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1. Prepare for customers who have already started researching

Prepare your holiday sales as early as you can and begin letting your customers and visitors know about your upcoming sale well in advance.

According to research from RetailMeNot, over half of US shoppers plan to start their holiday shopping before BFCM. Not only do you need to start preparing early, but you also need to ensure that customers looking for gift ideas and information on particular products find you.

2. Organize your upcoming sales

Look at all of your products and plan your deals and discounts ahead of time instead of putting on a sale last minute.

One idea is to create a “planned sales map” in Google Sheets or Excel, giving you a simple outline of all your upcoming sales. Here’s a pre-made Google Sheets template you can use to plan your sales this year. Just go to File > Make a copy to save it to your Drive.

Choose the products you want to run a holiday sale on and schedule their start dates and sale prices. This way, when the holiday sale rolls around, you can refer to your plans instead of scrambling at the last minute. You can find help in the Shopify App Store to make scheduling sales easy.

When you’re ready to implement your sales, make sure to leverage Shareable Discount Links to make redeeming your offer codes even easier for your customers—and boost your conversions while you’re at it.

Learn more about all of the different types of discounts you can set up in Shopify.

3. Create contingency plans

Do you have the proper backups in place in case anything goes awry? What happens if the shipping company you work with becomes too busy? How quickly can you restock inventory if you sell out earlier than expected?

We're not looking to stir up unfounded fears, but it's important to prepare for tough situations. Think about the worst case scenarios for your business and create contingency plans wherever possible. It’s much easier to handle the planning now, versus troubleshooting in the midst of the biggest sales weekend of the year.

Prepare for an uptick in demand

4. Test or ensure your website can handle a surge in traffic

Sometimes, too many simultaneous requests to your website can bog it down and potentially crash your site. This kind of downtime usually takes an enormous amount of traffic to occur, but it’s still a good idea to ensure your host can handle a spike in traffic.

You can test the server load capacity of your store with tools like

5. Ensure your store can handle increased demand

If you rely on a supplier for your inventory, or your product is created or manufactured by you or your team, consider the increased demand you’ll experience during the holiday season.

Work with your suppliers and ensure they’re prepared to handle your projected sales for the holiday season. One of the worst things that can happen during a sale is selling out faster than you wanted to and not meeting the demand of your customers.

Ready your campaigns and creative

6. Create banners and hero images to advertise holiday sales

What better way to promote your holiday sales than with gorgeous graphics and visuals? Whether you’re planning to use banner ads to promote your holiday sales or changing the header/hero image on your homepage for Black Friday Cyber Monday, you don’t need to be a graphic designer to get things done.

Need images for your designs?

Burst is a free high quality stock photo site powered by Shopify. Browse 1000s of product and lifestyle images to use in your BFCM campaigns.

Get free stock photos from Burst

7. Plan ads and ad copy

It’s always a good idea to plan the ads and ad copy you’re about to run for a sale or promotion ahead of time so you can put more thought into copy and ad placement.

If you need help planning your ads, here are some resources from our blog:

The Beginner's Guide to Advertising on InstagramFacebook Ads: The Beginner's Guide to the Facebook PixelRetargeting: How to Reach Customers Who Aren't On Your List

Just remember that bids can get more expensive during the competitive holiday season depending on your niche. You may need to increase your bid price on specific keywords or for certain audiences to increase the visibility of your ads during big holiday sales. If you plan to do paid advertising, it’s a good idea to prepare your holiday sale ad budgets as well.

Marketing in Shopify: Grow your business with Facebook and Google Ads

Marketing in Shopify is a new place to help you create, launch, and measure campaigns. We’ve streamlined the process to make running a successful ad campaign easier than ever, and you can start a Google Smart Shopping campaign and Facebook ads in Shopify today.

Run your first campaign on Shopify

8. Build suspense and buzz around your upcoming sale

It’s easy to announce a Black Friday Cyber Monday sale, but building suspense and buzz can help make it an outsized success.

Tease your customers with emails of what’s to come, post sneak peeks of upcoming sales on social media, and start piquing the curiosity of your customers. The sooner you begin doing this, the more momentum you will have during Black Friday Cyber Monday when you finally announce the sale.

Test and optimize for conversion

9. Consider creating abandoned cart emails

According to Barilliance, the average cart abandonment rate on Black Friday 2017 was 74.5%. Of course, you’ll want to try and keep that number as low as possible.

One of the most effective ways of doing this is by setting up targeted abandoned cart emails. This way, when a customer adds a product to their cart but leaves your store, you can use a compelling email to bring them back to complete their purchase.

Shopify makes this easy with built-in abandoned checkout recovery and a wide selection of abandoned cart apps in the Shopify App Store.

10. Think mobile first

Last year, Shopify stores saw more mobile purchases than desktop purchasesacross all of BFCM for the first time.

We should expect this trend to continue and possibly increase. What this means for you as a store owner is that thinking mobile first is essential.

What's your store’s user experience like on mobile? Is it easy and intuitive to make purchases on your store? Is your website mobile responsive?

All of Shopify’s themes are responsive and mobile-friendly, but if you’re not using Shopify, test how your store looks on a mobile device.

While you’re looking at your store on mobile, make sure to examine your checkout process as well. Especially on mobile, filling in every field required to check out can be a conversion killer, which is why options like Shopify Pay and Google Pay can provide an added boost to your mobile conversions this year if you’re using Shopify Payments. They let customers autofill saved information, reducing the keystrokes or clicks required to make a purchase.

11. Test your site and get feedback

What if you could get inside the head of a potential customer and listen to their thoughts as they navigate your store for the first time? There could be issues you don't notice or areas of your store where you can make simple improvements—a fresh pair of eyes is the perfect way to surface these otherwise hidden opportunities.

There are many ways to get someone to go through your store and give you feedback, but one great option is UserTesting. UserTesting lets you set parameters about who you’d like to test your store. Then you can watch a random user fitting that description browse your website so you can listen to their feedback.

Feedback is valuable, but you also shouldn’t make unconsidered changes to your store based on a single source of negative feedback. Instead, look for common snags or areas where visitors are frequently confused or frustrated, and brainstorm solutions to make things easier or more explicit, or ways to remove the hurdle altogether.

12. Place tracking pixels

If you run paid campaigns such as Facebook Ads or Google Smart Shopping campaigns, both of which you can set up directly in Shopify, you should place retargeting pixels on your website so you can remarket to your holiday sale traffic. Here’s how to find and generate tracking pixel code for your website with Facebook Ads and Google AdWords:

How to create a Custom Audience pixel on FacebookHow to tag your site for remarketing on Google AdWords

For help on where and how to paste these code snippets using Shopify, read our documentation.

Market and promote your products

In 2017, one ad agency found that on Black Friday, click-through rates more than doubled across all of their clients’ ads. Shoppers are generally more receptive to ads during the holiday season, but because this is an established trend, you’ll find the price of running ads during BFCM typically goes up as well.

But even with increased costs, your customers may be paying more attention to ads during this time. That means marketing can play a significant role in the success of your holiday sales. As mentioned, the first step to getting ready is to plan your ads and ad creative ahead of time. Here are a few other marketing preparations you should consider for the holiday season.

13. Retarget past visitors and customers

If you’ve already set up a Facebook Pixel on your store, now’s the time to use it. When you retarget past visitors, you’ll reach people who may have forgotten about your store and wouldn’t have checked out your sale otherwise.

Exclusive to Shopify merchants, Kit is a free virtual assistant app that helps you run Facebook and Instagram ads—including retargeting. If you’ve not had a chance to meet Kit, now is a great time to try it to take some marketing work off your plate.

You can also retarget customers that have previously purchased