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Shopify BFCM checklist & strategy for 2024

Lesley Nolan profile picture

Lesley Nolan

Dec 15, 2023


Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) are among the most significant shopping days in the United States. As Q3 winds down, the retail world prepares to make the most of the holiday rush. Holiday shopping trends show that the excitement around BFCM is only increasing.

Prepare for Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Holiday rush anxiety? I get it! I’ve seen it all over multiple holiday seasons, for brands large and small. Currently, I oversee merchandising for almost 50 direct-to-consumer Shopify stores at OpenStore. OpenStore’s go-to BFCM marketing strategies are developed specially for Shopify stores, and they can help you avoid common e-commerce problems during the holidays, such as:

  • Spikes in website traffic leading to Shopify site, tool, or app crashes.

  • Inventory shortages due to unexpected demand.

  • Strained customer service with a surge in queries and complaints.

  • Delivery and logistical challenges, especially with shipping.

BFCM checklist: 38 ideas

Being ready to adapt to unforeseen changes in e-commerce is always a good idea. Preparing adequately is critical.

We at OpenStore will be using this BFCM checklist for the almost 50 Shopify stores that we manage for the 2024 holiday season, and recommend that you do too!

Merchandising strategy

  1. Create a plan early. Start today! Gather data and insights from past performance to help inform your forecast. Industry benchmarks and trends can be helpful signals on where to focus.

  2. Drive the urgency of your BFCM deals. Use tools such as countdown clocks, limited quantity offers and inventory sell-through displays.

  3. Create gift guides to streamline the shopping experience and showcase your best holiday products. Promote them on your blog and socials.

  4. Plan consistent messaging across all channels, including email, SMS, app push notifications, paid social, and search. Adapt your SMS and email marketing strategy for Black Friday and kick off promotions early with emails to tease promotions, personalized shopping guides for existing customers, and cart abandonment automations.

  5. Check your closest competitors, pay attention to how they communicate and execute promotions and build excitement within their community. Check their websites for new tracking scripts, apps, and plugins.

  6. Don’t forget about Cyber Monday, which is a great opportunity to surface great offers for customers who want to shop from the comfort of their own home. 

  7. Ensure core and evergreen products are in stock. These are the products that drive an outsized portion of your revenue. You’ll want to feature these across the storefront and in marketing channels, so make sure you have the product in-stock & available to purchase.

  8. Have a contingency plan for items that go out of stock. Let’s face it:we can never be 100% accurate in our inventory planning. Plan to offer substitutions or alternative products to customers.

  9. Introduce new products in Q4 to increase basket size. This can help preserve your margins in the face of discounts, and give new or existing customers another reason to visit your store.

Marketing ideas for Black Friday

  1. Start marketing early, since marketing efforts seem to start earlier and earlier every year. Develop a comprehensive marketing strategy for your Shopify business. If you don’t have one yet, it’s not too late to start.

  2. Consider paid search advertising to get you in front of customers actively looking for products like yours. This option is especially great if there’s not enough time to get traction in organic search.

  3. Target returning customers who are familiar with your brand and can  easily recognize the value of your offers. They also respond well to “early access” and “exclusive” BFCM deals

  4. Set up and test your email marketing automation for Black Friday now, with tools like Klaviyo.

  5. If you have limits, focus on regions that you do better in. For example, the Northeastern states in the U.S. have shown high participation in past years.

Promotions planning

  1. You only get one shot. Customers are expecting substantial markdowns for BFCM. Prepare to provide competitive BFCM deals to attract shoppers and then entice them to increase their basket with add-on items. Whether it’s a single item, collection, or sitewide offer, make sure you understand the unit economics that will make the offer successful.

  2. Highlight your best deals. Showcase your collections of best BFCM deals or best sellers, and make it easy for customers to find high-value products.

  3. Diversify promotions over the week and extend your BFCM deals beyond just the main days, tapping into the trend of a week-long shopping extravaganza.

  4. Offer gift cards or cash back promotions once customers reach a specific purchase threshold.

Shopify webstore optimization: get ready for the rush

  1. Streamline the path to purchase with a distraction-free storefront. 

  2. Optimize the user journey. Understand the role of the products within your assortment,whether they are add-on items or anchor products, and price accordingly. This should inform placement across your Shopify store, navigation, and homepage.

  3. Include upsells in the cart, on product description pages and post-purchase to maximize average order value.

  4. Showcase product reviews on product description pages. Even displaying one or two reviews can provide enough social proof to result in a conversion.

  5. Optimize your Shopify theme for mobile. Over 70% of purchases are made on mobile devices. Ensure your website is fast and that your checkout process is smooth. Test your site to see if it can handle BFCM traffic.

  6. Ensure that your top navigation menu is intuitive and optimized. Product pages, category pages, important announcements, and deals should be easily accessible and navigable, providing a seamless customer journey throughout your Shopify store.

  7. Offer flexible ‘buy now, pay later’ payment options, which can potentially boost conversions.

Order management & tracking

  1. Revisit your customer feedback records, and ensure past tickets are either mitigated or can be avoided.

  2. Provide customers with tracking numbers promptly once their order is dispatched. Using a service offering real-time shipment status updates can reduce customer service inquiries.

  3. Use Shopify apps for inventory management and order tracking, or automations from Launchpad or Zapier. Coordinate with courier tracking information to ensure accurate and timely deliveries.

Shipping strategies

  1. Make sure your shipping options reflect accurate delivery dates, and offer specialized shipping offers or thresholds the closer you get to the date. Indicate when the last orders can be placed to arrive by the holidays.

  2. Sort shipping options and prices based on your previous year’s data to determine which shipping choices were most popular among customers for BFCM. Negotiate rates and delivery times with carriers. When offering various shipping choices, ensure that the differences in delivery times and costs are clear.

  3. Consider offering free shipping as a marketing tactic for orders over a certain amount. Ensure that such an option is visible on product pages, BFCM deal pages, and during the checkout process.

Returns management

A significant portion of online shoppers might return their products after the holidays, so having a streamlined process is essential.

  1. Develop a clear, concise return policy (free template), and make sure it aligns with your overall customer experience strategy. Your return policy should resonate with the tone set in your marketing and sales communications.

  2. Use apps to incentivize exchanges or store credits over refunds, like OpenStore’s partner Loop Returns, which can effectively turn potential returns into upsell opportunities.

  3. Use drop-off locations like Happy Returns to decrease the operational costs associated with returns and improve the return experience for your customers.

  4. Reduce returns with proactive solutions such as improved size guides, product quality control, onboarding videos, and a consistent branding experience, from emails to packaging. Feature detailed product descriptions and high-quality images from multiple perspectives.

  5. Monitor your inventory, understanding return rates and restock rates on a SKU level. Implement policies reflecting the restockability of products. Consider collaborating directly with fulfillment or 3PL partners to manage your returns better.

Relieve the stress of the holiday rush

  1. Prioritize sleep to boost your business, creativity and productivity. Endless work can lead to sleep deprivation which can have severe mental and physical repercussions. Ensuring proper rest can significantly impact both personal well-being and your business’ profitability during the holiday season.

  2. Consider handing off your store’s management and receive passive income payments for 12 months. OpenStore Drive is full-service e-commerce management, taking over the day-to-day of running your store, while paying you guaranteed passive income based on your store’s past performance. OpenStore takes on all the risks in exchange for a small 10% management fee. Say goodbye to figuring out marketing, BFCM promotions, fulfillment, and customer support during the holiday period, and beyond. Our experienced, world-class team of e-commerce experts handle absolutely everything.

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