20 Ways To Stand Out on BFCM (When Everyone Is Running Sales)

BFCM is THE high-stakes retail event. Promotions are the norm rather than the exception. So how do you compete for attention if everyone is offering great deals?

20 Ways To Stand Out on BFCM

Don’t look now, but Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) are almost upon us. With over 180 million shoppers last year, BFCM is THE high-stakes retail event for most brands and retailers. Promotions are the norm rather than the exception. Many customers show up because they expect prices that aren’t available any other time of the year. So how do you compete for attention if everyone is offering great deals?

By now, many brands have their plans in place to lure customers with big sales and promotional emails. To stand out, you must offer more than a blanket discount to stand out. Here are 20 strategies to help you cut through the noise and win over customers.

20 eCommerce BFCM Strategies to Outshine Competing Brands

Everyone loves a good bargain, which explains the appeal of shopping during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. When customers are overwhelmed with promotions and discounts, however, the competition becomes stiffer. Here are our top tips for attracting shoppers’ attention away from other retailers’ BFCM deals – and toward yours.

  1. Increase Your Presence on Social Media

Meet your customers where they are. Most of the time, that’s on social media. It’s a great way to engage them with high-quality content that generates buzz for upcoming sales, including BFCM. To maximize results, determine what channels your target market visits most and use that real estate to promote any product launches and holiday bargains. Make sure also to tailor-fit your campaigns to the platform where you intend to run them. 

A word of caution, though: don’t overdo branded content. It’s great to inject some authenticity through user-generated content (UGC), with 79% of people saying that it could influence their purchase decision. UGC such as photos, videos, and reviews humanize your campaign and boost your brand’s credibility. D2C beauty brand Farmacy is a good example of this, prominently featuring customer reviews to establish reliability.

  1. Prepare Your Site for Seamless Product Discovery

During BFCM, when you’re featuring your best deals, you want shoppers to spend as much time as possible on your eCommerce site. To achieve this, make the shopping experience as smooth and issue-free as possible and connect customers quickly with their desired products. 

Try creating a dedicated BFCM landing page, updating your holiday collections based on the different motivations of your shoppers, and ensuring your on-site navigation is on point–from the drop-down menu to the filters. Failing to deliver seamless online customer journeys can cost you customers and profit, pushing away 70% of shoppers.

Syte customer Venca, a top 10 fashion retailer in Spain, offers shoppers numerous ways to surface products in their online store. There’s the standard search bar as well as Syte’s Camera Search tool for another path to discovery. Logical but simple navigation, eye-catching featured categories, and easy access to favorites and the shopping cart complete the experience.

Venca screenshot
  1. Highlight Important Information to Boost Trust

Trust is important to ensure conversion during any big retail holiday. Brands must show customers that they are reliable. This covers everything from product information and shipping terms and conditions to return policies. Being upfront with the details saves you from the added costs of customers shipping back unsatisfactory items. At the same time, having a clear return policy can put shoppers at ease — 67% of shoppers check the returns and exchanges page before purchasing.

  1. Optimize Merchandising for Different Types of Shoppers

In addition to the sense of urgency BFCM creates, customers generally aren’t inclined to browse through your inventory. Shoppers want the best deals available to them within a reasonable time. You can optimize your site so that they get the most value out of their purchase.

Make this possible by pushing the visibility of relevant items on your eCommerce site. With personalization and robust, automated product tagging that can be used to surface items based on customers’ unique preferences. This can mean displaying product recommendations on the homepage or showing accurate results using the website’s search function. BFCM is also great for cross-selling and upselling to increase basket size, and therefore revenue, from a single customer.

Boohoo screenshot
  1. Offer “Buy Now, Pay Later” Solution

Customers might want to spend but don’t yet have the resources to do so. If you want to convince them to catch a great deal on the spot, you can implement a “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) option. This method is becoming more popular among brands including Nordstrom, J. Crew, Aerie, Madewell, and American Eagle. The market size for BNPL is expected to grow to $39.41 billion by 2030. Get ahead of your competition by allowing shoppers to obtain holiday gifts for loved ones with the convenience of paying in January or beyond.

  1. Surprise and Delight Repeat Customers

Take the opportunity to express your appreciation for your best customers during BFCM. This way, they know that you take care of your loyal base and value them for more than just the money they bring in. You’re not limited in how you can execute this. It may be through rewards programs, private sales, or exclusive discounts and promotions. These can renew shoppers’ interest and give them more reason to love your brand. It also pays to send surprises through personalized messages to show shoppers that they’re special and appreciated.

  1. Add an Element of Gamification

If you want to put a different spin on your BFCM discounts and promotions while catching the attention of customers looking to save, consider adding gamification to your marketing strategy. In addition to clicking ‘add to cart’ or ‘checkout’, there are other ways to interact with shoppers, such as a video game introducing new products or a spinner wheel that picks the discount a customer uses. By letting customers play to win, brands increase engagement and provide a memorable shopping experience that keeps them at the top of shoppers’ minds.

Fast fashion chain Forever 21 is a great example. Its BFCM “Scratch & Reveal” promotion lets shoppers play for a coupon, building anticipation for the event. Emails with gamification events typically result in 74% more engagement.

Forever 21 screenshot
  1. Offer What Customers Want

Sometimes, the best source of data is the customers themselves. When brands survey or ask for feedback, the answers could shed light on what makes a successful BFCM. Brands can listen and implement feedback, and also reach out personally to inform shoppers that their wishes have been granted. This will make your customer base feel seen and heard.

Other shoppers might need a guiding hand, especially in verticals where the general populace is unfamiliar with industry terms. Brands can publish targeted content that directs customers on how to style a room or pick out jewelry. Depending on the intent or occasion, you can add a pre-selected list. This way, you save customers time and prevent decision fatigue. Dollar Shave Club accomplished this last year with a customized grooming plan consisting of product recommendations based on shoppers’ answers to a questionnaire.

  1. Integrate Your Experience Across Channels

The customer journey rarely takes place in one channel. Often, shoppers go through multiple touchpoints before purchasing. They could discover a product through social media or email, check out prices on mobile apps and marketplaces, and find the best deal on a website. These channels are all unique, but it’s important to provide an integrated brand experience as customers move through them. Beyond messaging and aesthetics, functions should also be consistent, such as prompt customer service and shoppable social media content. In general, omnichannel shoppers spend more, averaging $812 per transaction.

  1. Make your Brand Personality Shine

What makes your brand unique and attractive to shoppers in a sea of choices? Black Friday is a good time to highlight that. Connect your customers with your brand through a campaign that promotes your personality. Are your products meant to be a part of the family tradition? Do you support customers in embracing their unique styles? When you can speak to shoppers’ hearts with personality-driven marketing and share your vision through a compelling brand story, you give customers more purpose beyond selling.

  1. Partner with Social Causes

Today’s consumers are increasingly becoming socially conscious. They will be more receptive to brands that advocate for causes. Shoppers hold companies to a certain standard and expect them to be socially responsible: At least 70% want brands to take a stand on social and political issues. Customers also identify more with brands that support the causes they follow, with 79% of Americans saying they feel a deeper personal connection to companies with similar values. 

During BFCM, you can commit a portion of your earnings to charities or promise sustainable deliveries. Shoppers will have a positive image of your brand and feel that they are contributing to something meaningful.

Outdoor retailer Black Leaf committed to plant a tree for every purchase made on Black Friday. The site renamed Black to Green Friday while highlighting its sustainable brand partners.

Black Leaf screenshot

Winning over customers is not as easy as exhibiting altruism and being socially conscious, however. Authenticity is important. Consumers can see through insincere declarations, with 53% believing that brands take an environmental stand purely for public relations or marketing purposes

  1. Fine-tune the Mobile Experience

Is your mobile app or website BFCM-ready? In 2021, 42.4% of online Black Friday revenue was made through smartphones, amounting to $3.7 billion in earnings. If the mobile experience is not optimized, then brands stand to lose significant profit from the retail holiday. Make sure that the user experience is intuitive on different mobile devices. Is it easy to find BFCM items? Can products be added to the shopping cart with a tap? Payment should be just as convenient. And if you think only younger generations are doing mobile shopping, then you’re missing out — 66% of Boomers are now buying digitally.

  1. Have Offers that Go Beyond BFCM

In addition to gaining revenue, BFCM is an opportunity to capture customers for future shopping events. Black Friday is a prime time for enticing Christmas and New Year shoppers to return for more. Customers can save items for later purchase through carts or wishlists. You can nurture new customers by sending emails with exclusive deals or encouraging them to leave UGC in exchange for promotions or points.

LOOKFANTASTIC invited its Black Friday customers to redo the shopping event two weeks later, just in time for Christmas and Hanukkah. The retailer tempted shoppers with items that went for as low as 75% off.

Lookfantastic screenshot
  1. Experiment with Different Shopping Cart Offers

BFCM success is largely determined by a high number of conversions and average order value. To increase success, you might have to motivate shoppers with separate cart offers. Free shipping is a popular and effective promotion that encourages purchase – 9 out of 10 consumers say it’s the top incentive to shop online. The average order value also increases by 30%. Alternatively, brands can offer scheduled delivery for items bought as gifts. If it’s not financially wise to do free shipments, especially with global supply chain issues, you can require customers to reach a certain value or add more items for free shipping or discounts. 

  1. Remove Friction from the Shopping Experience

Discounts might lure customers into purchasing from your eCommerce site or mobile app, but many things could stand in the way of a successful conversion. Some of them are slow loading times, inaccurate search results, and convoluted checkout processes. You can remedy this by preparing ahead and using the right tools – run speed test tools or utilize a content delivery network, add dynamic checkout buttons and one-click purchases, and implement automated product tagging of your inventory. Completed transactions can also be assured through features that encourage impulsive buys, such as fewer checkout fields, guest accounts, and multiple payment options.

  1. Start Early and Keep Your Presence Known Until BFCM Ends

Retailers are generating buzz for BFCM earlier and earlier in recent years – and you should, too, if you want customers to consider you first. You can create excitement with teasers on social media and your website, as well as emails letting subscribers know that there’s something to look forward to sooner. Customers can create wishlists for the occasion and brands can remind them when it’s time to check out. Post-Cyber Monday, you can entice them with last-minute deals and holiday gifts, as well as cart abandonment reminders.

  1. Add a Sense of Urgency to Most Sought-after Items

Part of planning for BFCM is anticipating which items will be popular during the season. Besides monitoring industry trends, brands can also gather data from their backend analytics. With the necessary information, you can create a sense of scarcity that will prompt shoppers to monitor inventory and get ahead of other shoppers. Don’t underestimate the power of the fear of missing out – but to stand out from the rest, send your notifications during off times or add countdown clocks to push customers fast.

This landing page from Forever 21 for Black Friday is simple, but it does the job. It includes the navigation, creates urgency with a countdown, and has a holiday theme.

Forever 21 landing page
  1. Expect and Prepare for the Influx of Customers Needing Support and Assistance

Shopping seasons that see a rush of consumers depend on customer support, among other things, for a successful run. Prepare your team to handle the load efficiently and attentively, especially when customers are more likely to be frustrated. While pages for frequently asked questions may suffice in some situations, it pays to have multiple channels for support available, such as live chat, phone, and email. 

  1. Make Your Homepage Compelling Enough for Shoppers to Click

Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers will visit your site with varying purposes. Some are after the best bargains, others are loyal customers who want exclusive deals, and some are shoppers who already know what they want. What works for one persona won’t necessarily work for another, so your site shouldn’t have generic BFCM content and blanket discounts.

You can start with persona-based collections, highlighting trends and outfit inspirations. To take it a step further, you can incorporate tools that enable you to dynamically update the homepage layout and content based on shoppers’ previous and real-time browsing behavior.

Zaful screenshot
  1. Encourage Repeat Visits

If you want to see repeat purchases, keep the connection going with your customers post-BFCM. One way to accomplish this is with a post-purchase campaign. After the first buy, brands can take the opportunity to introduce their story and the people behind the company. Incentivizing shoppers for returning through a loyalty program and keeping them in the loop for future sales events could also relay that you value the relationship.

Grab and Retain the Attention of Your Shoppers this BFCM

While shoppers wouldn’t want to skip great deals, it’s not the only motivator to buy during BFCM. When thousands of other competitors offer just as many price cuts, you’ll have to give customers compelling reasons to choose your brand from the rest. Rather than focusing solely on the discounts, resources can be redirected to delivering engaging activities, appealing to emotions, and providing satisfactory support – all keys to seamless and memorable shopping experiences.