Jessica Hulett
Content Manager, Brand @ Yotpo
September 13th, 2023

Your burning questions about BFCM, answered

It’s hard to believe it, but we’re already deep in the throes of BFCM planning — and hopefully you are, too. We asked Theresa Reed, 2023 Amazing Women in eCommerce Honoree and SVP of Sales & Partnerships at 2023 Yotpo Partner Awards winning agency The Stable, Part of Accenture Song, for her expert advice for eCommerce brands who want to win big on the biggest shopping day of the year. Here’s what she had to say.

What trends are you expecting for BFCM 2023?

  • Strong affiliate activity
  • Influencer-driven / interactive gift guides
  • Promotions that focus on increasing AOV and UPT to make it more efficient for brands and keep shipping costs under control
  • Depending on the vertical, brands may not lean on promotional levers this year but use gift with purchase to drive more checkouts and conversions

What’s your top-level advice for brands going into BFCM?

Last year’s Black Friday / Cyber Monday proved once again to be driven by online sales. According to Shopify, 73% of sales in 2022 were made on mobile devices compared to the 27% on desktop. Ensure your mobile checkout experience is optimized with multiple ways to check out. This means understanding the purchasing habits of both your target consumer and who else may be purchasing on behalf of your target consumer is key.

Also, be flexible with the marketing plan. Given the economic uncertainty for a lot of folks, there might be some surprising trends or shifts during this promotional period. For example, there may be a product not featured in your gift guide that takes off. Ensure your team is ready to shift campaigns accordingly to improve ROAS. This may also mean starting your promotions earlier than planned in order to jumpstart momentum or respond to a vertical trend that’s emerging (think TikTok trends).

And finally, ensure campaigns align with your overall inventory strategy / availability. Have a backup for popular products that could go out of stock. We’re encouraging brands with a large retail presence to better integrate their D2C and retail experiences.

How should brands approach discounting for BFCM in this economic climate?

Focus on your best offers and customer segments. Brands should know who their promotional shoppers are from sales throughout the year and from the last BFCM and should be directly speaking to them in their marketing communications. Develop a strategic marketing communications calendar that balances mass-promotional messages for awareness with segmented, niche communications that offer deals truly relevant to the receiver for stronger conversion.

How should brands be leveraging social for BFCM?

Partnering with relevant micro influencers / brand advocates ahead of and during the promotional period to drive awareness, trust, and keep your brand’s offerings top of mind. Test traditional polished creative against UGC to uncover what your audience resonates with more.

AI is such a hot topic right now. How can brands make the most impact for BFCM using AI-powered solutions?

Conversational commerce is the next logical frontier – especially from an acquisition and customer service point of view. If we look at the shopping funnel, there are several points at which conversational commerce can be leveraged. Examples range from personal shopping assistance for new customers or order troubleshooting, to maintaining relationships with existing customers.

These AI conversations with customers typically occur via SMS or a website chatbot. Think about partnering with vendors and tools that seamlessly integrate into your tech stack and can extend your team’s reach, support, and level of personalization during these high-volume times. Using both structured and unstructured data from these conversations and interactions can inform your post-purchase / post-engagement strategy and content.

What are some strategies that brands in different verticals should employ for BFCM?

  • Food and beverage: Gifted subscriptions, expanding gift with purchase trial / sample packs
  • Health and beauty: Gifted subscriptions or gift sets; gift with purchase / trial sizes / stocking stuffers; guided selling (recreate in-store consultation vibe)
  • Fashion and accessories: Virtual fitting rooms; stocking stuffers
  • Home and garden: Launch promotions / campaigns early for folks preparing for holiday hosting
  • Sports and outdoors: Emphasis on increased UPT / AOV (complete the look / packing list for a trip); gift guides in the form of guided selling quizzes for different audiences (e.g. new vs seasoned athletes, casual vs serious, etc); wishlist functionality – athletes tend to be pretty specific about the gear they use, wishlists allow for easy sharing with family / friends; most brands in this vertical also have retailer partners, so adding “find it at a retailer near you” for D2C out of stocks makes it easy for the customer to find the item elsewhere
  • Luxury goods / high consideration verticals: Consider a virtual shopper / personal stylist experience that allows for video chat, checkout, and follow-up all on-site. This is perfect for the customer that is looking for white glove service.

            Anything else you think brands should know / think about / consider as they firm up their BFCM plans?

            From a technology perspective, ensure that your holiday website code freeze doesn’t stop necessary code development work that will set your business up for operational success. New features or code that get worked on during this time are not required to go directly to your live store to be impactful. For example, Shopify stores will need to re-think any customizations to their checkout as the liquid code will be depreciating next year. This encompasses several considerations including product bundling, or any data or shipping customizations that will need to be rolled into app functionality.

            From a marketing perspective, don’t let Q1 plans fall to the wayside. During Q4, set your business up for success for the coming year. Consider all the traffic and new customers that you’ve now gained from the holiday rush. How do you stay relevant to them come the post-holiday season? This is where initiatives like review gathering and loyalty program optimization can come strongly into play.

            Looking for even more BFCM strategies? Hear from more experts and Yotpo Partners in our eBook: 8 Ways to Have Your Best Black Friday Ever.

            Contributed to the article: Jessica Hulett