Imagine this: You started a new job recently and want to get a pair of sleek brown knee high boots to wear to your office in winter. You did a few searches online and then saw the perfect boots in a Facebook retargeting ad. The boots belong to a brand you’ve never purchased from before, but they are exactly what you had in mind — and they’re going to be half off on Black Friday. You excitedly click on the ad, bookmark the product page, and get ready to come back on November 26 to grab this awesome deal. But when you return, the boots are out of stock and all of the website’s suggestions for similar items are way out of your price range. Disappointed with the product discovery journey, you leave the site and start looking elsewhere.
This is exactly the type of customer experience brands and retailers want to avoid on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Your site is about to receive a huge influx of first-time shoppers, all eagerly waiting to snap up those BFCM deals. If they can’t find what they’re looking for, they may never return — and all of that hard work your brand put into preparing for Black Friday goes to waste. That’s why creating a seamless product discovery journey is so important — it can make or break your ability to convert new shoppers into satisfied customers who are likely to return for more positive experiences.
So, amid the BFCM rush, how do you ensure that your target audience will find your brand and products at the most opportune moment? It’s all about your customer touchpoints — you need to provide accurate, relevant, intuitive, and personalized search results and recommendations. That’s why we put together this blog for you to take inspiration from our top picks of key product discovery experiences that you can implement just in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Why Is Effective Product Discovery So Crucial During BFCM?
Black Friday weekend is one of the most highly anticipated shopping events of the year. Consumers know that great deals are limited within the four-day period—and many of them will hunt for those amazing bargains. When retailers can’t surface the right products at the right time, highly motivated shoppers will simply go elsewhere — they’re not going to waste their precious minutes looking for a needle in a haystack on your site. That’s why it’s critical to get your product discovery infrastructure in top shape before the big weekend.
Here are seven crucial product discovery experiences you can recreate to help ensure success during this year’s Black Friday weekend sale.
1. Make It Easy to Navigate Your Inventory With Image Search
Not all shoppers can verbalize what they want to buy. Maybe they saw an item while browsing on social media or they took a photo of inspiration from real life. When planning for BFCM, one of the easiest ways to connect your shoppers with their ideal products is by offering image search. Even when customers do not have the right keywords, this option allows discovery to begin by simply uploading a product photo. It also triggers continuous discovery as the search engine can spot other relevant items within the image. This is particularly useful in shopping categories such as fashion, home decor, and jewelry where shoppers are motivated not only by visuals but also context and style.
2. Offer Visual Product Suggestions Right From the Search Bar
Another way to help shoppers uncover the right products among thousands of different SKUs is to visually showcase relevant options right at the beginning of the search journey. For example, you can pepper in visual product suggestions while shoppers type into the search bar. This can provide inspiration and make the product discovery journey much easier for shoppers who search for more generic phrases, and for those who know exactly what they want, it can quickly help them zero in on the perfect result. Ultimately, by showing on-point visual product suggestions straight from the get-go, you will enhance the customer experience and give fast-paced customers a direct and convenient path to purchase.
3. Create Special BFCM Menus & Filters to Simplify the Search Process
Shoppers do not have the time to sift through thousands of SKUs, especially when sales and deals are time-sensitive and traffic is at a record high. Give your visitors an easier time finding the products they want by offering special navigation menus that highlight and separate discounted items from the rest of your catalogue. For example, you can create a Black Friday menu with navigation options that let shoppers search by price, brand, collection, or special offers. You don’t have to stop there. You can also change your regular search filters so that pricing options are listed first and you can add special sale filters to identify the products that will be on deep discount for BFCM. Make sure your sale filter stands out from year-round options by using bolded text, different colors, or special icons (like a star, heart, or dollar sign) to catch your audience’s eye.
4. Make Sure Your Products Surface at Crucial Touchpoints
Shopping inspiration can happen anywhere. Potential customers can be watching videos, reading emails, browsing through search results, checking blogs and online magazines, or tuning in to their favorite influencers’ content. In fact, nearly 3 in 4 online users are always on the lookout for relevant brands and products — which means it’s up to you to meet customers when and where the magic happens. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Link your posts on social media to product pages on your site.
- Create shoppable content on livestreams.
- Facilitate peer-to-peer product discovery by enabling shoppers to get product suggestions from fellow users across your different social channels.
- Engage influencers to promote your most popular products or biggest Black Friday deals.
- Make sure external search engines surface your website on the first page of results by having your product detail pages reflect BFCM keywords.
- Spread dynamic remarketing ads with Black Friday promotions across different channels to attract your intended audience.
5. Set Up Smart Merchandising Rules Based on Pricing
How you group, rank, and present your merchandise on Black Friday matters. BFCM shoppers are price-sensitive and discount-driven, so it’s in your brand’s best interest to put the most relevant items in view for each individual shopper. With smart merchandising rules, you can ensure that the right products and promotions are displayed at the right time. For example, if a shopper is looking at the product detail page for a long-sleeved red blouse that’s on sale for $15, you can make sure that your site only includes recommendations for other items within 10% of that price range. For Black Friday shoppers who are more price conscious than usual, this can be an extremely effective tool. Remember our scenario above? If an item runs out of stock and the recommendations for similar items exceed a shopper’s budget, it can end their shopping journey on your site. On the other hand, if you display similar items in the same price range, you are much more likely to earn your brand a happy new customer.
6. Contextualize Products With Theme-Based Content
The most successful Black Friday campaigns will maximize all relevant channels that you have at your disposal. In addition to the usual banners and landing pages, you can publish content like blog posts, gift guides, and style videos to nurture inspiration around your products. Wherever shoppers can consume your content (website, email, social media, etc.), make sure it is shoppable and that users can easily find the products that you want to feature.
7. Enable Shoppers to Find Similar Products
It’s inevitable that you may run out of stock during the most anticipated shopping event of the year. But this does not have to spell the end of the customer journey so long as you can recommend other highly targeted, relevant products to the right shoppers at the right time. So, get creative with your recommendation engines and carousels. If a shopper reaches the product detail page for an item that is no longer available, add a prompt to shop for similar items instead of relying on them to sign up for notifications of when the product is back in stock (Black Friday shoppers will most likely not sign up at all – they’ll just jump to a different site). Make sure your “shop similar” recommendation carousels are easy to find (above the fold) so consumers don’t have to go through endless scrolling. Or make it even easier for shoppers by adding a special shop similar icon on individual product photos that allows them to quickly view other products that are similar to the item in the picture.
The Bottom Line: Highlight Value Across the Customer Journey
Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend is an opportunity for your brand to attract new customers and improve your relationship with existing customers. Make sure you create a memorable user experience by creating seamless product discovery journeys that make each type of shopper want to come back for more. High-intent shoppers need to quickly find what they’re looking for while casual browsers need easy access to inspirational photos and product recommendations in line with their price preferences. By setting up each of your customer touchpoints for intuitive product discovery, you’ll provide the best possible outcome for each different type of shopper — and give them a reason to visit your site again in the future.