What Is Cyber Monday?
Cyber Monday is a major eCommerce-exclusive shopping event that falls on the first Monday after Thanksgiving weekend. It’s one of the most anticipated sales-boosting opportunities for businesses and shippers as consumers eagerly await exclusive BFCM deals and discounts.
According to the National Retail Federation, 179.8 million unique consumers made in-store and online purchases during the 2021 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, exceeding NRF’s initial estimates by more than 21 million.
In this article, we’ll discuss how retailers and shippers can prepare for Cyber Monday to ensure a strong holiday shopping season.
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Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday deals only apply to online stores, but the Black Friday shopping event is primarily also in-store. Secondly, Cyber Monday is strictly a one-day shopping event, while Black Friday has begun to extend to as many as five days. It is tough to say which day is better for sales because it depends on your business and sales model.
Every year large and small businesses use the Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend to drive record sales by offering price reductions to buyers to kick off the shopping season. So, if you miss out on your sales targets for Black Friday, you can make up for them on Cyber Monday.
In 2019, Black Friday was the faraway leader for in-store sales, with 84.2 million shoppers, compared to Cyber Monday’s 21.8 million (National Retail Federation, 2019).
The rise in online sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic has helped Cyber Monday beat Black Friday for the last few holiday seasons. According to Adobe Analytics, Black Friday sales stood at $8.9 billion in 2021, whereas Cyber Monday raked in $10.7 billion.
Tips for Shippers on Cyber Monday
Here are some of the best ways shippers ensure seamless sales and prevent shipping delays during the peak shopping season.
1. Keep an Eye on Delivery Cutoff Dates
Delivery cut-off dates are the carrier deadlines you have to ship an order by for it to reach the customer in time for the holidays. Since there is a surge in small parcel volume during the peak season, major carriers like FedEx and UPS announce shipping deadlines to take the pressure off and ensure deliveries are made on time.
Ensure you effectively communicate these deadlines to your customer in your online store to avoid disappointment. For example, you can create a banner on your website homepage or post a countdown timer on your social media page to let your customers know the last possible time you can ship an order to receive it in time for the holidays.
Another effective shipping strategy is to factor in your lead times for receiving, processing, and fulfilling orders.
2. Confirm Your Return Policy
The holiday shipping season and peak returns season go hand in hand. Peak season can bring stress and chaos for many shippers as they face a rise in order delays and errors. You need to proactively prepare and manage returns more than the regular shipping season.
As noted by the National Retail Federation and Appriss Retail, the return rate in the U.S. increased from 10.6% in 2020 to 16.6% ($761 Billion) in 2021. To combat the woes of the peak returns, you should prepare early by utilizing data from past peak seasons to identify and correct any issues in your order fulfillment.
Even then, peak season returns will likely happen, and you need to preserve customer experience and protect your profitability. As noted by the 2022 Omnichannel Returns Index study, 95% of online shoppers are less likely to buy from a store again if they have had a poor returns experience.
So, you must create a clear returns policy and post it on your website. Similarly, it’s best to optimize your reverse logistics setup to resell those items. This way, you can create a great return experience when your customers want to return their purchases and maintain profitability.
3. Set Smart Free Shipping Strategies
Free shipping is a key element of a Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales strategy. Online customers are willing to spend more money during the Christmas shopping season.
Free shipping can help you create a gotta-have-it deal when your customers consider purchasing a product. Shipping cost savings can sometimes be enough to lure them into buying the product.
An effective free shipping strategy to boost holiday sales is to impose a minimum order value to qualify for free shipping. This helps nudge customers to add one or two extra items to the shopping cart they were unsure about buying.
Another alternative is to allow free shipping to limited locations, as shipping abroad can be costly for eCommerce stores. Shippers can offer free shipping to those in their own country, or even region, or you can offer free shipping from the distribution center to a local retail outlet.
4. Announce Cyber Monday Deals Early
Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday are the biggest online shopping days of the year. As noted by Adobe Analytics Cyber Week, sales are expected to hit $34.8 Billion in the 2022 holiday season, up 2.8% from last year.
Many customers start their holiday shopping earlier than ever before. Don’t wait until the last minute to promote your Cyber Monday deals. Make your best Cyber Monday deals weeks or months before the shopping event, as it drives earlier ordering of your products and eases the pressure on your order fulfillment operations. It also helps you ship orders sooner to offset potential delays and deliver products to your customers in time for the holidays.
Many retailers, such as Amazon, Walmart, Apple, and Best Buy, announce early Cyber Monday and Black Friday sales with deep discounts on big-ticket items like laptops, smartphones, TVs, and toys.
5. Help Your Customers Understand What to Expect
Shippers struggle with customer communication as shipping delays continue to impact the online retail industry during the peak season. In fact, it’s the only thing you can control, i.e., keeping good terms with customers by communicating effectively about potential delivery issues.
Buyers want to know when their package will arrive, so it’s essential to set clear expectations about expected delivery times. They are generally more affable when they’re informed about possible shipping problems before placing the order.
Use messaging on your website homepage and order emails to communicate estimated shipping and delivery times, and update your shipping policy if your shipments may be delayed by a few days.
6. Prepare for Peak Season Surcharges
The peak season surcharge is an additional charge during the holiday shopping season to help cover the operational costs that carriers face due to the high demand for home delivery services. Carriers like UPS, FedEx, USPS, and Amazon impose peak surcharges on top of regular base rates and surcharges.
Every year when the peak season is around the corner, shippers start fretting about volume order surges and extra shipping fees. As businesses rely on the holiday season to increase revenue and sales, paying the peak season surcharges is inevitable. However, there are ways for you to reduce the impact of peak season surcharges on your business. These include:
- Plan ahead to ship your orders as early in the peak season as possible. This helps you minimize the fuel surcharges you pay as fuel prices rise later in the holiday season. Moreover, it will also help you prevent shipping delays and deliver packages faster to your customers.
- If you have a brick-and-mortar store, you can offer alternative delivery shipping options to your customers, like curbside pick up and buy-online-pay-in-store (BOPIS). This way, you can avoid paying hefty peak season surcharges while allowing customers to collect orders at their convenience.
- Minimize the money you spend on peak season surcharges by consolidating packages going to the same customer. It will also allow you to lower handling costs per package and require fewer packaging materials.
Plan for Cyber Monday with Sifted
Prepare for the Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend as early as possible, ideally before the holiday season kicks off. This gives you plenty of time to plan and execute your shipping strategy that exceeds customer expectations and brings in record sales.
Peak season challenges such as shortages, carrier constraints, and shifts in customer habits are going to be around for a while. Increase visibility in your shipping operations in order to respond to them effectively.
Sifted Logistics Intelligence helps you accurately gauge your shipping profile, identify and address blind spots in your shipping operations, and make critical business decisions to prepare for the holiday season.
Iron out your shipping operations for a smoother peak season. Get a free demo from Sifted!