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What retailers should expect from Black Friday, Cyber Monday 2021

Wondering what to expect from this year’s Black Friday – Cyber Monday (BFCM) shopping season?

I dive into this topic on the Commerce Tea podcast, hosted by Kelly Vaugn and Rhian Butler. We talked about five ways retailers of all sizes can prepare for BFCM.

5 Ways To Prep For Black Friday & Cyber Monday

We discussed how merchants are preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year. It’s one unlike any in recent memory. The pandemic has touched all parts of our lives, and it has powerfully affected retailers.

If you’ve seen the word “supply chain” in headlines lately, it’s because the world is struggling to get goods from point A to point B. Everything from limited supplies of raw materials to shipping container issues—the things we often take for granted because we can’t see them—have made it harder to secure what we ordered.

So what are retailers to do? Shipping issues notwithstanding, there are pragmatic steps retailers can take to prepare for the upcoming holiday crunch. That includes cleaning up email lists, upsizing server capacity, and going above and beyond to communicate with your customers.

Kelly emphasized the importance of building relationships with customers, which is especially critical because of the growing importance of zero-party data.

Take small, intentional steps

It’s time to check on that email list you’ve been neglecting. Run engagement campaigns. Ensure that DMs can be used for transactions and conversations. Increase your server capacity. Optimize your website and checkout experience—before the holiday rush commences.

If you’re a retailer with a physical footprint, prepare for a return to in-person shopping

Just as people have been eating at restaurants and traveling with renewed gusto, so too will shoppers flock to in-person retailers, to make up for the experiences they missed last year. Ensure that your in-person experience is as smooth, engaging, and safe as possible.

People will be waiting in line. Find ways to make the wait worth it

The pandemic isn’t over, which means stores will have to limit in-person capacity. And that means lines. Because we know that people will be made to wait, we can also make waiting engaging, interesting, and maybe even enjoyable. It’s time to get creative with what happens outside your store, not just inside it.

Zero-party data is the future, so start laying the groundwork now

Retailers are restricted in tracking customer behavior, but you can start gathering data on your customers now—by way of quizzes, surveys, and single sign-on checkouts. That allows you to segment and personalize without running afoul of any rules or regulations, and it means you can maintain a strong link to customers well after they’ve left your store.

Own the shipping delays

The shipping container shortage won’t be solved overnight. It will likely throw a wrench in ecommerce and retail operations throughout the world during this busy season. Here, an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure. If you know your customers are likely to face delays, how can you manage for that? What creative solutions can help to mitigate the ill-effects of supply chain shocks? Consider things like gift cards and special discounts as a way of addressing inventory and distribution issues. And at a minimum, over-communicate, so that customers know well in advance that there’s a new set of challenges in the season ahead..

These thoughts on the upcoming BFCM shopping season were taken from my conversation with the Commerce Tea podcast. Listen to the full episode here!

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