It’s that time of year again. Pumpkin spice lattes are ubiquitous, the grocery store shelves are stacked high with Halloween candy, and that can only mean one thing: Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) is just around the corner.
Even though Black Friday has been around for decades, we’re witnessing a fundamental shift in the biggest shopping weekend of the year, one that creates opportunities for more businesses than ever—including yours, no matter your size or location.
A brief history of BFCM
In the late 50s or early 60s, shopping on the day after American Thanksgiving was already a growing trend. According to some it was around that time police officers in Philadelphia assigned the moniker of “Black Friday,” their goal being to sully the event and discourage people from attending, because the growing crowds had become too much to handle.
The term stuck, but it didn’t deter most from shopping as they had intended, and the event has grown ever since. In later years, retailers even adopted the label for their big seasonal sale in November, and many people now associate Black Friday with businesses’ attempt to get “into the black,” or create a profit, during the holiday rush.
For years, Black Friday was exclusively the domain of door-crasher deals at in-person retail locations.
But over the past decade, a lot has changed.
Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, has become a banner day for online shopping, and the multi-day shopping event has been expanded, not to mention softened, by the additions of Small Business Saturday and Giving Tuesday.
The end result is a four-day opportunity for businesses of all sizes to join in with strategies, plans, and promotions that fit their goals, because success on Black Friday Cyber Monday isn’t just about steep discounts (although a smart discount strategy can certainly help).
And if you’re still on the fence about gearing up for the biggest shopping weekend of the year, let’s take a look back at BFCM 2017 to see how things went for Shopify merchants.
BFCM is for everyone
If there’s one thing we learned from last year, it’s that the banner shopping weekend is no longer solely the domain of US-based retailers. Shopify merchants around the world saw a boost from BFCM weekend, even though they weren’t celebrating Thanksgiving alongside their US counterparts.
At BFCM’s peak in 2017, Shopify merchants were processing over a million dollars in sales every minute. That’s up from a high of $555,716 in 2016, and it resulted in over a billion dollars being sold through Shopify over the four-day period.
What’s more, sales were generated across all product categories, and driven by businesses of all sizes. When it comes to getting a head start on the holiday season, the data proves that there’s plenty of room for small businesses to shine during BFCM.
So no matter where you are or how big your business is, it’s time to start planning.
How to prepare for BFCM
People will be shopping during BFCM, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be shopping at your store. To prepare, it’s time to start thinking about three key things:
- What will you promote or offer this BFCM?
- How will you get the word out?
- What logistics do you need to have in place?
What will you promote?
BFCM is known for deep discounts, but that’s not the only way to get the attention and interest of your ideal customers. In the past, we’ve seen independent businesses run campaigns focused on limited-run products, offering exclusive deals, and giving back to causes they support. No matter your margins or promotion strategy, there’s a place for you to win the attention of your customers during BFCM as they’re starting their holiday shopping.
How will you get the word out?
During BFCM 2017, we saw that email campaigns were the highest-converting marketing channel, but during a sales rush all of your marketing channels matter. How will you leverage email, social, SEO, and paid ads to build your marketing campaign this year? As a starting point, here are five BFCM social media campaigns to learn from, and here’s a similar list of email campaigns to boost your sales.
What logistics are in place?
With every sales event, the dream is a cascade of orders and hearing the sweet sound of a cash register ringing—but once your BFCM orders start rolling in, you still need to get them fulfilled and to their final destination. We’ve got a complete guide to shipping during BFCM, but at a high level, you should be preparing a few key things ahead of time.
- Will you be shipping internationally? With Shopify Shipping, getting started with international shipping isn’t as hard as you’d expect. You could go global this BFCM, but if you do, make sure to have an international shipping strategy in place ahead of time.
- Do you need to stock up on shipping supplies? Whether that’s boxes in the right sizes, or custom materials for your unboxing experience, make sure to get your orders in sooner rather than later so you’re ready for the rush.
What can you expect from Shopify?
Whether it’s your first BFCM or your fifth, each year provides a new opportunity to learn and reach new milestones in your business. Here’s how we can help you sell your personal best this year.
We’ll be completely overhauling the BFCM Toolbox for 2018, and complementing last year’s coverage with more content on how to prepare for and thrive during BFCM weekend. We’ve also recently launched Shopify Academy, which features on-demand courses and live workshops to help you build your business. And if you’re looking for the best place to start, you can’t go wrong with our checklist to prepare for BFCM.
New and updated products and features
Whether it’s streamlining your fulfillment or levelling up your marketing efforts, our team is obsessed with helping you prepare for your best BFCM yet. We have a number of new releases and updates coming your way over the next few months to help you sell more.
Here are a few features and channels we’ve launched since BFCM 2017 that can help you sell your best this year.
Shopping on Instagram
Shopping on Instagram allows you to sell directly on one of the most popular social media platforms out there. You can tag your products in posts and add product stickers to your stories, both of which will let your audience shop directly within Instagram. Learn more about Shopping on Instagram.
Discounts are a big part of BFCM, and it’s even easier than ever to set them up in Shopify. You can set up a Buy One, Get One offer for your customers, or get creative with quantity-based discounts. Once your discount is set up, you can use a shareable discount link to make it even easier for your customers to redeem their offer, and monitor each discount’s performance. Set up a discount now.
Shopify Ping brings customer conversations, marketing workflows, and more together in a single mobile app. Spend less time switching between apps to manage your different tasks, and more time on what matters most: serving your customers and growing your business. Learn more about Shopify Ping.
Whether you’re running email campaigns in Mailchimp or Facebook ads using Kit, Shopify’s Marketing Activity Reports (which you’ll find under Analytics in the left hand navigation) will show you how your marketing activities are performing throughout BFCM, so you can do more of what’s working, and less of what’s not. Find out more about Marketing Analytics.
It’s time to gear up for BFCM 2018
With just over two months to go before the biggest shopping weekend of the year is upon us, the time to start thinking about your plans—and taking steps to make them happen—is right now. We’ll be here every step of the way, with resources, support, features, and advice as you need it.