How Retailers Can Make the Most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Family, food, and football—Thanksgiving is a cherished annual tradition. But while you’re relaxing with your feet up, countless retailers are scrambling to get ready for their most important shopping days of the year—Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

And with good reason. When it comes to these historically momentous shopping days, the numbers are pretty staggering. In 2015, more than 151 million people went shopping between brick-and-mortar stores and online over Black Friday weekend. Setting a sales record, Cyber Monday saw $3 billion in total rings, at an average of $123.43 per sale.

With the potential for huge numbers on the line and the competition getting tougher every year, it’d be a huge mistake for retailers to show up unprepared. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just the beginning of a long, potentially lucrative holiday shopping season. But solid sales performance on these days can set the tone for the rest of the year. Retailers should place great importance on examining past trends and hone their strategies to make the most of this critical holiday weekend. Here’s how.

Mobile On the Rise

After a record setting year in 2015, mobile retail is trending toward a massive 2016. Mobile shopping took  34% slice of the Black Friday pie last year—a whopping $900 million. And Cyber Monday wasn’t far behind, accumulating an $838 million tally. Compare that to the $548 million in total mobile sales in 2014 and it’s easy to see why retailers should be focusing on mobile retail opportunities.

Adding further credibility to the growth of mobile, a Gartner press release stated earlier this year that ‘global sales of smartphones to end users totaled 349 million units in the first quarter of 2016, a 3.9% increase over the same period in 2015 […] Smartphone sales represented 78%  of total mobile phone sales in the first quarter of 2016.’

With increasing numbers of consumers using their smartphones to shop during the holiday season, retailer strategies should include optimizing websites for mobile access, and an emphasis on digital discounts via online promotions and mobile apps.

An Eye on Advertising

Consumers are never more aware of retail advertising than during the holidays. They know deals are coming, and they’re looking for the best of the best. Retailers can simplify their customers’ search by pointing the way to their brands through accessible, responsive mobile design to promote Black Friday or Cyber Monday doorbusters and flash sales.

Retailers should also be aware of social media activity and brand engagement. During the busy season, consumers will often tap social channels in an effort to reach their favorite brands or find more great deals. But capitalizing on these trends requires integrated advertising. Link your promotions to social and listen intently to tackle service issues or potentially extend offers in real time during Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping.

The Multichannel Mindset

The importance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday performance should cue retailers to reevaluate their omnichannel marketing strategies weeks or even months ahead of the big weekend. Ensuring consistency across digital, mobile, social, and in-store efforts is key to cultivating excellent customer experiences. Shoppers should be able to seamlessly check their phones to find mobile content that’s connected to in-store promotions to find great deals.

When every dollar counts, a cohesive retail strategy really comes in handy. Want to prevent showrooming? Ensure customers have multiple access points to in-store promotions, making them much more likely to purchase your products rather than turning to online to find a better deal from your competitors.

Want to encourage webrooming? That same uniform experience can promote online product research prior to a final in-store evaluation that leads to a sale and a happy, informed customer. One connected strategy can take advantage of both behaviors, resulting in a win-win for the customer and the retailer.

The mobile retail market is thriving, providing countless ways for retailers to make shopping more efficient and exciting on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and into the new year.

Jim MacKay is Marketing Director for Fortegra Financial Corporation

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