16th November 2021
7 e-commerce hacks to help you boss Black Friday
Today, Black Friday is just as much a digital as a high street event – and when you combine that with the exponential growth of online shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s not hard to understand why this year’s Black Friday shoppers are expecting more than ever from their e-commerce experience.
If you feel like your e-commerce site is on the back foot, it’s not too late – read on for our top 7 Black Friday hacks to help you convert more customers.
Hack #1: On-site copy + paste search
Ever uttered the phrase “I'm hoping it will come on sale on Black Friday”?
At this time of year, consumers often hold out for Black Friday in hopes they can snag a specific item for less.
Since they know exactly what they’re looking for, these consumers (as well as comparison shoppers, high-value item researchers and repeat purchasers) conduct an exact search using detailed search terms that include specific product titles or model numbers, often copy-pasted from another source.
These consumers are also much closer to making a purchase decision than a typical casual product browser, so it’s crucial to help them get to what they want - and fast - by making sure your search function includes all of the relevant database fields.
Hack #2: Product list + filtering – be lazy
If you’re running a large e-commerce site, chances are you’ve got a LOT of amazing offers for Black Friday. So how many should you put on a product listing page at once? Is there a magic number?
Deciding on the number of products to load at once is a balancing act between optimizing page performance and making the process of scanning, comparing, and choosing products as convenient as possible for the user.
Load too few products, and your product listings can look sparse and uninspiring. Load too many and you risk encouraging excessive scanning – or worse, the dreaded ‘analysis paralysis’.
So how do you get around this?
Start by combining the lazy-loading technique with a ‘Load More’ button. The number of products per page can be increased because the performance hit is greatly reduced.
Once dynamic product loading in place, you can use the following as a rule of thumb when answering that tricky numbers question:
On desktop sites
Visually driven products (often ‘grid view’) - load 100–150 items at once
Spec driven product lists (often ‘list view’) - load 50–100 items at once.
On mobile sites
load 15–30 items at once regardless of the list type.
Why these numbers? Get in touch, and we’ll happily walk you through it.
Hack #3: Parent categories for cross-selling
This particular hack is more helpful to e-commerce stores with lots of different product types and product recommendations.
If you use supplementary or alternative product recommendations, you’ll know that not every product suggestion is a winner 100% of the time.
Instead of relying completely on AI, it’s a great idea to include links for ‘Shop All’, or ‘View All’ on your recommendation sections or carousels. This simple change can create remarkable results when you allow customers to view everything instead of just the product selection generated for them.
And if you wanted to get fancy, why not allow your customers to ‘Shop all Black Friday’ and help them discover things they didn’t even know they needed?
Hack #4: Cart + Checkout – the magic number of form fields
It's a well-known fact in the world of UX that customers can feel overwhelmed or intimidated when confronted with a large number of form fields. What’s less well-known is how many form fields is too many.
A large scale usability study in 2021 categorically revealed the tipping point to be 14 form fields. Once you exceed 14 fields, you’ll start to see a drop in usability performance (and higher abandonment rates).
When it comes to checkouts, we'd recommend a ‘work smarter, not harder’ approach. Remove any unnecessary fields from the checkout flow. Use smart form field features and designs to collapse, preselect, or otherwise minimize optional fields. If 10–15 form fields are still viewable, try using multiple steps and add whitespace to provide a grouped view.
Believe it or not, you can show an entire checkout flow in 7 form fields, 2 checkboxes, 2 drop-downs, and 1 radio button interface, shown by default.
Hack #5: Accounts and Self Service – they’ve signed in, now what?
If a potential customer comes to you through an email campaign, or if you’re well known for online deals, there’s a good chance that customer already has an account.
We’ll assume you’ve already made it exceptionally obvious and easy for users to log in from anywhere on your site. So now what? Where do you take them? The homepage? The account page?
It’s key that a user’s navigational preference after signing in - either to return to the page they were on before signing in, or to be taken to a new page - is honoured.
On an e-commerce site, there a good possibility the user was mid-task or mid-flow when they chose to sign in. Returning them to where they were before signing in is the best way to avoid user frustration, as well as the difficulty of re-finding products or account features.
Hack #6: Site Wide design – Returns in the footer
On Black Friday it's usually all about the buying. One thing we’ve found (especially when buying multiple or high-priced items) is that customers need to know if something goes wrong, they can correct it or send the item back. Many customers simply won’t make a purchase decision without this information.
The fix here is one of the easiest, cheapest and high impact ones on this list: Have direct stand-alone links to both ‘Return Policy’ and ‘Shipping Info’ in the footer.
It may just give customers the safety blanket they need to hit that ‘buy now’ button.
Hack #7: Homepage and Category Navigation - The first 3 seconds
Can visitors to your site find the best deals within the first 3 seconds? Is your homepage prepared for what users expect?
When new users land on a homepage, a significant percentage (25% of people on desktop and 70% of people on mobile) perform a behaviour called a ‘scroll & scan’. This just means they scroll down the page to get a quick look or overview of what the site has to offer.
At this stage it is imperative that users are able to find what they want, and with the right filter.
It’s important to show a sufficiently broad range of your products on the homepage - don't just settle for a Black Friday banner. You should aim for at least 40% of your product types to be displayed, for example:
Up to 75% off everything!
Followed swiftly by: Up to 75% off dresses, 1000s of styles for £5 & under, Up to 75% off tops…coats & knits, plus size range…whatever your site finds most valuable.
One of the easiest and best-performing ways to execute this is to simply take people to a product listing page and apply the appropriate filters. This allows customers to see everything in the Black Friday sale for that category, and avoids the misconception that the 25 or so products you showed initially are the only products available in that category (another common usability error).
When your e-commerce UX is optimised, every day can feel like Black Friday. For more insider tips and proven strategy, get in touch.
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