7 Insider Secrets for SMBs for Nailing Customer Commerce during the Sales Season December 1, 2023 With the sale’s season well and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) now passed, to the upcoming Christmas sales, being unprepared for surges in visitors can cost small and medium-sized businesses untold revenue and destroy customer loyalty. Some over the Black Friday sales, reports came in of delay notices on website placing customers in a queue with a 10 min wait and then a 10 min window to enter the store. If you moved off the screen, the clock restarted. Other notices informed customers that checkout might be slow due to high demand. Shoppers don’t wait. There are plenty of other retailers to buy from if your site can handle high peaks of web visits. If you were caught flat footed, now is the time to get prepared so it never happens again. Consumers have dramatically turned to online shopping in recent years, with 55% of holiday shoppers surveyed saying they prefer online shopping.1 How can online retailers best prepare for the unexpected stress on their systems that holiday shopping brings? This is where Customer Commerce comes into play. Customer Commerce is all about before, during and after the sale. It’s everything wrapped together. Preparation is key to handling the scale of holiday shopping. If small businesses don’t manage the holiday rush of shoppers, they will be leaving money on the table. StoreConnect is a content management system and an e-commerce system in-one that works through the world’s number one CRM, Salesforce without the need for any additional tools. And, it’s all centered on Customer Commerce. If small businesses don’t manage the holiday rush of shoppers, they will be leaving money on the table Here are seven common mistakes that SMB online retailers make around that kill Customer Commerce. They don’t approach sales season from a holistic Customer Commerce viewpoint. Retailers cannot treat online shopping as just another transaction with a faceless customer, because 96% of customers will leave a retailer if they receive bad service.2 SMBs must use their superpower, their ability to deliver individual service to their customers and get to know them and remembering that every interaction with a customer is an opportunity to leave a good or a bad impression. Using Black Friday and Cyber Monday to create a multitude of new relationships is a must and working out how to convert these into long-lasting, long-term relationships with the customer is key to future success. They assume their systems will “just work.” If a retailer believes Black Friday is going to be big for them, then they must have plans in place with their technical team to help handle any potential IT issue that arises on the day. Whether it is a site outage, technical glitch or just an incorrectly priced item, these issues can rapidly multiply and escalate in cost in terms of revenue, ranking and loyalty during a high traffic period. For instance, some studies have indicated that 9% of a site’s visitors never return to a website they find down, with nearly one in 10 current and future sales lost.3 They rely only on discounts and offer limited shipping options. Online retailers must be ready and willing to adapt and evolve with consumers and the trends. Whether it is strategic pricing to entice early bird shoppers, carefully managing of return policies or using intelligent pricing strategies, shoppers expect options, especially with the current economic uncertainty.4 They don’t plan promotions in a timely manner. Promoting in a planned manner, well in advance, is always the best. Making up promotions “off the cuff” might work, or it might not. Lindsaar advises online retailers to take a survey of sales from previous years, or their clients or other friends in the industry, to find out what works and what doesn’t. Then let clients know early on about any Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. They promote too early. On the flip side of mistake No. 4, online retailers don’t want to start promoting too early as customers who would otherwise come to their site to buy something might decide it would be better to delay their purchase until Black Friday or Cyber Monday to save. A common mistake is to start advertising Black Friday or Cyber Monday plans on their website. Advertisements on the website shouldn’t begin until the special offers are live and available to be used. One very effective strategy is to let existing customers know about Black Friday or Cyber Monday plans via newsletters, offering them the ability to “get in early” and use those discounts as a thank you for being a loyal customer, which not only makes them feel special, but also flattens the spike of sales over a longer period, making it easier on the company’s team. They don’t track the effectiveness of campaigns. This is probably the number one mistake seen. Online retailers need to make sure they have a way to track where every sale comes from, how many of what promotion was used, did existing customers take advantage of the special offers or did they just wait for the specials? Only by tracking these kinds of details can an online retailer determine how effective a campaign was with their customers. They only offer promotions on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. While online retailers should focus their specials on these days for new prospects, they can show their appreciation to existing customers by offering them extended hours to use any promotions. Customer Commerce levels the playing field The existing stack of systems that small businesses are running their e-commerce experience with can include between 15 and 20 different SaaS products—Shopify, Zendesk for customer support, HubSpot for CRM, MailChimp to send out emails, a voucher management system to handle gift cards, Google Analytics, their accounting system, their stock management system, their shipping system, their shipping fulfilment system, their return system, and so on. If one of those systems fails or doesn’t communicate with another, a small business risks their whole system falling apart when put under the stress of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Customer Commerce allows SMBs to handle the scale of things like Black Friday before they happen. StoreConnect lets small to medium businesses have customer commerce for $5,000 a year. “StoreConnect gives small and medium-sized businesses the same ability to transform the shopping experience that retailers like Amazon, Macy’s and Walmart offer without having to invest millions of dollars into platforms. References: 1 “2023 Holiday Shopping by the Numbers”; Retail TouchPoints; Accessed 11/1/2023; retailtouchpoints.com/resources/2023-holiday-shopping-by-the-numbers. 2 Hyken, Shep; “Ninety-Six Percent Of Customers Will Leave You For Bad Customer Service”: Forbes; July 12, 2020]; forbes.com/sites/shephyken/2020/07/12/ninety-six-percent-of-customers-will-leave-you-for-bad-customer-service/?sh=7b9c335c30f8. 3 “Calculate the true cost of website downtime”; Uptrends; August 20, 2020; blog.uptrends.com/technology/calculate-the-true-cost-of-website-downtime/ 4 Avidor, Roy; “2023 Holiday Shopping Season Insights and Trends”; Nasdaq; October 24, 2023; nasdaq.com/articles/2023-holiday-shopping-season-insights-and-trends.