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The leaves have turned, the air is getting crisper, and Cyber Monday will be here before you know it. That’s the day that eCommerce sites both large and small will be offering the internet equivalent of door-buster deals for online shoppers.

sale balloons

Shoppers may flock to brick and mortar stores on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, but the following Monday belongs to eCommerce sellers. Large retail chains with big ad budgets may get the most attention on Cyber Monday. Can smaller eCommerce businesses break through the noise with promotions and campaigns that target repeat customers and bring in new clientele?

This is the question that many eCommerce sellers ask themselves around this time. Is it better to offer Cyber Monday deals or ignore this shopping holiday altogether or something in between? Will discounts bring in new customers or just eat away at your bottom line?

Before we consider the pros and cons of Cyber Monday deals, however, we have to take a moment to consider what online holiday sales could look like in 2020.

Cyber Monday Predictions for 2020

In the midst of a global pandemic, consumer shopping habits have changed dramatically. ECommerce sales have almost doubled in comparison to 2019. The trend of doing more shopping online to stay safe from the virus will probably continue through the holidays. That could affect Cyber Monday and online holiday shopping in a few different ways.

  • Holiday sales might be down across the board. With millions of Americans unemployed, there might be fewer gifts under the tree for everyone. However, even if this happens, eCommerce sales might still be higher than in 2019.
  • Holiday shopping starts earlier than ever. The Thanksgiving ritual of rushing out to fight the crowds to get the best deals is out in 2020. In fact, some big retail chains have announced that they won’t open their doors on Thanksgiving Day this year. Many of them will be promoting holiday items early, in hopes that consumers will stretch out their holiday purchases and avoid crowds. If buyers accept this extended shopping schedule, that could mean early holiday sales for eCommerce stores as well as bricks-and-mortar.
  • It just might be the best Cyber Monday ever. Are you ready for record sales this Cyber Monday?

If you decide to offer Cyber Monday deals this year, you might want to start with an early bird special several weeks ahead of time. Because of the need for social distancing, warehouse workers can’t safely crowd together, which could make it harder to ship a last-minute holiday crush of packages. Getting your orders shipped early benefits both you and your customers. That’s particularly important this year because Cyber Monday falls relatively late, on November 30.

Holiday fulfillment

Here are some pros and cons of offering Cyber Monday deals this year.

Pro: Jump on the Cyber Monday Bandwagon

On November 30, online shoppers will be looking for Cyber Monday banners and deals. Adding a Cyber Monday logo to your site can generate excitement; without it, your customers may drift off to other sites with the thought that they can come back to your shop any day. An event-specific deal can give people a reason to buy now.

Con: Compete on Quality, Not Price

When it comes to deep, loss-leader discounts, your small eCommerce site can’t compete with the big retail chains. In fact, shoppers who visit your online store just because of a Cyber Monday deal might not be your ideal customers. If you rely on a clientele that appreciates what you have to offer based on the quality of your merchandise and your personalized service, bargain hunters may not help you grow your business.

Instead of discounts on Cyber Monday, consider offering something unique. For example, you could include one-of-a-kind gift packaging with every order. More creative promotion ideas:

  • Give virtual consultations to customers who buy more than a certain dollar amount of beauty products.
  • Offer a Facebook Live session to help your customers choose the right clothing sizes and styles for everyone on their gift lists.
  • Provide a free webinar on home decorating with your housewares items.

Make Cyber Monday a fun community event at your online shop, rather than a mad scramble for bargains.

Pro: Boost Customer Loyalty

Shoppers love to feel like they are getting a special deal that not everyone can access. A small gift, coupon, or discount tied to Cyber Monday can give your loyal following that special feeling of being on the inside.

Consider a secret coupon code just for your best customers. Or give a discount to people who sign up for your e-newsletter. Happy customers are your best advertising.

Offer these discounts well before Cyber Monday. When you give people a reason to buy from you early in the holiday season, you give them more time to talk up your online store to their friends.

Con: You Might Turn Your Buyers into Bargain Hunters

Some people won’t buy unless there’s a sale on. When you offer Cyber Monday deals, you run the risk of turning your good customers into bargain hunters who won’t click the buy button without a coupon code. Over time, price pressure from cost-conscious shoppers can eat into your bottom line. Before you offer a Cyber Monday coupon, consider the long-term impact it might have on your bottom line.

Pro: A Little Goes a Long Way

Your customers want to buy from you, not an impersonal chain store. You don’t have to sell at a loss on Cyber Monday to boost sales and make your customers happy. Even small discounts can help you ring up early holiday sales. Offer deals that make both you and your customers happy.

Con: Cyber Monday Isn’t the Day It Used to Be

When Cyber Monday first became a thing, internet shopping was in its infancy. The big sales day for online shopping was traditionally on the Monday after Thanksgiving because people used internet connections at work to do their online shopping. Now that many more people have home internet and most people can shop 24/7 on their smartphones, Monday isn’t really the big day. In addition, more shoppers are likely to turn to online retail on Black Friday this year.

Many retailers have recognized this trend. Even before 2020, they offered “Cyber Monday” deals starting much earlier than the fourth Monday in November. Your holiday rush could start over the weekend or even earlier. The Monday after Thanksgiving may not even be a big day for you – and that might not matter at all. You can still have great holiday sales without a Cyber Monday rush.

Pro: Cyber Monday Creates Urgency

Cyber Monday shopping

It’s fun to be part of an event, even if it’s virtual. Cyber Monday creates a sense of excitement. By promoting the day and offering one-day deals, you create a portal into the retail fun of the day through your online shop.

Customers want to participate with each other and with your brand online. That connection will be more important than ever with so many people stuck at home this holiday season. Consider offering extra discounts for those who promote their purchases from your eCommerce site on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram. Give your customers the chance to make their own splash on Cyber Monday.

Con: Price Isn’t the Most Important Factor Driving ECommerce Sales

A survey of online retail transactions found that return policy, customer reviews, and shipping costs were often more important factors driving eCommerce sales than price. While the ability to comparison shop can make online shoppers price-conscious, the analysis showed that customer service was a bigger factor for most customers.

For gift shoppers, your return policy may be the biggest influence on whether they click the buy button. Work with your 3PL provider to make sure that your return process will be seamless. Promote your generous return policy. Make sure your eCommerce fulfillment warehouse gets returns restocked quickly so your customers don’t have to wait for refunds. Your return policies could bring you more clicks on Cyber Monday and throughout the holiday shopping season than coupons or gimmicks.

handling returns during the pandemic

Make Your Cyber Monday Sales Count

Whether or not you decide to give discounts or gifts or free shipping to your customers on Cyber Monday, it never hurts to get in on the hype. Add a Cyber Monday banner to your site and add the phrase to your meta tags to improve your SEO.

Use Cyber Monday as an opportunity to invite customers to do all their holiday shopping with you. Make it easy for them to click the buy button. And, if you need more tips for a prosperous holiday season, check out our complete eCommerce holiday survival guide.