Goodbye Black Friday, Hello Gray November: Is Your Magento Store Ready For Holidays?

Magento Gray November Black-Friday

“Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer the official start to the holiday season. They’re merely a part of it.” - Bronto Software

Crazy shopping days are around the corner, if you want to get a maximum profit during this period, you have to be sure that your Magento store is prepared for it. As known, such days as Black Friday and Cyber Monday always have been a great opportunity for stores to make money, but the situation is changing. Recent years, the holiday shopping season begins long before the Thanksgiving week. Bronto Software, one of the leading Magento partners, calls this phenomenon Gray November. It is explained by the fact that merchants have started to offer discounts and special deals earlier, hoping to be the first who will attract seasonal shoppers. Today, we want to help you prepare your seasonal strategy for a longer shopping period. As you understand from the article’s title, we will concentrate our attention especially on Magento stores. So, if you are ready, let’s start!

Magento As the Best Commerce Solution for Shopping Season

You are a Magento store owner, well then you are already a winner. Why? Everything is easy. With more than 250,000 merchants around the globe (in the USA, Australia, the UK, Germany, Spain, etc.), Magento is the most popular commerce platform in the world. It is perfect for big retail events, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The robust and flexible solution has everything necessary to handle thousands of products and its features serve different clients, large and small. On Magento it is possible to run a special Black Friday promotion within a store, allowing for sales stock to start and stop automatically. 

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Statistics for 2015

Now, we offer you to look at the previous year’s statistics in order to be aware of the latest trends.

  • Online business owners revenue for the period starting from Black Friday to Christmas was 50-100% higher compared to shopping days throughout the rest of the year.
  • More and more people prefer to shop online rather than in-store. In 2015, Currys PC World reported a record-breaking 30 TVs selling EACH MINUTE online after the release of Black Friday deals in the early morning on the day itself.
  • According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the amount of shoppers during Black Friday and Cyber Monday exceeded all expectations. 151 million consumers bought items on Black Friday. It surpassed forecasts of 136 million consumers which the NRF had announced before the period started.
  • More and more people use mobile devices to shop online. In 2015, the amount of mobile shoppers has significantly grown. 34% of all online holiday purchases were made through smartphones.  
  • However, also the statistics shows that the significance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is declining as merchants start to offer discounts earlier and continue through December. 

7 Main Tips on Preparing Your Magento Store for the Busy Season

Even when Magento platform has a variety of features, which help to handle thousands of orders, you still need to customize it for the busy period, because sometimes the amount of orders exceed all expectations. Let’s imagine one situation. It is the morning of November 26th (the day after Black Friday). You want to check overnight sales figures. You open the laptop and log into Magento backend. And what do you see? - Internal Server Error. You will go to the front page of your store and see the same error! Too much traffic was driven for the server to handle. So, what should you do to avoid such kind of problems and increase your sales for this shopping season? 

Tip 1 - Study the Numbers and Forecast the Load for Black Friday

First of all, you need to overview the numbers, which you have for quite not-holiday period. Use Google Analytics or other management systems to check the the data for the previous month, week or day. Find out how many visitors are coming per day in average and assume how many you should expect for busy shopping days.

Estimate the conversion rate and how quickly traffic will arrive. All at midnight or steadily during the whole day?

Tip 2 - Enhance Your Magento Store Performance

You should find an extension that will help you handle the holiday traffic. Go to Magento Connect and look for the Magento service to optimize your website performance. You can use a free solution or buy one of them, it is up to you:

Magento Connect performance optimization

Find extension that can help you:

  • To increase the amount of visitors your store can handle;
  • To reduce page load times (it keeps shoppers on your site longer);
  • To increase the amount of pageviews; 
  • To lowers a bounce rate and decrease abandonment.

Tip 3 - Simplify the checkout process. 

According to statistics, a shopping cart abandonment rate has reached 69 percent. It is terrible numbers! You can avoid it by simplifying the checkout process on your store. Speaking about Magento, we offer you to use a special One Step Checkout module. On Magento Connect, there is a great variety of them. 

Magento Connect one step checkout

A solution will allow you to change the standard checkout process in Magento. The key feature of such solution is reducing the six standard Magento checkout steps down to one. A user just needs to fill in his/her address and choose delivery/payment methods on the same page, and no longer needs to do a separate step for each action. It will reduce a shopping cart abandonment and consequently boost your eCommerce sales.

Tip 4 - Make Sure Your Magento Site is Mobile Ready

The essential part of Magento store preparation is checking if it is mobile friendly. As we see from last year statistics, almost half of all traffic in November and December came from mobile. We are sure that you do not want to suffer from something avoidable like poor formatting. Your mobile theme has to be responsive. Ask someone of your team to review store pages and give honest feedback. If you find a bug or things that need some improvements, turn to your Magento support provider and ask him to fix it. 

Tip 5 - Integrate Social Media

The best way to promote your products on social media is adding social sharing buttons to the product pages. The most popular sites are Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. Such approach will turn your satisfied customers into sellers and bring more shoppers to your store. Also, you can use social pages to promote your special deals for the holiday shopping season.

Tip 6 -  Inform Your Customers about Upcoming Sales

The easiest way to inform about your holiday sales is to add a banner or update your existing header on your homepage. Also, you can decorate your store by adding special icons or animations reflecting a shopping season atmosphere. Today, it is hard to stand out from the crowd. So, you need to prepare something special to attract customers attention and make them shopping on your store. A good example is ALRUG handmade carpets store build on Magento:

Magento store holiday sales banner

 

They use bright banners to inform their customers about season sales and a free shipping. 

 

Magento store black friday sales bann

 

You can use special templates such as Magento BlackFriday Template and Magento Bigsale Template to place the special holiday headers and promotion banners.

Tip 7 - Personalize your content.

And the last advice will be to personalize your store content to each individual customer in accordance with his/her interests and behavior. Customers really love the fact that something has been recommended just for them. According to one marketing report, the first name personalization increases your click-through-rate from about 5% to 7%. It is another opportunity to truly succeed with consumers and boost your sales this fall shopping season. 

The Gray November offers its own gift to merchants. It is a chance to sell more items and services. As, we see from statistics, the sales really grow during this period. But to have a really successful and beneficial holiday shopping time you need to put best foot forward. We have given you the advices based on our own and our clients experience. So, we guaranty that they really work. Now, it is time for you to apply all these tips above and get the higher revenues in the month ahead!

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