While data and analytics can provide essential guidance for your Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) strategy, reading a situation and responding effectively to emerging trends can only be done by experienced, talented professionals. In this article, I will share some crucial tips for the run-up to these global shopping events from my experience as Content Lead – UK at Savings United. Here they are:

React and respond to trends as they emerge

No two BFCM are the same as the other. What happened last year is unlikely to happen again this year. As BFCM matures in the UK, we are seeing different retailer trends and consumer habits. As well as following your pre-planned strategy, it is essential that you stay on top of trends by analysing the data as it happens, taking an agile approach and reacting quickly. 

Analytics can show up-to-the-minute data, but the most valuable information for us is the experiences created by the team and what we discover as we go through the period. Having analytical tools is beneficial, however optimising for trends can only be done by the people who live and breathe what we do throughout the year.

One of the ways we will share knowledge on the key days is by having rapid meetings at regular intervals, where each team member shares what they’ve discovered at different times. One person may have found an awesome tip that the rest of the team can put to use in their own area. It has the additional benefit of acting as a way of grounding ourselves and making sure we don’t lose sight of the fact that we are all in this together.

Be prepared for increased traffic

With deal seekers arriving at sites in record numbers, we are all familiar with the stories of retailers’ websites taking a tumble during peak times on BFCM. Last year, we saw traffic shoot up across our portfolio of projects, with up to 70% increase in traffic from October to November 2018. And although we all want increased traffic, we need to be prepared to cope with it. 

During the seasonal peaks, the dynamics on our advertiser landing pages can differ vastly. While we’re mostly dealing with increased traffic over exclusive deals that can sometimes peak at 1200% compared to the low season, we also get very different attack vectors and malicious activity that can within minutes escalate to much higher numbers. This in itself requires agility and technical setup that is capable of responding to requirements that change within seconds. Here, DevOps is our key to the solution.

Create the conditions for autonomy

As we know, BFCM often means a good deal of overtime. It can also mean shift work. While we need to plan and ensure we have adequate cover, we also need to ensure longevity within the team. So, we analysed what the peaks are likely to be and collectively made a plan on that basis, with the team choosing the shifts that suit them best. In addition, we have introduced a buddy system so that team members can pair up and choose to work with a colleague they are most familiar with.

Freedom and autonomy are incredibly important to the way we work as a team and as an organisation. Working with these values as raison d’etre gives team members the opportunity to play to their strengths. We have found it improves both job satisfaction and well-being, inside and outside the office. Moreover, giving team members space and freedom to work in their own way encourages an entrepreneurial spirit, promotes quick thinking and gives them the confidence to make their own decisions, all of which are vital when working in the fast-paced BFCM conditions, where every second counts.

Boost morale and team spirit regularly

Remembering to show appreciation regularly is an important thing to do at all times of the year but even more so around BFCM when there are increased workload and more demands all around. Of course, we’ll have the usual things such as pizza, table football and a massage chair. However, it’s useful to have surprises up your sleeve for moments when you need to relieve pressure within the team. 

Remember, BFCM isn’t the end. It’s the beginning of the busiest season. So it’s important to have things to look forward to. This year, among other things, I’m preparing a special advent calendar for my team. We will take turns to open a door each day, and hopefully, this will add a bit of fun and anticipation as we approach the end of 2019.