Safely through the peak season:

 5 tips for e-commerce stores on Black Friday & Co.

by Esther Schwan – 8 Mins read time
last updated 23/11/2023

The ongoing economic crisis makes Black Week and the peak season a crucial time for e-commerce, as many shoppers once again hunt for discounts. For many retailers, Black Friday and the subsequent holiday shopping season mark the beginning of the busiest sales period of the year. To be successful, you need to be well prepared.

In this article, we offer five tips to keep in mind for your ecommerce store around Black Friday. They will help you navigate the peak season and provide a smooth customer journey.

1. Basic building blocks – not just for Black Friday: transparency and proactivity

It’s no secret that peak season orders can take a while to arrive. Yet, customers expect delivery to be on time. They are not familiar with warehouse and logistics processes. New customers, unfamiliar with your store’s otherwise high delivery quality, are particularly unforgiving of delays. Proactivity and transparency are essential: communicate Black Friday delivery times clearly and honestly on the website, without forcing users to search for them. And communication must not stop once the order has been placed.  

Instead of radio silence after the order has been confirmed, you can send regular updates on the whereabouts of the package, based on information from the shipping process. Triggers like “Order packed” and “Order transferred to carrier” are especially useful for Black Friday. Not only do these notifications keep shoppers informed of each step, but they can also show that the general high volume of packages on the last mile is not to blame for any delays. 

To keep your customers informed, you can also link directly to a tracking page when shipping updates are emailed. Obviously not from DHL&Co, but one hosted in your own shop. This is a great way to drive traffic to your site, advertise promotions, or provide product recommendations. First-time buyers will quickly become repeat customers – even beyond the peak season.

In the best case scenario, this transparent communication helps to improve the customer experience. It strengthens your brand and allows more information to be shared about you and your products.

2. Easily manage peak periods – free up customer service through automation

During peak season, your customer service department is under particular strain. More traffic and orders usually means more customer inquiries. To handle them reliably, you need support templates that can be customized for Black Friday and established processes.

But you can also directly automate common and easy-to-answer tasks. For example, by proactively and automatically notifying buyers of address errors, you can save a lot of time and avoid passive returns. On average, you can save 12€ per order.  

Ideally, customers should be able to correct the address themselves via a link to a self-service portal. The corrected address is automatically sent to the warehouse and the order can be shipped. This saves time not only in customer service, but also in the shipping process. 

“I could have gone on vacation during the red week (black week at TFC) – the fulfillment and logistics processes run so smoothly with Alaiko.”

Marcel Schuler, Senior Operations & Supply Chain Manager, The Female Company

3. Spoil your regular customers and win over new ones

Efforts to attract shoppers on Black Friday typically focus solely on acquiring new customers. But loyal existing customers also shop during Black Week & Co.
You should pay special attention to the latter – for example, by telling them about upcoming discounts in advance through newsletters and in the store itself. This will make them want to buy even more. It may even be worthwhile to have a special pre-sale or some offers exclusively for existing customers.

For new customers, the most important thing is to make them feel welcome. After all, there are many users on the site who are unfamiliar with your products and brand. So make sure you have good product descriptions and explanations of your items. This will leave fewer questions unanswered and avoid potential disappointment when unpacking. Tip: It is worth taking a look at reviews of previous purchases and information on reasons for returns. For example, if a common complaint is that a product is too small, you can add a note to that effect in the store.

4. Control logistics costs with cross-selling and up-selling

There are logistics costs associated with every order, and with high discounts, these costs can quickly eat into margins. Therefore, the basket value should be as high as possible. This is where a sophisticated cross-sell and up-sell strategy pays off. Recommendations for other suitable products or volume discounts increase the chance that more items will end up in the shopping cart. This encourages shoppers to buy more than they had planned. This also pays off in the long run. By eliminating the need to package and ship items individually, you save on fulfillment and logistics costs.

You can also bundle the products, which is less expensive than buying them individually. Of course, this requires that your logistics provider supports this option. Did you know that you can easily create and modify bundles on the Alaiko platform? Digital processes ensure that inventory levels are adjusted accordingly after bundle orders.

5. Streamline the returns process 

An easy returns process is also part of optimizing the shopping experience. The first step is to manage returns. You should use a returns portal for this. If customers can initiate the return themselves, provide a reason, and download the label, they won’t have to wait long for a response from customer service. This is a win-win situation: your customer service is relieved and your customers are satisfied. You can export the return reasons listed in the returns portal and use them to further optimize your store and products.

The topic of refunds also offers potential for optimization. On the one hand, you can offer customers a gift certificate or an exchange instead of a full refund. They can also choose this directly in the returns portal and even order their replacement item there. This way, you may not lose the sale after all.

If customers still want a refund, make it as quick as possible – and keep your customer service time to a minimum. This works for Shopify stores with automated refunds. You can define which items should be refunded directly (e.g. only A-goods), and as soon as the return is processed in the warehouse, the refund is automatically triggered.

Read how Zoè Lu saves 12 hours per month with automated refunds!

Conclusion: After Black Friday is before peak season 

Satisfied customers during Black Friday and the following peak season is the biggest challenge, but also the ideal. Fast deliveries, excellent customer service and proactive communication are important components of an excellent post-purchase experience.
You will be rewarded for it. Your store will be remembered positively by customers and will certainly be considered for purchases during the important holiday season. Because Black Friday is just the beginning of the busy season. The holiday shopping season is just around the corner, and all of the above tips still apply.

Title image by Tamanna Rumee on Unsplash.


Esther Schwan

PR & Content Lead DACH

Alaiko Posts