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Small Business Cyber Monday Tips for Entrepreneurs

Neon lights spelling out a motivational quote

Move over, pumpkin-spiced lattes. Make way, spooky season. Christmas is coming, and there’s work to be done.

For small business owners, this is the most lucrative time of the year

Shoppers are ready to spend money on everything they need to make the holidays a truly special occasion.

And it all starts with a discounting frenzy. 

Cyber Monday is the biggest online shopping day of them all and it isn’t just reserved for retailers in the big leagues.

So what is it, and how do small businesses get involved?

Read on, and we’ll show you how your store can jump right into the festive spirit this Cyber Monday.

When and what is Cyber Monday?

Let’s get the history lesson out of the way.

The term ‘Cyber Monday’ became a thing back in 2005, thanks to the US-based National Retail Federation.

They noticed a yearly spike in online sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving, which always takes place on the fourth Thursday of November (and it’s your last chance to make big bucks until Christmas)

People returned to their offices after the holiday and took advantage of high-speed internet to stock up on discounted homewares, apparel, and gifts.

Now, for some numbers:

Cyber Monday sales graph data

Cyber Monday vs Black Friday

No article about Cyber Monday is complete without a mention of its notorious older sibling, the Black Friday sales.

Both days are billion-dollar shopping extravaganzas – last year, Black Friday generated over $7 billion in sales and if you’re running a small business you can’t afford to miss out on tips like these.

Both events started in the US and have gone global. And both Black Friday and Cyber Monday take place right after Thanksgiving.

So what sets them apart?

Well, when it comes to Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday:

  • Black Friday has its roots in brick-and-mortar shopping. While eCommerce is definitely booming, this particular day is still huge for physical retail. If you’re not sure how to prepare, see our comprehensive Black Friday business checklist.
  • It’s also more focused on doorbuster deals. Heavily-discounted tech items are stacked up in limited quantities in-store, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.
  • Black Friday deals are often on high-ticket electronics and tech. Meanwhile, Cyber Monday is a little more skewed towards apparel and gifting.

Which day is better for small business owners?

Customers are primed to watch out for all kinds of deals at the start of the holiday season.

While small and independent businesses might think that Black Friday is for tech giants like Amazon and huge stores like Walmart, there’s room for everyone.

A staggering 93.2 million people shopped the Black Friday sales online last year.

So if you have an incredible website that’s ready for bumper traffic, why not take advantage of both days?

Here’s how you could set them apart:

  • Offer different things. For example, you could organize for flash sales on one day, and promote free shipping and a gift with purchase on the other.
  • Segment your customer base. Market an exclusive loyal customer discount on Black Friday, and open the deal up to all customers on Cyber Monday.
  • Stick to tradition. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, you could stay true to the origins of these events and discount products in-store exclusively for Black Friday.

Cyber Monday vs. Small Business Saturday

Thank you for shopping local sign

Just when you get to grips with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, along comes another term for another shopping event.

But this one has been designed specifically for you.

The Saturday after Black Friday, right before Cyber Monday, has since 2010 been all about championing small businesses.

After all, the overwhelming majority of retailers fall into this category, and they need our support:

  • Only half of all small enterprises in the US survive past 5 years. Compare that to some of the bigger corporations that you know.
  • While the little guys can see a 35% boost in revenue over the holiday season, a bigger business will still enjoy a huge 65% increase.

Which day is better for small business owners?

It sounds like a no-brainer: the clue is in the name, after all. 

But, just as with Black Friday, your business doesn’t have to pick one event over the other. After all, Cyber Monday sales are going to be incredibly lucrative. 

Instead, why not make the most of the whole weekend? 

You don’t have to clear your inventory of products or slash hundreds of dollars off shipping fees in order to keep up with your competitors.

Here’s how you can strike a balance:

  • Capitalize on the focus around small businesses on Saturday. Attract new customers to your website with savvy use of social media channels and trending hashtags.
  • Show that you can offer something unique. A small business website is always going to feel more personal than somewhere like Amazon, so play on that perk.
  • Set your site up for Cyber Monday deals. Getting a surge of new users on Saturday will help you understand your business needs when the Monday madness starts.

Extending the shopping spree: Cyber Week sales

Blurry Lights Dark Background Bokeh
The shopping spree of November becomes a blur

Before we tell you how to monetize the Cyber Monday sales rush for your business, let’s talk about Cyber Week.

As more and more retailers try to get ahead of their competitors, there’s now often no break between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

In fact, many stores are stretching their holiday deals from Thanksgiving day in the US over five days to Cyber Monday, and sometimes into the following week. 

With the rise in popularity of Cyber Week, you might be wondering:

  • Are Cyber Monday deals only on Monday? You’d think so, given the name. But shoppers will be expecting holiday sales all week, so you can make your deals last.
  • Should the best deals be reserved for Cyber Monday? Not necessarily – depending on what day your sale starts, you could vary what you offer on a daily basis.

How to make Cyber Monday work for your small business

By now, you should be filled with confidence about participating in Cyber Monday. 

It’s a great way to introduce people to your brand, boost your revenue, and reward your customers as the festive season approaches.

And it won’t take much to get ready for Black Monday – here’s what you should be doing.

1. Preparing your business

Hold on, wait a minute. Put down whatever the virtual equivalent of a pricing gun is. 

Before you start lowering your price points and telling customers about your upcoming sale, you need to make sure that your business can handle all the new attention.

Preparation is everything when it comes to nailing your Cyber Monday sale technique. The big box retailers will be getting ready, and you should, too. 

From your website to your inventory to your copy, make sure that your eCommerce store is in perfect working order.

Is your website up for the challenge?

You might totally nail your social media marketing, your new collection could go viral, and your store can end up with thousands of potential new customers.

There’s no harm in thinking big.

But if your website is slow to load and clunky to navigate, it’ll be hard to convince any Cyber Monday shoppers to make a purchase.

Avoid the horrors of an increased bounce rate and make sure your website:

  • Looks it’s absolute best. Website templates that offer plenty of white space and that are modern work the best.
  • Can accept payments in multiple different ways. You want to give everyone a chance to pay up.
  • Is on a server that can handle a surge in traffic. An automatic boost in bandwidth is a great feature to have.
  • Will be easy to use, whether on a desktop or mobile device. Make sure you’re using the best mobile website design practices.

Do you have enough inventory?

Sure, your payment processing software runs like a dream, and user experience on your site is flawless. But it all means nothing if you can’t fulfill your orders.

Make sure you have enough products in your inventory to cater for the volume of sales you’re forecasting.

If you have an online store, inventory management software should be your best friend already. Get familiar with what you’re able to offer before you start discounting anything.

How good is your product information?

Cyber Monday is a time-pressured event. Customers will be feeling rushed, so make sure each purchase is too easy to abandon.

You’ll need great photos, useful descriptions, clear price points and handy product reviews on your products if you want to snag every sale. 

If you have the resources, you could add cool stories, utilize a zoom function and implement AI software. You just want shoppers to spend with your business. 

2. Organizing your schedule

Sample Marketing Schedule Excel
Your Cyber Monday schedule can be a simple excel file

The countdown for Cyber Monday is on, so don’t waste any time and organize your schedule. You need to plan how, when, and where you’ll tell customers about your deals.

More than that, it’s worth working out what kind of promotions your business will run, too.

Here’s how you can get organized:

  • Create a content calendar. Your business might even already be using a schedule. Spend some time figuring out where and when you’ll push Cyber Monday marketing – you can use publishing software to do the work for you.
  • Establish some daily sale strategies. Figure out how your business can stay fresh and enticing over the whole of Cyber Week. Switching up your promotions to offer a deal a day is fun for customers and handy for keeping inventory in check.
  • Fine-tune the logistics. Plan ahead to ensure your customers aren’t left empty-handed. If you use a third party courier or drop shipping model, can all of your orders be fulfilled within the timeframe you offer on your website? 

3. Email marketing

Etsy Cyber Monday Email
A fun Cyber Monday email from Etsy

Phew, now for the fun stuff.

Tip 💁 – Email marketing should be at the core of your Cyber Monday campaign. Use that customer contact information – go crazy with it.

Fine, not too crazy.

But be sure to share the latest news about your holiday discounts:

  • Share sneak peeks. Get customers in the mood for a day of online shopping – send an email or two in the run-up to Cyber Monday with a curated list of which products will be discounted. 
  • Send coupons. Because who doesn’t love a coupon? Make your customers feel valued and email your most loyal segment of shoppers a code for extra discount, free shipping, or an early-bird discount.
  • Personalize the messaging. Make each email seem tailored to each customer to engage with them on a deeper level. Address users by name and highlight the best buy for them, based on past purchases.

4. Making a splash on social media

Facebook has come a long way since the days of poking and finding your classmates. 

It’s now one of the most essential places to run ads, no matter the size of your business.

Ads aside, social media will play a vital role in your Cyber Monday success story.

From Facebook to Instagram, and even Twitter, here’s how your business can make a quick impact:

  • Run a countdown. Creating a sense of urgency around holiday shopping is almost tradition, so get involved. Post daily countdowns in the lead up to Cyber Monday to keep your followers engaged in your store’s activities.
  • Give exclusive discount codes. You can hand them out over email, too, but consider giving your Instagram or Facebook followers their own promo codes. It could drive some much-needed extra traffic to your site.
  • Use hashtags. We know that you know about hashtags. Just don’t forget that you should be making use of trending tags for the Cyber Monday sales. Your business posts need to be super visible.

5. Finding your USP

Bicycle painted like a watermelon parked on street

Let’s be honest: you’ll be competing with thousands of eCommerce retailers this Cyber Monday. 

But don’t let that put you off.

Instead, think about what sets your brand apart – what’s your unique selling point (USP)?

Doing something different is a surefire way to attract people to buy from you:

  • Personalized products or services. None of the big box retailers will be able to provide a truly custom service to shoppers. Consider what your business can do to add a personal touch.
  • Fundraisers and collaborations. Donating a portion of your sales revenue to charity is a great way to embrace Cyber Monday. Be sure to share stories on your site to get customers engaged and willing to help.
  • Incentives to spend. If you want to boost long-term customer retention, incentivize people to return to your store once the deals have ended. Offer a free trial on a service, or a coupon for their next purchase.

6. Considering customer service

We have news:

While your amazing marketing skills might make some shoppers hand over their credit card details right away, most customers need more than that.

We’re talking customer service. Before, during, and after each transaction.

People want to spend money with confidence, even during the most high-pressure shopping event of the year.

So implement great customer support:

  • Install chatbot software. In a physical store, customers will likely be approached by a salesperson before they hit the point of sale. Get some software on your site that mimics this service and helps guide the purchase process.
  • Hire extra staff. The surge in online shopping and the promise of free shipping might mean you can’t deal with sending out orders alone. If you’re a solo setup, think about whether you need temporary assistance.
  • Offer extended returns. We all make impulse purchases we regret. You could capitalize on panic buying, or do the decent thing and update your returns policy terms to give shoppers extra time. 

7. Thinking creatively

Not every business can afford to knock money off every item, but that doesn’t mean they have to miss out on Cyber Monday.

There are plenty of small business trends that you could jump on to provide great deals to shoppers that don’t impact your bottom line.

Here are some:

  • User tutorials. You could offer limited-time user tutorials to shoppers – great for sellers of crafting goods, downloadable software, and foodie items. Maybe set up a separate email address for one-on-one interaction.
  • Bundles. It’s the season of gifting, so make it easy for stressed-out shoppers and re-package your goods as bundles of three or four items. You could even add a 10-15% saving to the total package, to help seal the deal.
  • Gift cards. As we said, people will be searching for giftable items as soon as Cyber Monday rolls around. And gift cards are great for everyone. The shopper finds an easy present, and you’ll eventually get a whole new customer. 

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Olivia is a writer for Zyro and an eCommerce know-it-all. Having spent many years as a retail buyer, she loves writing about trend forecasting, brand building, and teaching others how to optimize online stores for success. She lives in London and spends a lot of time exploring the city’s parks with her whippet.

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