5 Tips to Prepare Your Online Store for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Two of the biggest online shopping days of the year are just around the corner and both mean big sales for online merchants. Are you and your store ready to take full advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Those who shop online in the next few days will receive all the benefits of Black Friday without worrying about the stampede going on at the local mall. Your customers will be happy in knowing they didn’t even have to lift a finger (unless you count clicking on the shopping cart) to get the best deals around. And those days aren't just for the big, high street shops – smaller stores can get their slice of the cake by using the time to attract more traffic, increase sales and ultimately bring in new customers.

That is, as long as they play it smart. Here are some tips to do just that.

Build Your Online Presence by Offering Discounts

There is no better way to turn attention (the good kind) to your online store this time of year than by offering hefty discounts. They won’t do any good however if your customers aren’t aware of them; a nice image of a product or service with BIG letters saying "20% off Everything on Black Friday!" or something along those lines will help turn heads your way. This is the one time of year when you shouldn’t be scared of giving large discounts. People are only looking for bargains on Black Friday and if you don’t provide them, someone else will.

However, don't do it just to clear your stock – make sure to provide value to your customers as well. Discounting products that no one needed in the first place won't build a lasting relationship with your customer.

Use the “Free Shipping” Paradox to Your Advantage

Did you know if you offer people free shipping worth $10, they are more likely to take it as an upfront guarantee than they are to take a discount of $15? This is an easy way for online stores to pad out their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal offerings and a big “FREE SHIPPING” banner will look great at the top of your store page.

Offer Gift Cards

Especially this time of year, online customers are generally shopping for presents for friends and family. What will they buy if they're not really sure what to buy? A gift card. By offering gift cards you can take advantage of the shopping spree twice with every purchase. If the gift receiver has a $30 gift card and finds something on your site for $60, they get their desired item for half price while you still receive your asking price. And a happy customer is a loyal customer!

Get Creative

Time to put on your thinking cap and get creative! Replace the regular banner and images in your store with something festive. If you want to promote your sale, spice things up a bit. When was the last time you updated those product images? Make sure they're tip-top for Black Friday and Cyber Monday! This means high-res, high quality and, above all, professional.

You only have one opportunity to catch a potential buyer’s eye, so make it count. Stock photos are fine if you don’t have anything better, but again – quality is key. If graphics are just not your forte, you can always find someone to help you with this on Upwork.

Whip Your Customer Service into Shape

It's good to have a professional looking contact page, but it won’t help your customers much if there’s no answer from the other side. There will inevitably be questions only you can answer – question about your products, promotions, coupons, discounts, shipping – you name it and they’ll ask it. You need to have someone to answer their calls and emails quickly, especially on Black Friday.

Remember, people are in a rush to buy something and they won’t wait long for your answer. Reply quickly and gain a happy customer. Worried about the surge of questions? Sign up for a support system and put out a FAQ to answer the questions you hear the most – all at once. If you're looking for one, be sure to check out Groove – we at MultiMerch use Groove for our support and Knowledge Base and Groove team incredibly helpful and friendly.

That’s all there is to it. Keep these tips in mind and your store will be ready for November 27 and 30 – and you’ll be on track to end 2015 with a bang!

P.S. We'll shortly start offering Black Friday discounts at MultiMerch as well. Stay tuned!

Martin is the founder of MultiMerch who has dedicated his life to building great products.