Tips for Increasing 2021 Black Friday Cyber Monday Conversion Rates

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by: Holly Kuldell11/11/2021

Quick Summary Here we go. As we get closer to Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM), it’s time to make sure you’re ready to take advantage of the biggest online shopping period this year (and likely the biggest in history).


Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, more than 186 million shoppers made purchases in 2020, a 14% increase from 2019, according to the National Retail Federation. On average, shoppers spent $361.90, the highest ever on the way to overall spending, totaling more than $14 billion in revenue. Despite COVID concerns, that represented an 18% increase from 2019.

Conversion rates also increased in 2020 from an average of 3.7% in 2019 to 4.3% in 2020 for US retailers.

Market data from Amazon and Shopify showed record sales volume and record revenue in 2020 and both online retailers are predicting even bigger BFCM volume in 2021. Some estimates put retail spending to grow by another 20% in 2021 to reach spending levels exceeding $17 billion.

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It all adds up to an unprecedented opportunity for retailers who are proactive about preparing for BFCM and adopting an aggressive strategy to leverage demand. Since holiday sales account for between 20% and 30% of most retailers' total annual sales, there’s a lot at stake. 

To maximize revenue and conversions, retailers will need to ensure they have a solid plan for 2021 Black Friday Cyber Monday. 

Here are some of the top tips for increasing conversions and conversion rate optimization this holiday shopping season.

Prepare Earlier than Normal

If you haven’t started preparations yet, it’s past time. More than a third of shoppers say they will start their shopping earlier this year. We’ve already seen some major retailers start to advertise early Black Friday savings or guaranteed lowest prices through the holiday season.

With continued disruptions to supply chains and concerns about global shipping and labor shortages, retailers need to make sure they have the inventory they need in-house now to fulfill BFCM orders. Inventory shortage will limit your ability to convert shoppers and can destroy margins.

Be Transparent About Shipping Timelines

Out-of-stocks and shipping delays are likely to be the biggest story for 2021 Black Friday Cyber Monday. If you can guarantee you have the inventory available and can ship within a reasonable period, it can be a competitive advantage.

Regardless, you need to be transparent about your policies and expectations for shipping timelines. Customers are more sensitive — and aware — of problems getting things delivered on time. For many, shipping concerns may outweigh pricing considerations.

You need to get this right by being honest with customers and providing accurate information to avoid dealing with growing consumer frustration. Even with warnings about disruptions to shipping and higher costs, shoppers still say they expect a smooth shipping experience.

And 88% of US shoppers say free shipping and on-time delivery are important elements in their choice of retailers. Further, 98% say they want to be notified in case of delivery delays, and more than two-thirds say just one instance of a poor delivery experience is enough for them to stop purchasing from a retailer in the future.

Be prepared for lots of questions about inventory and shipping this year. Consumers' top concerns in 2021 are out of stocks (50%) and shipping delays (46%), which consumers rated higher than concern over pricing, even amid price inflation.

Improve Personalization

Product recommendations remain a powerful tool in spurring conversions. Showing best-selling products, compatible products, and gift categories can help guide shoppers.

The more personalized you can make your eCommerce BCFM site and marketing, the better. You will improve conversion rates when you narrow choices for site visitors. Check out how Dynamic Yield can help with eCommerce personalization here

Make Sure Your Customer Support Can Handle the Volume

Nothing will kill your conversion rates faster than a consumer that’s ready to buy but has a question and you can’t answer it fast.

In fact, 71% of shoppers say they expect help from an eCommerce site within five minutes. Nearly a third expect immediate responses. If they don’t get it, nearly half say they stop a purchase and go elsewhere. 

Live chat, click-to-call, and detailed self-service options can make a significant difference in conversions. Conversely, missing information, slow response times, and long waits can severely impact your conversion rates.

If you’re wondering where the biggest demand will come from,  Shopify found the highest volume for all of Cyber Week occurred from 12 pm to 1 pm on Black Friday.

Auditing your customer support and response times now can help you better understand the tech stack and staffing levels you will need to handle volume for 2021 Black Friday Cyber Monday.

See how we launch & scale brands on Shopify Plus with a data-backed approach

Reduce Friction at Check Out

With cart abandonment rates reaching an astounding 88% at times, there’s a lot of money at stake. Review your checkout process and deploy best practices to reduce friction for consumers.

The most common reasons consumers say they don’t complete purchases after putting something in their cart include:

  • Unexpected costs at the time of purchase, such as shipping

  • Complex checkout processes, such as multi-step processes

  • The requirement to create an account 

  • Online security

  • Slow speeds or delays when checking out

One study suggests that as much as $200 billion in sales are lost every year because of friction during checkout. Shore up your efforts by:

  • Offering guest check out

  • Offering alternate payment options

  • Testing checkout processes at peak loads

Real-Time Testing and Stress Testing

When Amazon has an issue on Prime Day for just one hour, it’s estimated the online retailer may have lost as much as $99 million in sales in addition to frustrating customers. Stress testing your site under maximum loads can help you find any problems now rather than in the middle of the 2021 Black Friday Cyber Monday rush.

Take testing out of the lab environment as well. Have real people test the process in real-time with the goal of breaking the system to see what happens. It’s better to identify problems now and fix them. 

When testing, it’s important to check the process across multiple platforms with an emphasis on mobile sites and mobile apps. Of total purchases on Black Friday last year, 40% were made on smartphones, so it’s crucial to ensure a smooth process for mobile shopping. 

Pay particular attention to loading times. Google estimates that for every second of delay in page loading on a mobile device, conversion rates drop by up to 20%.

Review Cart Abandonment Email Flow

Reaching out to those who left items in their carts (using an ESP like Klaviyo) is a critical step to improve your conversions. If you don’t have an email flow for abandoned carts, put one in place ASAP. Assuming you do, take a deep dive into your flow to make sure your tech stack is set up properly to auto-generate follow-up emails.

Ensure your sequence of emails to urge consumers to complete their purchase creates both an incentive and urgency. Best practices include:

  • Start with a supportive email, such as asking if they have additional questions or need help finishing an order.

  • Reserve urgent emails for later in the sequence, such as day two.

  • Offer BFCM discounts, such as free shipping or discounts on subsequent orders, for completing sales.

  • A/B testing of different BFCM offers, subject lines, and messaging to optimize effectiveness.

  • Offer social proof, such as customer reviews or testimonials related to cart products.

Create a Sense of Urgency

Many consumers shopping on 2021 Black Friday Cyber Monday are in the “buy now” mentality. They may be flipping through multiple sites looking for specific products, so once they hit your site, you need to do whatever it takes to generate conversions. 

Adding scarcity to create a sense of urgency can help. Adding automated counts that show low inventory or countdown clocks to expiring deals can fuel conversions.

You may also want to consider adding Attentive’s SMS marketing to your tech stack if you’re not already doing it. Text messaging has an average open rate of more than five times that of email, and consumers tend to open them within as little as 90 seconds of delivery. This can be an especially effective way to try to save sales due to cart abandonment on mobile devices or to create a sense of urgency.

One strategy some retailers are using is to send discount codes or special offers by text while mobile customers are currently on their site to spur conversions.

Generate Trust Throughout the Buying Process

It seems like every other week we are hearing about the latest data breach. Neiman Marcus announced in October 2021 that 4.6 million customers may have had their payment card information exposed.

Online security is an essential concern for consumers. 

Scammers are even more active during the holiday season. Make sure your site is employing Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) that encrypts data in transmission and that data at rest remains encrypted. Letting your customers know the steps you take to keep their transactions secure can increase conversions.

At checkout, adding trust badges, such as those from Visa, VeriSign, PayPal certified, TRUSTe, Authorize.Net, and others can give consumer confidence to complete sales.

Increasing Conversions for 2021 Black Friday Cyber Monday 

2021 Black Friday Cyber Monday is set to eclipse all-time sales records. Make sure you’re ready to go and employ these best practices to maximize your conversion.

Are you seeing 30% of revenue from Email & SMS Marketing? See how we can help.