Cyber 5 Matters Checklist for Retailers to Make the Most of Black Friday to Cyber Monday

The Cyber 5 weekend—from Black Friday to Cyber Monday—is almost upon us. And it promises to be a big one.

Identifying what you need to be prepared for in an era of uncertainty isn’t easy, but you’re not in this alone. We’ve broken down what you need to do to prepare into easy-to-follow to-do lists so you’re ready for anything that comes your way.

Cyber 5 Matters Checklist for Retailers to Make the Most of Black Friday to Cyber Monday

Content Summary

What does the 2021 holiday season have in store?
Small Business Saturday: your Cyber Five day to shine
To-do list: prep your stock and store
To-do list: plan for sales and promotions
To-do list: launch your marketing plan
Get ready for Cyber five with the one-stop platform for holiday retail

We’re in a holiday season unlike any other.

By necessity, 2020 changed the game. Customers adapted and turned to avenues like eCommerce and curbside pickup to get their purchases.

Now that we’re in 2021, we’re seeing the aftershocks of a year of new pandemic habits and customer behaviors. You need to know what stuck and what changed, what evolved, and what you can leave behind.

That’s why this year’s Cyber five matters so much. The time between Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) is a chance to innovate and adapt to meet your customers where they are now. It’s a chance to boost your revenue via multiple channels and send a signal to your customers and competitors that you’re ready for what the next year is going to bring.

Luckily, you’re not in this alone. We’re dedicated to helping retailers face their new reality, tracking changes in the industry, and keeping an eye on what customers want.

Here’s what you need to know, and what you should do about it.

What does the 2021 holiday season have in store?

Projected sales numbers for the 2021 holiday season in the United States stand at over one trillion—$1.093 trillion, to be exact. This is going to be the first year holiday sales break into the trillions. In 2019, the same period totaled $729.3 billion.

eCommerce stands to be more important than ever, and while that doesn’t take away from the importance of in-store sales, you need to have a solid online strategy for 2021.

Take, for example, Thanksgiving day—the start of the Black Friday to Cyber Monday blitz known as Cyber five. While Thanksgiving has become an important shopping day to accompany Black Friday, in-store sales on Thanksgiving tend to translate to weaker sales throughout the rest of the Cyber five weekend. Many big-name retailers will be closed on Thanksgiving this year, directing that shopping energy online. If your business is online and customers know about your website, you can get a piece of the activity as well.

But even with eCommerce taking over the Thanksgiving load, you’re likely going to be busy in-store throughout the rest of the weekend. So while you’re getting your eCom store ready, you’ll need to be working hard on hiring, too, which might be harder this year.

PROJECTED SALES FOR THE US 2021 HOLIDAY SEASON STAND AT $1.093 TRILLION

Small Business Saturday: your Cyber Five day to shine

Local shopping has been on the rise, with more shoppers frequenting nearby independent retailers than pre-pandemic.

Whether through online or in-store sales, Small Business Saturday is the day independent retailers can take advantage of that momentum. While Small Business Saturday’s growth slowed down between 2017 and 2019, it saw unprecedented growth in 2020, and that trend should continue.

Local shoppers will expect the conveniences they’ve been able to get at the big-name brands, like buy now, pay later, curbside pickup, and contactless payments, alongside the usual holiday staples. SMBs that are ready with the features and conveniences they want will win out against the competition and have a chance to make an impression that lasts

How are you preparing? Do you know if you have everything you need?

To-do list: prep your stock and store

Getting ready for Cyber Five means making sure you have the right inventory. You need to order the right products in optimal quantities, and that means having tools in place to help you organize and track everything. You’ll also need to get your store ready, which means refreshing your website and preparing your staff for a busier season.

Here is our complete checklist for getting your inventory and store ready:

Secure your holiday stock.

Supply chain disruptions have become the norm. With holiday season inventory historically being a challenge even pre-pandemic, you don’t want to take any chances.

  • Order safety stock. Order extra stock of your anticipated best sellers as a buffer in case you sell out.
  • Make connections with local vendors. Local vendors are the key to getting items restocked more quickly. Establish relationships with any local vendors or suppliers ahead of the holiday season so you’ll have another potential source of inventory during the busy season.
  • Have a Plan B for stock outs. To avoid upsetting customers when their must-haves are out of stock, have a system in place to take special orders.
    • Lightspeed lets you easily create special orders for customers that you can add to purchase orders with just a click. That way, you can notify customers once the products they want are back on the shelves.

Organize your inventory.

A well-organized inventory is foundational year-round, but it’s particularly important during the busy holiday season. You need to be able to check on inventory levels, reorder stock and assess sales without wading through outdated and miscategorized inventory information.

  • Identify dead stock. You should discount stock that hasn’t sold in the last three to six months, as it’s unlikely to sell at full price during the holidays.
    • To avoid spending a lot of time sorting through your sales data to find any dead stock manually, we offer a dusty inventory report through Lightspeed Analytics so you can see your data instantly.
    • If you don’t have historical data, or if you want to track the movement of your stock throughout the holiday season, you can adjust the dusty inventory report to report on shorter timescales and see if what stock hasn’t sold in the last three weeks. Then, run the report throughout the holiday season.
  • Find your best-sellers. Conversely, stock that has been selling well should continue to be popular. Your best-sellers will be the ones you should be sure to order safety stock for, because you don’t want to run out on Friday and have empty shelves on Small Business Saturday.
    • We offer a Sales by Category report in Lightspeed Retail, and a Recent Sales by Item report in Lightspeed Analytics so you can quickly check on your best-sellers.
  • Set your reorder points. Some point of sale software, like Lightspeed, allows you to set desired stock levels so you can quickly check which inventory needs to be reordered. During the holiday season, you may want to set your reorder points higher so you have plenty of time to restock on anything you’re not planning to carry extra safety stock units of.

Get your eCom store in order.

eCommerce is more important than ever this year. If you don’t already have an online shop, it’s time to create one so it’s available in time for Cyber Five. If you do already have one, make sure it’s updated and works properly. Important steps to take while creating your eCommerce store:

  • Sync your in-store and online inventory. When customers are buying gifts in person and online, your inventory being accurate is of the utmost importance—you don’t want to accidentally sell the last item in stock twice and hit a customer with an unexpected wait time. Lightspeed Retail and eCom automatically sync inventory levels so you don’t have to worry about hiccups.
  • Refresh your eCom homepage. Update the homepage on your website to show your most giftable products or any special holiday-related deals.
  • Take a look at your product descriptions. Did you get any new products in stock for the holiday season? Do you have older products that could use a little holiday refresh? Take a look at your existing product descriptions and edit them to have a more holiday feel.

Hire and train your holiday staff.

Seasonal workers aren’t new, but this year’s hiring difficulties are. Do what you can to attract staff earlier rather than later so you have time to train them thoroughly.

  • Make competitive job postings. If you’re hiring seasonal staff, make sure to be as transparent as possible in your job descriptions. Mention how many hours per week you need assistance, the experience levels you’re looking for (if any), and the pay rate. Take a look at what your competitors are offering to get a sense of how you can make your listings more appealing.
    • Better pay is likely going to be your biggest hitter—take the ice cream parlor that doubled its starting wage to $15.00 and received over 1000 applications in a week, for example.
  • Train your staff on your holiday policies. A refresher never hurts. Take the time to go over your holiday policies, like returns, sales and mask and cleaning mandates, with all staff members, both new and old, to make sure everyone understands the proper procedures.
  • Motivate and incentivize your staff. Working the holiday season means things can get busy. Keep morale up by offering recognition to those doing a stellar job. Reward your staff with a special celebration after the season comes to a close.
    • Use data to recognize your top performers. In Lightspeed Analytics, you can run the Upsells Percentage and Individual Performance reports to track sales per team member.
  • Set employees, new and old, up for success. Whether they’ve been working for you for a week or a year, make sure your employees have easy access to everything they need to give every customer personalized service. That means having an organized, detailed inventory system employees can search and customer profiles they can consult even if they’ve never met a customer.
    • Lightspeed stores sales history, important dates, custom notes and more in customer profiles. Make sure your employees know they should be checking these customer profiles for the best possible service.

To-do list: plan for sales and promotions

Once your store is fully stocked, decorated, and staffed, the next step is to figure out what kind of sales and offers you’re going to put out for the season. Consider more flexible options, like buy online, pick up in-store or local delivery to entice customers to choose you over competitors.

Make sure customers can shop the way they want.

Buy now, pay later is making waves. That market is expected to grow 1,200% by 2024. Buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS), and curbside pickup made a splash during the pandemic and aren’t going away. You need to give your customers as much choice as possible.

  • Enable buy now, pay later for online checkout. This may entice customers to make bigger purchases.
    • You can integrate buy now, pay later tools like Sezzle or Affirm into your Lightspeed eCom store’s checkout.
  • Make sure customers can use Google Pay and Apple Pay. Google Pay and Apple Pay are two of the most popular mobile payment methods in the United States, and 29% of consumers prefer to pay with digital wallets. Adding these two payment options will make for a more pleasant experience for both you and your customers.
  • Offer gift cards they can’t resist. 43% of shoppers prefer gift cards over other last minute gifts. Pick a gift card provider that will let customers use cards in store and online for the best of both worlds. Lightspeed even lets you customize digital gift cards with customer messages.
  • Facilitate buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup. BOPIS and curbside pickup give customers the power to buy online and skip delivery times, so it’s no wonder they’re big hits during the holiday season. In addition, 39% of holiday shoppers in 2021 are stressed about crowded stores. Giving them options means they can shop the way they’re comfortable instead of moving on to a competitor.
    • Retailers in the United States can use Mobile Tap to facilitate curbside pickup payments without making customers come into the store—an extra bit of convenience they’ll appreciate.
  • Make sure your loyalty program is omnichannel. Customers who buy online should be able to redeem their rewards in store, and vice versa.

Set up your holiday sales.

Why should customers visit your store? Your brand is important, sure, as are the products you carry and the service they get. But your holiday promotions and specials matter just as much.

  • Decide what kinds of sales you’re going to hold. Make a plan for the sales you’re going to have, and when. A buy one, get one free (BOGO) sale will help you clear out shelves, but you don’t want to jump the gun and mark down gifts that would sell on their own for full price. A mixture of promotional bulk pricing, percentage discounts and BOGO sales timed right will keep the excitement going all season.
    • In Lightspeed Retail, you can set a discount rule (for example, 25% off or more to catch deal seekers) and have it run through Black Friday to Cyber Monday.
    • You can then set a discount rule for a buy one get one free sale to run through Sunday and Cyber Monday. By the time Sunday rolls around, you’ll know which products need the BOGO push.
  • Send promotions to your Loyalty program members. If you have a loyalty program, now is the time to send a campaign. Notify your existing loyalty members about any upcoming promotions to drive them to your store or website.
    • Consider sending a mix of emails and text (SMS) messages. If you’re running any in-store or online-specific campaigns, you can use Lightspeed Loyalty’s customer groups to reach out to loyalty program members who shop online and in person through email and text.

To-do list: launch your marketing plan

You’ve stocked your store and gotten it ready, and now it’s time to let people know.

Customers have a lot of options when it comes to buying gifts, so make sure they know why they should be shopping with you. Share your promotions, deals, bundles, and events through social media, email, texts, and other marketing tools.

Here are three main areas you can focus your marketing efforts on.

Plan your advertising.

If you want to have a successful BFCM sales blitz, holiday shoppers need to know who you are and what you’re offering.

  • Update your Google My Business profile with current information. More people than ever are turning to search engines to shop locally, with Google searches for products “near me” (such as flowers near me) having grown 200%. Update your Google My Business (GMB) profile with relevant information so potential customers can find out when you’re open and what you’re doing for the holiday season.
    • If you haven’t taken control of your GMB profile yet, take a minute to connect to it through Lightspeed. You’ll be able to quickly sync your location information that way.
  • Sync your inventory to Google local inventory ads. Local inventory ads automatically target nearby shoppers searching for the products you carry. They’re an effective way to say “hey, we’re here, and you can get your gifts from us.”
    • To cut down on the amount of time it takes to get your inventory approved, sync it to Google through Lightspeed. From there, you’ll be able to manage your local inventory ads through your point of sale.
  • Determine a budget for social media advertising. If you plan to run any ads, figure out how much you are willing to spend. You can also choose to boost any existing organic content, if you don’t want to run an entirely new ad campaign for the holidays.

Scout out organic marketing and partnership opportunities.

Organic marketing—where you don’t pay for visibility—can help you get more eyes on your Cyber five deals without eating into your budget.

  • Make announcements about Cyber five—especially Small Business Saturday—on your social media channels. Create in-feed posts, Story slides, and TikTok videos (which you can reuse on Instagram Stories) to let your customers know what you have to offer during the holiday shopping blitz.
  • Consider partnering with local organizations to heighten awareness for your store. For example, the small businesses in your neighborhood might be organizing a retail crawl for Small Business Saturday. Get in touch with organizers to make sure your store is featured in any marketing for shop local initiatives.

Find ways you can bolster customer loyalty.

First-time customers, returning regulars, holiday-only shoppers… if you make the right moves, they’ll keep coming back after Cyber five and into the new year.

  • Encourage shoppers to sign up throughout the holiday season. Have your employees encourage your customers to sign up for your loyalty program when they make a purchase so that they’ll earn points. If your loyalty program works across stores and online, add a section on your website for customers to sign up when they visit your eCom store.
  • Send follow-up campaigns to new loyalty members after the holidays are over. Keep your customers engaged once the holidays have ended by sending follow-up emails and SMS messages.

Get ready for Cyber five with the one-stop platform for holiday retail

The holiday shopping season is already upon us, and the holiday shopping blitz will be here before you know it. With this year’s holiday sales projected to pass the $1 trillion mark, retailers who are prepared can make 2021 their most successful year yet.

Happy holidays! You’ve got this.