After BFCM: 10+ tips for conducting a Black Friday-Cyber Monday 'post mortem'
by Michael P. Hill
Reviewed and updated for BFCM 2019.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone in a flash — but now that this busy shopping weekend is over and the dust has cleared, it’s worth taking a step back to review your strategies.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark the beginning of the holiday shopping season and any lessons learned there can be used in the coming weeks; so it’s important to make time to review it all while it’s still fresh in your mind. You can also take what you’ve learned this year and apply it to future holiday shopping seasons in the years to come.
Because of this, you may want to consider the practice of conducting a “post mortem” meeting after the end of this busy time to reflect and look back at how things went.
The name “post mortem,” literally means “after death” and is most commonly applied to medical autopsies and, on a less gruesome side, a meeting held after the completion of a project or event to evaluate what worked and what didn’t.
Here are 10 tips for conducting a productive Black Friday-Cyber Monday post mortem.
Schedule a time as soon as possible. Of course, hopefully you are bogged down fulfilling orders and responding to customer service requests from your great BFCM sales, but it’s still worthwhile to set aside an hour or so, sooner rather than later. Think about a time, such as right after package pickup or drop off, when you can anticipate things slowing down a bit.
Be sure to make detailed and accurate notes about all of your discussions, analysis and assessments. You might want to consider creating a Google Doc to store this so it’s safe until next year or even use a good old fashioned notebook.
Add a reminder to your calendar for, say, September of next year, reminding yourself to review your notes. Also include a reminder as to where you stored your notes — since it’s very easy to forget this over the course of a year!
If you’re a one-person shop, you can still take time to sit down and review your strategy and data by yourself and gain plenty of valuable insights. A good alternative for single person stores is to bring in a friend or family member as a “sounding board” or use your professional network to find someone to swap ideas and insights with.
If you have a team — no matter how large or small — consider including as many people as possible in the discussion. Everyone from the owner to the marketing folks to warehouse team likely will have valuable insights to bring to the table. At the very least, be sure to include someone from each stage of the product development, marketing, ecommerce, fulfillment and customer service stages.
Review your marketing efforts and data. What campaigns and strategies worked the best based on the data you have? Which social channels produced the most engagement? Which actually converted to sales? Also evaluate the amount of time that needed to be invested to create each campaign when considering ROI. If a campaign showed only marginal results but took hours to put together, it might be worth reconsidering.
Did you keep an eye on the competition over the BFCM weekend? Did you note deeper discounts from them, a better email campaign, or shorter or longer sale periods? Jot down anything you observed that might prove useful going forward that you’d like to try in terms of your own product offerings, price points and marketing strategies.
From an operations standpoint, look for bottlenecks in your fulfillment process that could be streamlined. Of course, if you’ve seen a drastic increase in orders, you will likely be busier than normal and may have a hard time keeping up, but there’s always the chance you might be able to spot an opportunity to be more efficient.
Did you have some of your products sell better than expected? Why do you think that is? Analyze sales trends to identify products that did particularly well and consider why that might be the case — be it pricing, demand, competition or your marketing strategies. Also do the same thing for products that didn’t sell as well, especially ones that you marketed heavily or expected to sell better. This can help you not only plan better with suppliers next year but also improve your marketing efforts and know where to focus future product development or sourcing efforts.
Also review how product demand is affecting your inventory and product availability. If appropriate, reach out to your suppliers to discuss issues from their end and ways to improve things for next year or as the holiday season continues.
On a broad scale, since Black Friday and Cyber Monday tend to drive higher traffic levels, it’s a good opportunity to get a wider scale look at data and behavior — which can be especially valuable for lower traffic stores where getting statistically relevant data can be more difficult. On the other hand, however, keep in mind that since BFCM shoppers tend to be highly price driven, be on the lookout for anomalies in the data that might be indicative of that, such as higher cart abandonments or increase in “window shoppers.”
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