Predicting BFCM 2020: What you can do in Q3 to prep for the biggest ecommerce event of the year

It’s been anything but an ordinary year for ecommerce, so as we approach Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM), the habits you’re used to may well need a rethink. With so many new customers venturing online during 2020, this year’s sale season has the potential to be bigger than ever. 

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the changes happening in ecommerce this year and set out our predictions for what this means for Black Friday Cyber Monday. We’ll also be showing you how to keep your existing customers close, as well as ways to engage the new shoppers who have ventured onto the online scene. 

But, before we dive into what you can do this year, we need to look back at the BFCMs of time gone by.

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Time to rewind

Black Friday Cyber Monday 2019

Last year, what was considered by some to be a slow year for retail – sitting at a steady 5% month on month growth – was saved by Black Friday Cyber Monday. The year finished on a high, up 6.7%, thanks to the discount event.

The event itself was bigger than ever with Adobe Analytics reporting a total spend of $7.4 billion

And, when we looked at whether customers shopped around or returned to their favorites, merchants using our loyalty programs rewarded 1.9x as many points as they would over a normal weekend. 

While existing customers were engaging with the loyalty programs of their favorite stores, it was also a ripe time to start new relationships with customers. Merchants using LoyaltyLion saw a 1.3x increase in the number of loyalty program sign-ups during BFCM last year. See more of our BFCM findings from last year

2020 and the year that rocked retail

This year, the experts are predicting a BFCM for the history books thanks to the new consumer habits brought about by lockdown. 

Many customers who were confident with brick-and-mortar were forced to trade the shopping aisles for a screen. Retailers have had to think fast to get in front of this new swathe of online shoppers. 

38% of shoppers have said they are now more comfortable with digital technology than they were before the pandemic. And, 43% of shoppers now feel more positive about shopping online. Mark Adams, Chief Executive at Attraqt even noted that “some major brands have seen a 300% growth in online traffic”.

The last six months has “done for ecommerce what Apple’s iPhone did for mobile” – it’s caused a huge shift in consumer habits and expectations. 

With browsing and discovery now being done from home, rather than in-store, BFCM presents the opportunity to show your customers (old and new) that you’re worth engaging with over the peak period. Here are some strategies you can put in place right now, to get ahead of the seasonal spike.

Put an end to the game of cat and mouse

One challenge of BFCM is that it keeps getting longer. Brands are slashing their prices earlier to beat the competition. What was once a weekend spectacle is now a fortnight-long event. This sucks demand forwards and shoppers are on the lookout for promotions earlier than ever.

According to Facebook, 81% of customers are skeptical that the deals on BFCM are even the lowest they can get. This leaves customers and merchants playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse to push prices lower.

This year, take a page out of the only discount event that ever tops BFCM: Singles Day. 

Retailers are using Singles Day to build an enjoyable shopping experience for their customers. In 2019, Alibaba Group said that over 50% of its Tmall merchants used live streaming to sell nearly $2.84 billion worth of products.

The success of these approaches makes it clear that consumers are tired of the chase. Instead, they are being lured in by brands that focus on an enjoyable customer experience.

This year, play up to your brand experience and make shopping with you entertaining

Now, live streaming might not be in your wheelhouse. But, you can take more achievable actions to build experiences with your customers that go beyond the transactional. Showing how your brand gives value outside of the discounts you’re offering. 

For example, 100% Pure have started to offer their loyalty program members online consultations. On these calls, a skincare specialist can recommend the best products for the shopper’s skin type. A smart approach to create a memorable and personal experience.

100 Pure Skincare Consultation

Similarly, the bikini brand, Cupshe, has loyalty tiers where customers who spend the most get extra-special perks. Those in the top tier, get invited to exclusive events and earn priority customer service. Read more in our Cupshe case study.

Cupshe Tiers

Offer experiential perks like this and your shoppers will know they’ll get more from you for each transaction and that you want them to have the best experience every time they engage.

Disruption fuels brand discovery

Of the consumers who have tried different brands over lockdown, 73% intend to continue to include their new discoveries into their routine. With the uncertainty that 2020 has brought, we might see more shoppers looking outside their regular remit this BFCM and testing out new brands and products.

You should seize the opportunity now to acquire the right kind of customers who are on the hunt for their next favorite go-to. 

Over the next few months work to build up a relationship with new customers. You’ll then be front of mind when BFCM arrives. Last year, 46% of customers told us they are more likely to return to stores they’ve shopped with previously. 

To do this, use the customers you already have to help new shoppers discover you before the BFCM peak

Using your loyalty program, reach out to your brand fans with emails and let them know they can earn points by referring others to your store. For example, Studio M has automated email triggers. Every time a customer leaves a positive review, they get shown that they’ll earn points for sharing the brand.

Reviwer Referral Email

This shows your dedicated customers you appreciate their loyalty, as you’re giving them points, discounts and loyalty perks. Meanwhile, you’ll acquire more like-minded customers who will be interested in your brand.

To get the referred customer to sign-up and make a purchase, be sure to tag on an interesting offer. Manuka Doctor gives referred shoppers a 15% saving on their first order. 

Manuka Honey Referrals

You can then work on maintaining a positive relationship with these newly acquired customers and make them feel valued through the perks of your program. The long-term connection you’ll establish will mean they’ll be more likely to return to you over the discount season, and long after. 

Discovery will be different

With ecommerce becoming omnipresent, how customers discover brands has also changed. 

Before, most shoppers would find BFCM bargains using their search bar – mobile searches containing “Black Friday” increased by 80% between 2016 and 2017

Today, however, it’s likely that social media will be a greater space for your BFCM reductions to get seen: There was a 95% increase in sales of products discovered on social media during lockdown.

But, during BFCM, cost per acquisition peaks as there are more people in the market who have a high intent to convert. You need to develop an ecommerce discovery strategy that gets you seen before the discount-driven noise takes the spotlight.

Now’s also the time to invest in audience retargeting to get in front of new look-alike customers. If you earn more impressions now, more customers will think of you when they’re looking for a BFCM bargain. 

Here’s how

With your loyalty program data, you can segment your highest-value customers. Your loyalty program members enjoy your products and brand, meaning others like them will love your offering too. 

Upload a list of your loyalty program members to Facebook or Google and let these platforms find other look-alike audiences. The ads you display could show the benefits of your loyalty program. For example, Waterdrop uses retargeting to show new customers that members get early access to new products. Check out our videos with Adam from Blend Commerce for more Facebook ad tips

Waterdrop Facebook Advertising

Show you have shared values

Despite BFCM and the run-up to Christmas being an exciting time, it’s one of the most difficult times to make your mark. There are endless players throwing their weight trying to get seen by consumers. 

Get noticed ahead of time by showing your new and existing customers what your brand stands for.

Use a loyalty program to build up brand affinity. With one, you can show shoppers where you stand on big-picture problems. In time, they’ll feel more connected to your store over others in the market who don’t share their values. 

For example, Pacifica Beauty and The Detox Market use their loyalty programs to reward customers points every time they return and recycle empty packaging to the brand.

Pacifica Beauty Recycling

Similarly, The pet care brand, Edgard and Cooper, lets shoppers redeem loyalty points for charitable rewards. They can use their points to plant a tree or donate food to a dog in need. 

E And C Donate

By using a loyalty program to show how you’re aligned with your customers now, means that when BFCM rolls around they’ll return to you. They’ll want to give their time and engagement to a brand they know is like-minded. 

Take steps now to get ahead of the trend

2020’s BFCM is going to be one to remember. There are new consumer habits to consider and lots more competition in the market. 

Get ahead by putting the steps in now to build loyalty and brand affinity. Do this right, and you’ll have a more dedicated customer base to tap into when the discount season comes around. Plus, you’ll come out the other side with more loyalty customers.

Test Out Your Retention Strategy

About the author

Mollie Woolnough-Rai

Mollie is a Senior Content Marketing Executive at LoyaltyLion. After graduating from UCL in 2016, she has worked both in-house and at marketing agencies providing expertise in content for both B2B and B2C clients. At LoyaltyLion, Mollie manages our content, making sure our readers get the best quality resources about customer loyalty and retention.

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