In the 1980s, people started referring to the day after Thanksgiving as “Black Friday” – for consumers, it’s the unofficial start of the Christmas and holiday shopping season; for brick-and-mortar retailers, it’s the beginning of their busiest and most profitable time of the year. Big indeed: Last year, retailers rang up more than $9 billion in sales on Black Friday. But that’s not the biggest shopping day of the year: Cyber Monday, the Monday after Black Friday, accounted for more than $11 billion in e-commerce sales last year.

In terms of overall consumer spending, e-commerce sales volumes still trail sales in the physical world, but it will surprise no one that e-commerce is continuing to grow. Online shopping is convenient (no traffic, no crowds), easy (all it takes is a smartphone), and increasingly the norm for consumers. Of course, the pandemic significantly transformed e-tailing into the default shopping experience for many. Forged by the reality of social distancing, shopping online shows no signs of slowing down.

E-tailers must be ready to elevate their offerings and value propositions before November 27 along six vectors:

Prepare your Cyber Monday strategy.

Your Cyber Monday strategy demands comprehensive planning and coordination of your go-to-market strategy. Email marketing, advertising, and social media initiatives must be tailored to and focused squarely on the most prominent e-commerce day of the year. Now is also the time to review and stress-test your website. Make sure every link works, your system can handle a much more substantial user load, and triple-check that your checkout process is robust and fast.

Optimize for search.

While some shoppers will come directly to your site, many (perhaps most) will find you through search engines, so you must be sure that your website ranks prominently for keywords relating to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and holiday shopping. When your site secures a top position in search results, you win big.

Improve responsiveness.

The reality is that users shop from multiple devices – computers, tablets, smartphones – and a seamless omnichannel experience will help you convert browsers to buyers. Make sure you are offering a cohesive user experience across devices and platforms. Test and optimize, particularly for mobile performance.

Manage inventory.

Double down on your efforts to predict volumes and avoid stockouts. The loss of a sale because your inventory is depleted, is bad enough, but disappointed consumers can mean the loss of future sales and an ongoing relationship. (They might also vent on social media!)

Create meaningful perks.

It’s a competitive world out there, and one great way to differentiate yourself is by offering tangible benefits to your customers. For e-commerce businesses, these benefits might include free shipping (increasingly necessary in today’s environment), hassle-free returns, or flexible shipping arrangements (e.g., buy online and pick-up in a physical location). The challenge lies in execution, obviously, but also in how you integrate perks into your brand’s value proposition. Your goal should always be to create offerings that enhance the shopping and brand experience. That’s how you build customers for life.

Leverage social media on Cyber Monday and beyond.

Social media has become one of the most powerful tools to build awareness and drive sales for e-commerce companies. But Instagram and other platforms require a different marketing approach: Your focus should be on broadening awareness and engaging customers with meaningful content. In other words, your social media efforts should not look like advertising. Think of social media as an opportunity to attract customers rather than push products out. Done well, social media can drive sales.

While all these ideas are important to every e-commerce retailer at all times of the year, they become essential in the weeks leading up to Cyber Monday. While implementation requires technology, of course, the best solutions are the ones that deeply embrace and further your brand and customer experiences.

The BORN Group can help apply technology to empower your brand.