How to Optimize Your eCommerce Store for Cyber Monday

by Carmen Apostu
Blog Post

There’s an important date just around the corner if you are the owner of an eCommerce store: Cyber Monday, one of the busiest sale days of the year.

Are you prepared? Have you got your site set up to make the most of a day where large numbers of people are actively hunting for shopping bargains? Cyber Monday is set to outpace Black Friday shortly for the numbers of shoppers involved and with good reason. Most of us would prefer to shop from the comfort of our own homes without getting involved with the crush at the mall.

With the right preparation in place, you may even find that you crush regular sales figures by a significant margin. This means taking a few steps to optimize your store ahead of time.

Here are a few things you can do:

#1. Optimize for keywords

We put this first as keyword research is really something you should be planning for well ahead of Cyber Monday. The idea is to try to get your website ranking as high as possible in searches related to your products. Just as an example, eCommerce stores will often try to rank for searches like “Cyber Monday 2017 deals on (product name)” by creating pages for Cyber Monday several months to a year ahead.

Besides searches for Cyber Monday terms, think about what your customers are looking for at other times in order to find products like yours online. This means knowing your customers very well and understanding what their needs are.

A good place to begin with keyword research is simply to brainstorm what you think customers will be searching, using a couple of tools to help you add to your list. Google’s suggestion feature is one that can help, as is Ubersuggest, a tool that helps you find suggestions that won’t necessarily come up in Google tools.

Once you have a list of suggestions brainstormed, you can run them through a keyword tool such as Google’s Keyword Planner, Moz’s Keyword Explorer or SERPS. Look for the number of monthly searches, as well as the competition on the particular keyword. High competition words are difficult to rank for, but medium to low competition words with high search volumes tend to be the sweet spot.

Again, this is something which should be done as early as possible, so now is the time if you haven’t got started already.

#2. Prepare your inventory

Given that the holiday season and the fourth quarter of the year can bring in more sales for retailers than the entire rest of the year, you want to make sure that you’re not going to run out of inventory part way through.

Inventory forecasting is no easy task. If you’ve been in business for a while, then you can look at historic data and make some extrapolations from it, but otherwise, you’re going to have to make some estimates as best as you can.

To make this task easier, some store owners use inventory forecasting software which will analyze data automatically and provide some estimates. A great thing about this sort of inventory is that you can set it up to alert you to critical events, such as when you need to order in new stock. This sort of software is capable of assessing how many days of stock you have left based on your sales data, then using that with how long your inventory turnaround time is.

All of your efforts to optimize might be wasted if you don’t stay on top of inventory – people will come to your website only to leave again because you’re out of stock. Don’t leave inventory management to chance.

#3. Ensure your website is ready for traffic

What happens if your sale is so popular that word spreads and you have a huge influx of traffic to your website or app? Even the mega-brand Target had their website crash on Cyber Monday when they were inundated with traffic.

While you can’t really guarantee every situation, you can do your best to ensure that your site is prepared for heavier traffic. This can mean ensuring that your website is with a reputable host, that you have the appropriate capacity or that you go with an eCommerce platform that is large and reliable.

#4. Be mobile-friendly

This covers a couple of different aspects; for one thing, if you have an eCommerce website, it should be mobile optimized. This means that it should be easy for shoppers to use your site on any mobile device. Statistics from Smart Insights show that conversions have been steadily creeping up on both mobile phones and tablets, with tablets now being only just behind more traditional means for conversions.

7 Tips to Optimize Your eCommerce Store Ahead of Cyber Monday

Source: Smart Insights

The second thing to consider is a mobile app for your eCommerce store. The same research from Smart Insights found that apps are the preference over mobile sites. In fact, 90% of the consumer’s mobile time is spent on apps. Your app should have excellent UI and UX design so that people are encouraged to use it for their shopping.

#5. Work to opt-in customers

Driving traffic through SEO or through paid advertising are valid strategies, however, neither is easy, particularly at a time of year with so much advertising noise. You can get a good head start if you’ve worked on building an email list with which you can communicate, however.

This is another strategy which should begin well ahead of the fourth quarter, particularly so that you can increase your profile and build rapport with people on your list. Have an enticing opt-in on your site (for example, give people a one-time discount code for signing up) and build your list early.

Another consideration here is that you should have the opt-in mechanism in place in anticipation of a surge in traffic anyway. An optimized website doesn’t leave getting customers to chance by assuming a lot of one-time purchases, it attempts to bring customers back frequently by capturing their details and communicating with them.

#6. Optimize your checkout

How easy is it for visitors to your site to navigate around and to check out? Cart abandonment is a huge issue for eCommerce sites, with the average documented abandonment rate being 69.23%.

There are a few common issues which can lead to cart abandonment, but the good news is that you can prepare your site if you know what these are. We created a table of some common reasons for abandoning the cart and what you can do about them:

ReasonWhat to do
Extra charges at the checkout are a surprise and/or too much (taxes, shipping, fees).Be upfront about additional charges by saying “sales taxes payable at checkout”, or consider bundling shipping costs into your pricing. Another strategy is to offer free shipping once a minimum spend has been met.
The shopper was being forced to create an account to check out.Don’t force account creation. Have guest checkout as an option, then perhaps incentivize account creation, such as by offering a discount code to do so after checkout is complete.
The checkout process was too long or complicated.People hate complicated while they’re shopping. Keep your checkout process streamlined and easy to navigate. For example, make it easy for people to return to shopping or to adjust their cart.
The shopper didn’t know whether they could trust the website with their credit card details.Use features such as security seals to convey trust. Look at providing different options for payment, including any (such as PayPal) where the shopper won’t have to enter card details.
Couldn’t find or understand the return policy.When people shop online they want to feel safe that there is a good policy for returning goods that aren’t as expected or are defective. Have your return policy in a place that is easy for shoppers to see (such as a link at the foot of the page).

#7. Prepare for cart recovery

Despite your best efforts, you will have a lot of shoppers who abandon the cart before checking out. What you can do to optimize your website is to use cart recovery software to try to bring them back.

There are a few different options for this type of software, but the better ones allow you to customize an email campaign which targets anyone who abandons the cart. Usually, the abandoned cart triggers a series of email reminders over a few days, although these will stop automatically if the shopper goes back and completes checkout. Websites have been able to recover thousands of dollars in sales with this strategy, so it should definitely be part of your pre-Cyber Monday preparation.

Final thoughts

Cyber Monday has the potential to be the most lucrative day of the year for eCommerce store owners, especially if you work to optimize your store ahead of time.

Make sure you have done keyword research, planned your inventory, and ensured that your site can handle the extra traffic. You should aim to get people opting into your email list, have your checkout optimized, and have something in place for abandoned cart recovery.

Importantly, you should be mobile-optimized. People are increasingly using their mobile devices both to browse and to purchase, so catering to this preference is crucial for keeping people shopping with you.

Koombea builds beautifully optimized eCommerce websites and apps. Talk to us today about how we can help you.

by Carmen Apostu
Blog Post