eCommerce: Black Friday & Cyber Monday: Walmart, Amazon and Alibaba Update

In the five days between Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday and Amazon Prime Day, online shopping records are made and broken with the ante upping every year. In 2016 millions more shoppers took to eCommerce retailers in flavor of 'bricks and mortar' stores. According to the US National Retail Federation 44 percent of Americans said they shopped online during Thanksgiving weekend compared with the 40 percent who visited a physical store. Adobe also revealed that 2016's Black Friday frenzy smashed records in the US with $3.34 billion spent online up 17.7 percent on 2015. Even more interestingly for eCommerce stores: Adobe found that retailers which invested in a holistic approach of mobile email and social saw 30 percent more sales on average than those concentrating on just one or two channels. Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer huge possibility for brands and online retailers but what are the tricks you can 'borrow' from online giants like Walmart Amazon and Alibaba?

1. Be prepared to price match

Aside from comfort price matching is the biggest benefit of shopping from home. Walmart and Amazon are particularly renowned for their price matching policies though Amazon hit headlines in mid-2016 for declaring on its service page doesn't offer price matching. Before then if a product dropped in price within seven days the customer would receive the difference from Amazon. Walmart's policy has also changed: with a powerful physical and online presence the company doesn't need to match bargain-basement prices offered by competitors. That's not to say that Amazon and Walmart have abandoned competitive pricing strategies. Walmart was more aggressive than ever in 2016 with its product assortment and pricing helping it to beat Amazon on 20 percent of top-selling toys with prices matched on another 35 percent of items. The key learning? While you don't have to drop your prices to rock-bottom levels you have to be prepared to match or beat the giants to stay competitive.

2. Optimize your eCommerce website for conversions

If there's one thing that Alibaba Walmart and Amazon all do well it's optimizing's for conversions. They make the buyer process as easy as possible with fool-proof offerings like 'one-click purchase' promo codes and the ability to quickly reorder past purchases.

Amazon optimisms for conversions by:

1. User reviews and shares suggest the product is high quality and worth purchasing.

2. The 'Add to Cart' button is prominent with a yellow background to help it stand out on the page.

3. Amazon offers a host of purchasing options so users can purchase for a variety of situations.

4. Amazon gives users the chance to bag a deal by purchasing the item second-hand.

5. It incentivizes upselling by giving an offer on multiple orders.

Alibaba's approach to eCommerce is particularly interesting as it consists of national (China-China) and international marketplaces wholesale retailers and payment services. The goal is simple: make it as easy as possible for merchants to do business around the globe. As such its conversion strategy is key to its global growth. Alibaba's conversion optimization's includes:

1. Detailing 'trusted' branding to showcase reputable sellers.

2. Clear pricing figures per unit as well for wholesale buyers.

3. The 'You May Like' tab showcases relevant alternatives so buyers can find alternatives if they're not happy with what they've selected.

4. Clear product details and spec give buyers a strong understanding of what they're buying so they can more readily make a purchase decision.

Lastly Walmart is equally well-optimized. What do they do?

1. Walmart makes it easy for shoppers to reorder past items.

2. The clear price proposition spells out exactly what you're getting.

3. Free shipping compels buyers to consider spending more money in order to avail of the offer.

4. Larger text in yellow draws the eye to encourage users to purchase gift cards for friends family etc.

Optimizing for third-party/partnership sellers

Of course optimizing for eCommerce doesn't only include brand or retailers with websites of their own. Brands who sell via third party or partnerships can learn a lot about optimizations' from the giants too. In short these sellers should:

  • Include clear 'Buy Now' buttons that make it immediately obvious what retailers sell your products. For example sweets brand Mentos provides a choice and links for consumer to quickly and easily buy or add items to their basket with their preferred retailer:
  • Showcase relevant and concise product details on retailer sites. As with selling through your own site you want your product information on third parties to be engaging and interesting its end goal is to sell so make it count.
  • Use strong imagery to make your product as appealing as possible.
  • Take inspiration from how big eCommerce sites display third party links and learn from them. If it impressed you it'll likely impress your customer.

To read more about optimizing's your conversion strategy head over to our blog 3 signs that your eCommerce conversion strategy is broken (and how to fix it).

3. Retarget retarget retarget

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday represent brilliant opportunities to drive new consumers to your website this sales period is also a core opportunity for brands to reel in previous shoppers with offers and promo codes. Facebook email and display ads should be your first port of call for any retargeting campaign. Facebook's Dynamic Product Ads have proven particularly successful with fashion retailers. A customized pixel (a cookie that tracks activity) first gathers information on shoppers and then provides ads that upsell similar products or remind users to finish the checkout process. Online retailer Asos has used Facebook's retargeting tools to rapturous effect. By linking ads to platforms (e.g. mobile versus desktop versus in-app) and tapping into its 20-something userbase Asos saw sales increase threefold with return on ad spend increasing two and a half times over. But Facebook retargeting shouldn't take precedence over its older brother email marketing. A massive 80 percent of retail professionals said that email marketing is their greatest driver of customer retention with social media easing into second place at 44 percent. The key takeaway: Don't just think of the Thanksgiving sales flurry as an opportunity to reach new customers. Use its potential to retarget and (up)sell to current or legacy customers too.

4. Make it easy for customers to find and interact with you cross-platform

While you might think that a rush of activity in the month leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday will suffice you'll need to think twice about this approach. Christmas and the months in advance are highly competitive across all platforms and the later you leave it the harder it'll be to gain a foothold. Brands which don't perform well will have to supplement their results with paid spend with ad cost inflation eating into budgets during the busiest shopping time of the year. Of course the value of organic SEO for retailers can't be ignored either. Walmart so highly values SEO that it has whole articles dedicated to ranking better in its marketplace. Amazon's 'Best Sellers' are algorithmically updated based on sales and other criteria and updated hourly; landing a coveted spot in its rankings can mean huge wins for brands. Ranking on Alibaba's marketplace can also mean a huge difference to sellers though Alibaba itself also exercises its SEO wiles. It has filled its market with keyword-laden content; it has been built so users can immediately find what they want; and it builds links from other retailers around the globe. Your products need to be findable and searchable so choose your platforms wisely. If you're selling through a third-party consider installing a 'Buy Now' button so shoppers can easily find and purchase your product. Otherwise they'll go elsewhere. Amazon, Alibaba and Walmart are three of the biggest online retailers in the world and the reason is simple: they make it as easy as possible for shoppers to purchase from them. Shouldn't you do the same? Win big during Thanksgiving Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales ChannelSight's Buy Now technology enables brands across the world to increase sales conversions and market share. With clear 'Buy Now' call-to-action buttons brands can offer online shoppers an improved shopping experience with quick and easy options to purchase products they want from their preferred retailer. Brands that use ChannelSight have seen conversion rates of over 20% repeat-sales increases of 20 fold and average customer basket size increase by over 30%. Most of our customers receive a year one return on investment of over 10 to 1. If you want to better understand your conversion strategy and improve your ROI get in touch today to see how we can help you.

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