Cyber Monday is a day that online businesses both love and dread. According to IBM, online sales during Cyber Monday 2012 increased by 30.3% over 2011's online shopping extravaganza, and there is no reason why this year those numbers would go down - Adobe is predicting total sales to topple the $2 Billion mark. And while all companies love the increase in traffic and revenue, Cyber Monday has a tendency to unearth serious logistical problems for online businesses. Servers crash, sites go down, irate customers jam phone lines, and offices explode in a frenzy of panic as every minute of downtime means losing another customer. As the owner of an online business, I know first-hand how important it is to ready yourself for Cyber Monday, and how to prepare for it.
Hire seasonal staff
Brick and mortar stores learned the importance of seasonal staffing long ago, and it is high time online companies reap the benefits of temporary employees too. Customer service, sales, and fulfillment will all need to be bolstered, and hiring someone for a couple of months to help handle the influx of orders will really help out your business in the long run. Online shoppers expect Amazon.com level speed from all businesses, even the ones that are a fraction of Amazon's size. More staff means happier customers, and happier customers mean more referrals back to your brand.
Check your equipment
As stated on Econsultancy.com, a one-second delay in your site's load time will result in a 7% loss in sales. It is vital that your site is in top condition, or you could be looking at a serious dent in your yearly revenue. If you do have an IT person on staff, have them check your site's backend, tune the site's index and make sure everything is in order. You should also contact your hosting provider, if you have one, and ask about expanding your bandwidth temporarily.
One of the first steps in having a Cyber Monday sale will, of course, be marketing that sale. That means sending out the usual barrage of messages - newsletters, banner ads, social postings. Unless you run a business with a serious amount of brand recognition, avoid gimmicky marketing tactics like having your own hashtag. Optimize your marketing for the phrases people will actually search for, rather than for a cute catchphrase that looks good after a pound symbol. Now that isn't to say you should ignore using social platforms altogether - social marketing will drive a significant amount of traffic to your site and your sales, and your social feeds will likely light up with customer service messages - just don't define your entire marketing campaign by what you plan to do on social media.
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I really do like that online businesses have carved out their own version of Black Friday, and the sales boost that Cyber Monday brings does help start December off right. However, if you are unprepared for the oncoming torrent of customers, Cyber Monday will leave you a frazzled, stressed out mess. So if you haven't started already, take the rest of the month to prepare yourself, and your business, for the impending shopping frenzy. You, and your business, will be a lot better off well-prepared than if you just try to wing it at the last minute. (Image: via freedigitalphotos.net)