How can an e-commerce business survive the holiday madness?

How can an e-commerce business survive the holiday madness?

October 13, 2019

In less than a month, millions of Thanksgiving turkeys will grace banquets and signal the much-awaited Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping bonanzas.

With price slashes often too good to resist, bargain hunters are expected to flood every brick-and-mortar store and e-commerce business’ website. People will also be reaching out to brands’ customer service channels to seek assistance with their purchases, billing, and technical concerns.

Businesses must suit up to face the onslaught of shoppers on one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year.

Cyber Week in numbers

tiny shopping cart with packages on laptop on e-commerce website
In 2018, Black Friday brought in a record $6.2 billion in online revenues while Thanksgiving Day itself pulled in a hefty $3.7 billion. According to Adobe Analytics, Cyber Monday 2018 set bigger record-breaking earnings of $7.9 billion from e-commerce spending—a 19.3% increase from 2017.

Cyber Week statistics compiled by BigCommerce indicates that 53% of total Cyber Week orders came in from mobile channels such as smartphones and tablets. The online source usage was as follows: desktop (47%), mobile phones (45%), and tablet (8%), with web stores driving in more than 50% higher average order value than other sales channels, including branded e-commerce sites such as Amazon, eBay, and Facebook.

Horrors versus reality

If anything, these numbers don’t necessarily mean a big payday for every retailer. Black Friday horror stories aren’t urban legends; things can get vicious because bargain hunters are relentless.

e-commerce entrepreneur on phones in dark office

Expecting the unexpected will help brands prepare for the holiday sales—from website crashes and massive spikes in customer support queues to product supply failing to meet demands.

If brands don’t prepare, then they’re bound to fall flat. They risk losing multiple business opportunities, denting their credibility and reputation, and losing the customers’ trust. Brands need to beef up their practices, products, and processes to remain on top every year.

Be motivated by what your competition is doing right and take a closer look at your processes and customer base.

Here are some important things to do before Black Friday and Cyber Monday arrive.

    happy e-commerce team looking at post it notes
  1. Make a list—and check it twice. List down issues you predict may come up based on previous scenarios on your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.
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  3. Study your customers. Assess available data to determine common customer pain points, favored support channels, and other valuable details. When you listen to your customers, it s easier to come up with useful solutions to fit their ever-changing needs.
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  5. Survey the Cyber Week field. Brands must always be on the lookout for what the customers are exploring. Ecommerce businesses can track and pull up the hits and searches they receive, enabling them to address potential server shutdowns due to heavy traffic or long customer service queues.
     
    Social listening and having a detailed understanding of your customer base can give you an approximation of what Cyber Week could drag to your front door.
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  7. Amp up your defenses. A few questions to ask yourself :
    • Do you have enough people to cater to your expected customer queues?
    • Can your customer service channels, ecommerce site, and app handle the influx of traffic?
    • Are you equipped to handle third party outages, such as your payment processors errors?

     
    If you have no concrete, data-backed responses for any of these questions, it s best to add a few more items on your Step 1 checklist.

  8. https://www.openaccessbpo.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/diverse-customer-support-working-for-a-call-center-e-commerce-site.jpg

     

  9. Set expectations. Marketing and promotions could go any direction, and brands may end up overselling and giving the customers unrealistic expectations. Always make sure you can readily provide what you promised, within reasonable means.
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  11. Strengthen your first line of customer support defense. Cascade information and changes effectively to all employees involved. When the right information reaches the appropriate people, they can serve customers better and increase satisfaction for your brand.
     
    Another way of reinforcing your customer support strategy is by setting up an auto-response system and template for live chat requests, phone calls.
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  13. Reach out and outsource. You don t need to bear the full weight of Black Friday and Cyber Monday to consider outsourcing your customer service or back office solutions. When running an ecommerce business, you need all the help you can get from reputable partners who can see you through holiday shopping madness or sustain your already stellar reputation.

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