BFCM & Holiday Resources Customer Experience eCommerce Best Practices Blog The Homestretch: Tests to Do Before BFCM Here are the tests and technical measures your eCommerce brand needs to take to ensure a seamless and rewarding BFCM shopping experience. Dana Zachor November 8, 2023 8 Min Read Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) weekend is a pivotal time of the year for brands and retailers looking to boost their sales and engage with a massive audience. In the lead-up to it, there are numerous elements that retailers must address to ensure a smooth and memorable experience for shoppers. In this post, we’ll dive into the essential tests – from website performance to marketing strategies – that every eCommerce brand should undertake before BFCM to position itself for success. Where to Focus Your Energy If you want to reap the benefits of this highly profitable retail holiday, it’s crucial to ensure that everything on your eCommerce site is working as intended. The top three areas to focus on are: Performance optimization: Ensuring that your website and other digital infrastructure are in optimal condition is important for handling the surge in online traffic during BFCM. Running tests to identify and rectify any issues that may cause slow loading times or site crashes is necessary if you want to give your customers a seamless shopping experience during BFCM. User experience: A smooth and user-friendly experience is paramount for online shoppers. BFCM represents a prime opportunity to attract and retain customers – 54% of executives see it as integral in fostering customer loyalty – but a poor user experience can drive shoppers away. Rigorous testing helps identify and resolve issues such as broken links, navigation problems, or checkout process errors. Accurate tracking and analytics: Setting up tracking codes, analytics tools, and reporting mechanisms correctly is imperative to monitor key performance metrics, conversion rates, and customer behaviors. This data can empower your brand to make informed decisions, refine your strategies, and maximize the return on your BFCM investments. By addressing these aspects with thorough testing, your brand can navigate the BFCM rush with confidence and deliver a top-notch shopping experience. Tests for BFCM-Proofing Your Brand BFCM represents a make-or-break moment for brands looking to boost their bottom line and gain a competitive edge. Here’s how to set the stage for a prosperous and glitch-free holiday shopping season. 1. Website loading optimization Website loading optimization directly impacts user experience and overall sales performance. Brands should employ load-testing tools that simulate a sudden surge in website traffic and help verify the site’s capacity to handle increased user activity. In particular, the focus should be on monitoring the following two critical metrics – page load times and server response times. These are essential for keeping users engaged and preventing dropoff, which can significantly impact conversion rates. Further, mobile responsiveness is paramount, especially with more customers doing their shopping on mobile devices. By 2025, it’s predicted that mobile commerce will grow to approximately $710 billion in revenue. So make sure to check that your website or app functions seamlessly across various devices and screen sizes. In the end, you’ll need to take a multifaceted approach to fully optimize your website speed. Consider techniques such as image compression and minimizing HTTP requests, which helps streamline the data exchange process between the user’s browser and the server. You can also leverage browser caching as another vital strategy, which allows frequently accessed resources to be stored on the user’s device, reducing the need for repeated downloads and further enhancing page load times. 2. Inventory and stock On BFCM, shoppers are looking for the best deals. To make sure they don’t get disappointed, it’s important to ensure that your brand has enough stock to meet the demand. To address this, retailers can implement advanced inventory management systems that prevent overselling and stockouts. These systems utilize real-time data to monitor product availability, preventing sales of items that have run out of stock, and updating product listings dynamically to reflect accurate inventory levels. A critical aspect of this technical inventory preparation is the calculation and allocation of safety stock or buffer stock. This buffer stock acts as a safety net to account for unexpected spikes in demand. Determining the amount of safety stock is a technical decision that hinges on a combination of sales forecasts, historical data analysis, and an assessment of the risk tolerance level. The goal is to strike a balance between having enough inventory to meet high demand without overcommitting valuable resources. To further streamline and optimize this process, implementing or enhancing inventory management software is crucial. This technology can automate various inventory-related tasks, such as inventory adjustments, reordering, and tracking. With visual AI, brands can also gain a wealth of data regarding demand and engagement without asking for sensitive data from customers. These systems provide real-time visibility into inventory levels, offer alerts for low-stock situations, and can automatically generate purchase orders, ensuring that stock levels are always in sync with demand. 3. Content review and audit This process begins with a meticulous examination of all existing content to identify inaccuracies, outdated information, or errors. While it may seem daunting, brands can deploy automated content analysis tools that can scan vast amounts of content efficiently, flagging discrepancies and inaccuracies. These tools can perform tasks like spell-checking, grammar-checking, and semantic analysis. Accuracy in product details is important, particularly during BFCM, as customers rely on precise specifications, sizes, colors, and availability information. Pricing accuracy is another crucial technical aspect, so double-check to ensure that all of your pricing information aligns with special Black Friday promotions and is accurate throughout the website. This can be facilitated through automated price-checking scripts that validate the displayed prices against the pricing database, highlighting any discrepancies and facilitating corrections in real time. Moreover, the implementation of automated discount and coupon code validation is key. Technical systems can be employed to ensure that any discounts, coupon codes, and special offers are correctly applied during the checkout process. This involves creating rule-based scripts that verify the validity of codes and discounts against the applicable terms and conditions, guaranteeing that customers receive the expected benefits. 4. Email campaign testing Email is lucrative – the return on investment (ROI) for email marketing stands at a remarkable $36 for every $1 invested. By employing email testing tools and services, you can thoroughly examine and improve your brand’s email infrastructure. Use these tools to check for proper configuration, SPF/DKIM records, and overall email deliverability. These tests help verify that your emails will reach the recipients’ inboxes without being flagged as spam and that links within the emails are functioning correctly. Personalization and segmentation are also areas you’ll need to thoroughly test before sending out your Black Friday email campaigns. This can entail setting up automated systems that segment your email list based on site interactions, user behavior, preferences, and demographics. Personalized messages are generated dynamically using customer data, which not only enhances targeting but also requires well-structured database queries and API integrations to retrieve the necessary information. Creating different versions of email content is a process that involves content management systems and email marketing platforms. Brands must craft various versions, including subject lines, body text, images, and calls to action (CTAs). To determine the most effective elements, A/B testing is an essential technique. Technical tools can then track open rates, click-through rates, and other key performance indicators to identify the most successful content variations. 5. Customer support To prepare customer support for increased Black Friday inquiries and issues, retailers should look into customer relationship management (CRM) software equipped with advanced ticketing and task management capabilities. These tools facilitate efficient allocation of support requests with real-time monitoring of workloads and automated escalations, ensuring that customer inquiries are addressed and resolved promptly. Testing customer support channels, including chat, email, and phone, involves load-testing tools and real-time monitoring systems. Load testing ensures that these channels can handle the anticipated surge in inquiries without disruptions or delays. Concurrently, monitoring systems track response times and issue resolution rates, helping support teams identify and address bottlenecks in their communication infrastructure promptly. To enhance efficiency, virtual assistants and chatbots are integral in addressing common customer inquiries. The setup for these tools involves natural language processing algorithms, machine learning models, and chatbot frameworks. Within the AI-driven care ecosystem, approximately 65% of tasks and between 50% and 70% of interactions are automated, resulting in a genuinely omnichannel experience that ensures consistency and seamlessness across all customer interactions. Testing Your Way to Triumph The journey to BFCM success for your brand hinges on meticulous preparation. The tests and technical measures discussed in this article are the foundational steps that empower your brand to thrive during this intense shopping period. From website loading optimization to email campaign testing, content review, inventory checks, and customer support readiness, each aspect plays a critical role in creating a seamless and rewarding experience for your customers.