Is your business ready for the two biggest shopping days of the year?

Consumers love Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM), no question about it. Retailers, too, since Black Friday typically marks the first day of the year when retail companies go “into the black.” Over the Thanksgiving weekend last year, more than 154 million people went shopping. And according to a National Retail Federation survey, 44% of shoppers reported that they shopped online during that time. Of those individuals who said they shopped online, 74% did so on Black Friday.

 

While you’ve probably already been thinking about promotions and products, you need to make sure your technology can handle the expected customer volume. These tips can help you prepare.

 

1. Get your website in holiday shape

For the first time last year, Black Friday online sales topped $3 billion. BFCM combined brought in more than $6 billion. That total will probably climb again this year. That means if you sell online, your site must be ready for the projected boom.

Although it would take a major onslaught of traffic to actually crash your site, you still need to double check that it’s performing well and doesn’t take too long to load. Otherwise, you’ll lose business. Sites like Pingdom, GTmetrix and Verizon’s own internet speed test can help you test your website’s speed.

Be sure that slow speeds aren’t an issue for you and your employees either. When you’re handling a rush of customer emails and online orders, you need speed.

One option: fiber internet. This type of internet is the only one in market that can give you fast upload and download speeds up to 500 Mbps—1 Gig in some areas—so you can take great care of shoppers.

Don’t underestimate the importance of upload speed. As a business owner, you will be sending info as often as you will be downloading it. Equal speeds will make work easier.

 

2. Make your site mobile friendly

More than $2 billion in BFCM revenue came from mobile traffic alone last year, setting yet another record for these two days. That number is expected to be even higher this year.

To accommodate the increase, your website must use responsive design and be mobile friendly so it’s easy for shoppers to navigate no matter what device they’re on.

This’s true even if you don’t have an online store—shoppers search for brick-and-mortar stores on their smartphones and tablets about as much as they shop online.

Keep these best practices in mind to ensure a mobile-friendly design:

  • Make sure your site loads quickly.
  • Keep menus short and simple.
  • Include photos that are big enough to see clearly on a small device.
  • Use cybersecurity controls and let customers know that you do.
  • Streamline checkout so shoppers don’t have to fill out a lot of forms.
  • Be sure any email you send out is optimized for mobile devices.

You can also watch this webinar for more great tips on responding to the mobile shopping trend.

 

3. Draw customers in with a door-buster deal

Follow the lead of the big-box stores and offer a great deal on a popular product. Don’t deeply discount too many things—you still need to make a profit.

But if you start creating buzz around your door-buster item now with social media and email promotions, you can pull more people in to buy regularly priced products as well.

Be sure your internet connection is fast enough that you can quickly load images and files related to your door-buster product and quickly respond to customers online. This may be a good time to upgrade to a fiber-optic connection to make sure you can keep up with your customers’ needs.

 

4. Don’t leave customers hanging

Whether you offer a door-buster product or have a great sale on a few items, be ready for an influx of calls. Shoppers will want to see if your products are still available, and you don’t want lousy phone service to chase them away.

If you don’t have a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system, consider upgrading. With VoIP, your phone service is through the internet, and you can have your phone calls follow you—ringing on both your office and mobile phone, for instance.

That way, customers don’t have to leave messages. Instead, you can take care of them right away.

VoIP can also save you money with unlimited local and long-distance calling, and it’s easy to add lines as you need to. You can get discounts on VoIP when you bundle with other services such as fast fiber internet.

 

5. Equip your brickand-mortar store with tech

Arm your sales reps with tablets or smartphones and make sure your Wi-Fi network can handle heavy traffic. With this extra tech, your sales reps can easily check inventory if customers have questions.

If you’re using a point-of-sale system, clerks can check people out on the shop floor, easing long lines at the register.

You may also want to consider creating a mobile app that customers can download to get discounts, coupons, and loyalty rewards so customers keep coming back to your store even after they’ve finished holiday shopping.

BFCM is a critical kickoff to the retail season. Make sure technology problems don’t slow you down.

A Verizon Fios connection can give you the speed you need to take care of customers fast.

 


*Griffith, Eric. “The Fastest ISPs of 2017,” PCMag, June 2, 1027. https://www.pcmag.com/article/353936/the-fastest-isps-of-2017

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