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Testing Best Practices for Black Friday

The biggest day in retail is here. Starting in the early hours after American Thanksgiving, shoppers will flood to malls, big box stores, and e-commerce sites alike, hoping to score big deals and get their holiday shopping done early.

Retailers have been planning for this day for months already now. That goes for their QA and engineering departments too as most have been in code freeze since September.

Last year’s Black Friday brought plenty of revenue but 75% of shoppers still abandoned their carts during the shopping bonanza, meaning something along the way made would-be customers change their minds and buy their items elsewhere. The key to lowering shopping cart abandonment while growing loyalty and customer conversions is through effective testing strategies. With so many moving parts before, during, and after Black Friday, brands need to ensure shopping experiences are integrated across all platforms and that every part of the experience is functionally sound and easy to use.

Here are the best practices retailers should use to get the most out of this year’s Black Friday.

Personalize Experiences

Personalization is an important customer experience aspect before, during, and after Black Friday. Retailers should personalize the teaser content and deal previews they send before Black Friday to entice shoppers to buy. They should also personalize push notifications on Black Friday to match what a shopper has show interest in. And any email or loyalty program follow-ups after Black Friday should be tailored to what customers bought during Black Friday and what else they still need.

Prepare In-Store Operations

In-store associates do a lot of work to prepare for Black Friday, but the bulk of that effort is focused on meeting the needs of traditional shoppers. With the rise of omnichannel initiatives like BOPIS (buy online, pickup in-store) retailers have to adjust their training. In-store associates should be prepared to handle online coupons, store pickups, and returns. More specifically, retailers should ensure there is proper signage to show where returns and in-store pickups will take place. In-store associates should also be able to direct shoppers to the correct aisles for items.

Make Checkout Easy

As already stated, shopping cart abandonment is one of retail’s biggest problems – especially when it comes to Black Friday. But there are steps retailers can take to fix this issue. First, retailers need to offer all the relevant payment options when it comes to checkout. That means finding out what credit cards and mobile wallets customers use most often and adding them into the e-commerce site. The most popular options should be listed first. Retailers then must test that these payment methods work every time. There is more to a seamless checkout process than payments though. One of the things that can lead to shopping cart fatigue and abandonment is a poor user experience. Retailers should investigate how many clicks it takes to get through a checkout process and where they are losing customers along the way.

Integrate Physical and Digital Experiences

Omnichannel strategies have invaded retail like no other industry. Because of this, customers demand the highest quality omnichannel experiences every time. Brands should do both functional and usability testing to uncover any bugs that could prevent a consumer from ordering items via mobile app, website, or voice command. They should also integrate digital and physical experiences so e-commerce prices match those listed in-store, and items are appropriately marked as available or out of stock when they are shopping online.

Online sales are set to account for $124 billion in the U.S. alone this holiday season, and Thanksgiving weekend is projected to account for 19% of these sales. However, brick-and-mortar still makes up the vast majority of retail spend, meaning omnichannel strategies are a must. With so much money at stake this Black Friday, retailers should evaluate their testing strategies to ensure they are doing everything they can to provide great customer experiences.

Published: November 20, 2018
Reading time: 4 min

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