about all the different types of platforms one would ideally want to utilise:

  • CRM
  • Marketing automation
  • Website visitor identification
  • Website analytics
  • In-product analytics
  • Social media management
  • Live chat.

And these systems need to work together reliably, triggering actions when required and powering the nurturing funnels. Leveraging Vectra’s Partner Technologies can help you connect all these apps, but the takeaway is that many businesses underestimate the complex mix of tools that they need to gain an edge in lead generation.

There are ways to navigate these complexities but be aware that integrations need attention to get right. If you do not give these tools and the relevant integrations the attention they deserve from the beginning, the complexities will only grow.

7. Online store readiness (optimise and polish)

One of the best approaches to optimising your online store is – surprise! – checking previous data.

We are talking about optimising your site design i.e. fixing bugs, streamlining usability, rewriting text for SEO, and finally adding those expansions on your to-do list.

Your site should be perfect by the time your first holiday shopper arrives, so it is best to start any renovations as soon as possible. If you have a bug list, now's the time to address them. If not, ask your customers for feedback. It is not too late to implement a free survey tool to get feedback directly from visitors.

A holistic, complete 360 solution is imperative for the success of any business in ecommerce. More importantly, it is crucial that these tools are implemented in the right way.

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