Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) is coming. The approach of the biggest shopping weekend of the year is to store owners as winter is to Ned Stark. “Brace yourselves,” it says. Lucky for you, BFCM is still over two months away and there’s plenty of time to prepare your store for the increase in traffic and sales.
And, we’re here to help you do just that.
Before you dismiss BFCM as an event just for the big players, stick with us—there is plenty of data to support that the event can be beneficial to businesses of any size. And, you can participate without killing your margins.
What is BFCM?
At some point in history—exactly when is up for debate—shopping became as synonymous with American Thanksgiving as turkey and football. The day after Thanksgiving has been known, for as long as most of us can remember, as Black Friday. It’s a day of door crashers, deep discounts, and line ups around the block.
In the past decade, Cyber Monday joined the ranks to bring online stores into the fold.
Because many Shopify merchants sell on multiple channels, both online and in store, the two events blend into one, providing an opportunity to capture sales across the whole weekend. In fact, many merchants run sales the weeks leading up to and after BFCM, too.
Therefore, for the purposes of this post and our future educational content, we’ll refer to them as one: Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM).
The History of Black Friday Cyber Monday
According to some, Black Friday earned its name from the Philadelphia Police Department sometime in the late 50s or 60s. The concept (massive shopping deals after Thanksgiving) was already in full swing, causing traffic and chaos in the city. Philly PD called the day Black Friday in an effort to sully the event’s reputation and deter consumer madness.
We all know how well that turned out.
Cyber Monday was added to the fray in 2005. Media picked up the term immediately, and it has since toppled Black Friday out of its spot as busiest shopping day of the year.
Any way you slice it, BFCM’s roots aren’t pretty, and its reputation followed it into the 21st century, where every year, crushing crowds, crashing websites, and customer brawls dominate the media.
But, the tides are turning.
While BFCM originated in the US, it has caught like wildfire, spreading due to the increase in cross-border shopping. According to a 2016 Borderfree study, BFCM orders were up globally, with countries like India seeing as much as 173% growth over the previous year. And, Shopify merchants in Denmark generated six times the number of orders on Black Friday last year versus an average day.
BFCM is undeniably a huge sales opportunity for businesses of every size in any part of the world. It is no longer an event owned solely by massive chain retailers.
BFCM is undeniably a huge sales opportunity for businesses of every size in any part of the world.
In recent years, the advent of Small Business Saturday and Giving Tuesday aimed to broaden (and soften) BFCM and make it approachable to small businesses and consumers alike.
Why (and how) should you participate in BFCM?
The short answer: people are spending money, and shouldn’t some of it go in your pocket?
In 2016, Cyber Monday sales hit an all time high, with consumers spending $3.45 billion USD in a single day. And, in the same year Black Friday traffic was up 220% over a regular day.
Those figures include powerhouses like Amazon and WalMart, but if you think the giants were the only winners, think again: at BFCM’s peak last year, Shopify merchants alone generated $555,716 in a single minute!
Now, more than ever, small and independent businesses have a real opportunity to get in on the action. Why? “Consumers want personalized attention,” says a BDC study, and who better to deliver than smaller businesses that can have closer relationships with their smaller customer bases.
A Deloitte study agrees, asserting that customers expect brands to know them and treat them as if they matter. This is where small businesses shine.
Customers expect brands to know them and treat them as if they matter. This is where small businesses shine.
Small businesses frankly can’t compete with big box door-crasher pricing, but there are many ways to ride the BFCM hype without deep cuts to your margins.
In 2015, we visited several Shopify retail stores across North America, and discovered that store owners found creative ways to offer exclusive deals, develop limited-run products, treat customers to in-store events, and give back to causes that matter.
How is Shopify helping you through BFCM?
We recognize the massive opportunity that the event offers to merchants, but that it can be intimidating, too. This year, we want you to win BFCM. We’re here to help independent merchants and small businesses get in on the action.
We aim to be your go-to resource for all things BFCM. Over the next 2 months, we’ll be providing you with tools, product updates, support, and educational content to get you over the finish line.
What you should do right now
Life comes at you fast and the busiest shopping time of the year is no exception. There are plenty of things you can do right now to get your store BFCM ready.
- Do I have enough inventory to get through the holidays? Look at your sales from last year—do you need to produce or order more?
- Would my brand benefit from an in-person event? Many markets are now accepting applications for holiday vendors.
- Do I need more staff to handle increased orders? You may need to hire extra staff to support online order fulfillment or increased foot traffic in your brick and mortar store.
- What will be my offer? Begin to plan your campaign at a high-level, noting any assets, apps, inventory, etc. you might need to pull it off.
There are plenty of things you can do right now to get your store BFCM ready.
This is also a great time to begin generating anticipation among your fans or existing customers. Are you launching a new holiday product? Give your biggest advocates a sneak peek. Are you offering an exclusive deal for subscribers or followers? Communicate the benefits of joining your email list or following on social.
A great way to create buzz is using a countdown clock. Install Powr’s Countdown Timer, available in the Shopify App Store.
And, if you don’t have a store yet, now is the time to start.
What you should expect from us on the road to BFCM?
We’re here with you every step of the way. Now that you’ve asked yourself a few key questions and have BFCM planning top of mind, be sure that you don’t miss all of the great content we have planned.
Here’s what’s coming up:
We’re busy working on the educational and inspirational blog content that you’ve come to expect from us, but through a BFCM lens. Check out (and bookmark) our BFCM topic page.
In its second year, our BFCM webinar series walks you through the ins and outs of planning successful campaigns, developing a traffic strategy, creating a buying frenzy, and measuring success. Beginning October 27th, our 4-part webinar series is a can’t-miss. Stay tuned for updates!
Tips and Motivation
Follow our up-to-the-minute BFCM social programming by joining the Shopify community on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. We’re bringing you selling tips, interviews with merchants, and motivation to keep you pumped.
Share your deals and successes with us by using the hashtag #BFCMwin.
New and Updated Products and Features
As always, we’re working to make Shopify better, releasing channels and features to help you sell more products to more people in more places. Over the next two months, we have dozens of product updates coming your way, and we’re happy to announce two of them today:
To help you more easily create a beautiful online store, we’ve updated our image picker in the Theme Editor. Now, you can see live previews of images in your store and access thousands of free stock images from Burst—all without ever leaving Shopify. Try it now.
Checkout with Phone
Sell more by offering more options at checkout. An increasing number of people are using phone numbers instead of email when shopping online. By enabling Checkout with Phone, your customers can check out with a phone number and receive order updates by text message. Learn more or visit Checkout Settings.
Coming soon: in the next few weeks, we’ll be launching our BFCM Toolbox a one-stop-shop with the tools and info you need to win BFCM.