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10 ways to streamline your online shopping experience for Black Friday

01st September 2020

Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year. But this year things are a little different; according to research by ONS most UK shoppers will avoid the high street this year, in favour of online stores. Plus, the effects of the global pandemic have driven customers to buy more online. In fact, according to Covid Commerce Insight, online retail in the UK surpassed 150% year-on-year revenue growth during the height of the pandemic in April. This month the figure has settled on 100%. Ecommerce, unlike other areas of the economy, has been thriving. And for ecommerce marketers, that’s a big opportunity not to be missed. Especially with the holiday season coming up.

So what does an increase in online traffic mean for Black Friday?

Consumers will be doing the majority of their shopping online. So, brands need to prepare for the increased traffic on their site and ensure that the online shopping experience is up to scratch.

A lot of this depends on how well your marketing and IT teams work together. Because customers won’t wait around if a product page doesn’t load or if they’re stuck at the checkout. It’s a super-busy period and consumers have plenty of choice. Sure, your products and discounts might be amazing; but your website design and checkout process might be hurting your conversion rates – spurring users to head straight to your competitors. Simplicity and ease are key. Even things like guest checkout and flexible payment options – all help drive conversion rates, which is essential during the Black Friday weekend.

Let’s take a look at 10 ways you can make your online shopping process easy for customers:

1.Offer guest checkout
According to dotdigital research in global ecommerce report Hitting the Mark, 20% of brands still don’t offer a guest checkout. For consumers, it’s annoying to create a customer account most of the time. During the run-up to Black Friday, consumers’ patience is at rock bottom, so compelling them to create an account might backfire. One of the most effective and simple ways to avoid them dropping off is offering them to check out quicker, as a guest.

2. Introduce flexible payment options
Providing customers with easy payment options is another great way to make the online shopping experience easy. Payment platforms like Klarna help your customers get what they want today but pay for it later. Afterpay is another option too. Customers can either pay in a lump sum later or in instalments. Whatever suits them.

3. Help out with live chat
Live chat is a no-brainer when it comes to frictionless online shopping experiences. Having your agents on hand to answer any customer queries helps maximize customer experience. Sometimes, this level of service makes or breaks the sale. Live chat is also an awesome way to talk to live site visitors, promote your products, and upsell. You can even prompt users to sign-up to your email newsletter. The best thing about live chat is that it’s personal but not too in-your-face. In fact, most consumers expect live chat to be available on site as an easy way to get in touch with the brand. Consumers are looking for immediate answers to their questions; anything less could delay the purchase or worse.

4. Send transactional email
Order confirmations should be instantaneous; if they’re not, it can really dampen the customer experience. Why? Because it puts doubt in the customer’s mind as to whether they made the purchase or not. Make sure all your transactional emails are speedy and informative; communicate order details clearly and set expectations with regards to dispatch and delivery. This makes the customer’s online shopping experience first-class.

5. Pepper your site with social proof
The power of the crowd can rouse audiences, pique interest, and ultimately drive more purchases. Friction in the online shopping experience doesn’t have to be about process – it can be about credibility, or lack of. Scant social proof can become a barrier to sale. Reviews and testimonials always add credibility to your products. Providing this type of content on your homepage and product pages will help direct users along the path to purchase. Did you know that nine in 10 consumers say that a review is as important as a personal recommendation? Make sure you’re highlighting your social proof as much as possible – and even more so during Black Friday.

6. Product recommendations sell
Product recommendations should be in the marketing arsenal of every ecommerce merchant. While only 7% of users click on them, they drive a sensational 24% of orders and 26% of sales revenue (Salesforce, 2019). The reason for this is that product recommendations are super-relevant, and they make the online shopping experience hassle-free. No need to browse for what you’re looking for when it’s right in front of you, no?

Serving users with bestsellers and trending items gives them a flavour of what other people are buying and prompts them to browse further. Plus, if you really want to drive context and generate more revenue, you can use AI-driven product recommendations – showcasing ‘best next’ or ‘lookalike’ products – for existing customers. These are unique to the user’s last purchase, based on what similar customers went on to purchase next, plus products with similar attributes.

7. Adopt an omnichannel approach
We’ve already covered live chat and email, but there’s an array of other channels at your disposal. SMS is one channel that delivers the best engagement rates – a 98% read rate in under five minutes. Using this channel with email and live chat means you’ll be improving the online shopping experience on Black Friday, with a choice of touchpoints. SMS is an awesome, direct way of informing customers about your offers and deals. They can then head to your site to browse on mobile (most customer journeys start of mobile) and then purchase on desktop when they’re ready. And like email, SMS can be used to send short, informative order updates like dispatch notes.

Check out this SMS white paper for 10 effective broadcast and transactional SMS examples.

8. Wish list and stock updates
Wish lists are an ecommerce must. Because Black Friday is a great excuse to reach out to customers who have a wish list and nudge them to redeem your amazing discounts. You might find that customers are building their Christmas wish lists in preparation for Black Friday – they’re a great tool for users to plan their shopping. Likewise, stock updates are super-important during the Black Friday period. If a user is browsing your site and spots something they like, but it’s out of stock, add a call to action to notify them when it’s available again. These reminders are contextual and relevant, and could mean big money on Black Friday.

9. Trigger abandoned cart campaigns
The global cart abandonment rate on Black Friday 2019 was 74%. That’s 74% extra revenue you’re missing out on during Black Friday. The best way to recoup some of this lost revenue is through cart recovery campaigns. And during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend bonanza, these campaigns can add substantially to your bottom line. Once a browsing shopper has abandoned their cart, send them a timely nudge an hour later reminding them to check out. It’s best practice to send between one and three reminders, from an hour up to three days after the cart abandonment. You can even include an incentive, on top of your Black Friday discount, to try and prompt the customer to complete their order – such as free shipping for instance.

10. Perfect the post-purchase experience
Marketers should add as much value post-purchase as they can; it’s one of the most effective ways to retain your Black Friday customers for the whole year.

  • Start by saying thanks – a simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way. Remind customers of your returns policy and provide contact details in case they need to get in touch about their order.
  • Help the customer get the most out of their new product with helpful, value-add content. Inspirational tips and advice can round-off the experience and keep your brand front of mind.
  • Ask for a review. This point is super-important because it builds your social proof and makes your brand look stronger and more credible – for the next Black Friday and across the whole year. Maybe offer customers a voucher to say thank you and incentivise them to purchase again.

Use the above checklist to identify any online issues that may impact customers – before they become too critical. Making sure your site and marketing communications are fit for purpose, for the biggest sales day of the year, will help you maximise customer action and sales revenue. For some more holiday inspiration, check out these 8 awesome tips on how to smash your Black Friday sales this year.