The biggest online shopping day in U.S. retail history was Cyber Monday 2012, with sales that were 30 percent higher than the Monday after Thanksgiving in 2011, according to IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark [PDF].
Here’s what online merchants nationwide should be doing right now to get ready for Cyber Monday 2013 (Dec. 2), which is poised to break previous records.
1. Check your inventory. Phil Masiello, founder and president of 800Razors.com, says having sufficient inventory and being able to fulfill orders quickly, are the keys to sales success during a busy time.
“When preparing for holiday sales, make sure to bring in extra inventory and packaging to make turn-around time smoother,” Masiello advises. “Manufacturing and order fulfillment in the USA makes it much easier to replenish supplies when demand increases, and that makes happier customers.”
2. Increase your staff. If necessary, hire seasonal workers during the holidays to get orders out the door quickly (see #1). “Fulfilling orders is a time-consuming process, especially for small e-commerce businesses competing with monopoly-like companies,” Masiello says. “Being slow in e-commerce is no longer an acceptable business practice.”
3. Make sure your site is secure. Consumers want assurance that their credit and debit card data is safe when they buy from you online. “In 2012, there were at least 682 breaches resulting in the theft of nearly 28 million consumer records,” says Rob Nathan, chief technology officer at CardConnect. “That’s the highest number of successful attacks ever recorded.”
A security breach can be expensive, because you may be fined and lose customers. “E-commerce businesses should use encryption and tokenization, which are two security methods that basically scramble cardholder data, store it in an off-site vault, and assign it a unique identifier known as a token,” Nathan says. “Even if hackers breach the system, the data they steal will be unreadable and meaningless — and a holiday crisis is averted.”
4. Engage with customers. Want customers to think of you on Cyber Monday? Engage with them now, says Maia Singletary, owner of Astrida Naturals. “I’m starting now to increase user engagement through social media contests in an effort to maximize awareness for the holiday online shopping season,” she says.
Her strategy is to use social media giveaways throughout November to grow brand awareness and her email list before the holidays. “By giving away a gift card for our own [skin care] products, we’ll attract potential customers who are interested in Astrida Naturals and want to connect and hear from us again,” Singletary says. “The main hub for our giveaways will be on Facebook, but we’ll be promoting throughout our other social media channels as well.”