Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing, with no sign of stopping before the holidays. It seems likely that nonetheless, many people, unable to see their loved ones face to face this holiday season, will be looking at the very least to carry on traditional gift giving.
It’s hard to predict how “normal” this holiday shopping season is likely to be, but with stores in many parts of the country likely to be under lockdown or have restrictions on the number of shoppers allowed in the store at the same time, Black Friday will be a very different event than in most years.
Some are going as far as saying that Black Friday is “over”.
It seems more likely that Black Friday will, like everything else we used to do in person, migrate online.
So while if you have a small business, you may not have the option to open your doors to shoppers looking for Black Friday deals this year, you can be prepared for an influx of shoppers online by preparing your e-commerce website.
Overall, you’ll want to make sure you’re mindful of the difficult circumstances facing your customers this year, or maybe just a different frame of mind given the ongoing economic and public health situation.
Here are our tips for how to prepare your e-commerce site for Black Friday during a pandemic:
1. Offer free shipping and gift wrapping
Many families and friends have been separated from one another for most of this year, and it’s likely that many of your customers will be shopping at your online store for just the right gift for a loved one who lives further away.
If you can offer free shipping, that will help ease some of the expense they might have of getting gifts delivered to loved ones.
Likewise, whereas in years past, your customers may have wrapped their gifts themselves and delivered in person, this year they’ll probably be shipping directly to the gift recipient, so offering gift-wrapping is a smart way to offer a little extra something special to make this holiday season feel a bit more normal.
2. Add a donation option at check out
These are hard times for everyone, and doing our part to make the holiday season a little bit better for those who may have lost a loved one or who may be struggling financially this holiday season is a good way to show that your business isn’t just about making money, but that you’re a part of your community and you care about the people in it.
You could think about adding a way to add a small donations—$5 for example—or a “round up” option that donates the remainder to reach the next whole dollar to the charity of your choice.
How to implement this is going to depend on what you use for your e-commerce platform. For self-hosted e-commerce platforms like Prestashop, you can add a donation add-on to your site.
3. Email marketing
The holiday season is a great reason to get back in touch with your customer base, especially after the kind of year that it’s been.
It might feel awkward to be sending commercial emails, but if you word it right, your customers will probably be happy to hear from you. We suggest being more personal than you might normally write emails to customers. Your customers might be wondering about how your business is doing and might be relieved to hear from you.
Or, if you’ve been keeping in touch with your customer base during the pandemic, consider using the opportunity to highlight what you’re doing differently this year (for example, if you’re adding donations to your checkout, gift wrapping, or offering free shipping).
And as with each year, sending one or two emails a few weeks ahead of Black Friday is a great idea for communicating about what deals you are offering, or to highlight specific products.
4. Landing pages
If there are specific products or deals that you do intend to highlight, creating a Black Friday landing page will be helpful for communicating about them and about your Black Friday promotions all together.
How to design a Black Friday landing page:
- Keep it simple
Black Friday is not the time to recreate War and Peace or create an intricate fabergé egg of a website design. Keep your text simple and to the point and keep the design simple too. Plain white or red text that says “Black Friday Sale” on a black background is just fine as a banner image. Likewise, stick to the point with the rest of your copy.
- Use clear calls-to-action
Speaking of which, make sure your calls-to-action are crystal clear. You’ll need your landing page to not only get right to the point, but people should know exactly what to do to take advantage
- Highlight what’s different this year
Finally, if you are doing things a little bit different this year, whether you’re taking one of our suggestions above, or you’re doing something like extending your sale for longer than you normally would, be sure to highlight that as well
A great place to host your Black Friday or Holiday shopping landing page is on a .blackfriday or .christmas domain name, now on sale.
Ultimately, with a pandemic still raging and an economy teetering on the edge, these are certainly extraordinary times for holiday shopping. This year, Black Friday will be different. There’s no doubt about that. It will be more distanced, more online, it might last longer, and people might be expecting different things from you than just good deals.
Keep that in mind, and use this holiday shopping season as a way to reconnect with your customer base, to remind them that you care about them as people, not just as customers, and, of course, offer them unique benefits that they wouldn’t get just any time of year.