Winning Cyber Monday 2021: What Retail Brands Need to Know

Day-After-Thanksgiving sales are almost as American as Thanksgiving itself. For decades, retailers bet big on Black Friday – it was the one day out of the year when shoppers would get up in the dead of night, tiptoe past sleeping holiday guests and publicly brawl over discounted waffle irons like they were the last generator on doomsday.

When online retail giants decided they wanted a piece of the action in 2005, Cyber Monday was born. This auxiliary shopping day gave digital merchants like Amazon and eBay the chance to offer their own version of doorbuster deals, without the risk of being trampled or assaulted over a Tickle Me Elmo doll.

As ecommerce has gained year-round popularity and big box stores have leaned into online sales, Cyber Monday and Black Friday have become increasingly intertwined. It is now widely expected that brick and mortar merchants will offer Black Friday deals both in-store and online, and more and more shoppers are beginning their search for bargains on Google, not just in sales flyers.

Whether your retail business is planning its first Cyber Monday or its best one ever, here are some essential tips for meeting holiday shoppers out in the digital world:

1. Get Ready for Cyber Monday and Black Friday 2021.

If you want to succeed in ecommerce, preparation is key. Synchronize company leadership, customer service, tech support and your digital marketing team to ensure that you have a solid plan of action that will attract shoppers and support their experience.


The most effective marketing is the kind that gets seen. Social media advertising is an excellent way to target consumers who are likely to be receptive to your products or services, and to reach out to those who have already shown an interest in your brand. Start promoting Cyber Monday deals early and dial up your posting frequency to get your sale in the public eye.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is an equally important advertising tool, as it tends to be closest to the sale. We often refer to it as a net, which will help capture in-market consumers and those specifically seeking out your brand.

It’s a good idea to create new landing pages on your company’s website for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to help attract and direct search traffic. Landing pages also help keep the consumer focused on your action goal: in this case, encouraging them to make a purchase.

Prep your inventory (and your website).

Cyber Monday is all about volume. Ensure you have the inventory available to fulfill orders, and that your website is prepared to handle the extra traffic. Fumbling these steps could get your brand the wrong kind of attention from consumers.

Plan your Black Friday deals.

Determine where you can afford to offer discounts while remaining profitable. You may benefit from selling some items at cost if those bargains motivate shoppers to make additional purchases.

2. Know your shopper.

It pays to have conducted a good behavioral segmentation study in advance of planning your Black Friday strategy. Use what you know about your target audience and its relationship to your brand to your advantage.

What bargains will attract regular customers, and what will reel in first-time buyers so that they can be introduced to your brand? How low do you really need to go for your target audience to feel that they scored a fantastic deal? If your prime prospect is motivated by innovation, they may be more drawn to an exciting new product offering than a bargain. For a price sensitive prime prospect, however, it will likely all come down to cost savings.

Some online sales and freebies may be more valuable to particular audiences. Brands that cater to practical customers could consider offering free shipping at a set threshold, while those with a more premium feel may tempt shoppers with a free gift if they spend a certain amount.

3. Take advantage of changing Cyber Monday trends.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday used to be all about doorbusters, whether that meant pressing your face against the door of Best Buy or frantically refreshing a webpage.

The pace of post-Thanksgiving sales has slowed considerably these days. It’s now common for retailers to offer discounts for the entire week of Black Friday. This year, many brands and retailers are offering deals for the entire month of November, as shortages have moved up the holiday shopping timeline. While there is something to be said for creating hype and scarcity, you may find that spreading your sale out over an extended period is more feasible and profitable.

4. Run your Black Friday deals on Amazon.

Thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon is now many shoppers’ go-to site for holiday sales. The merchant saw its most profitable Black Friday ever in 2020, and there’s no sign of letting up.

The submission period to be included in Amazon’s Black Friday Deals ends in early October, but there is still time to take advantage of holiday shopping traffic by planning promos or offering coupons – just ensure that you have the inventory available to meet demands, or your Amazon rating could suffer.

Don’t forget to prepare your advertising campaigns for the increased shopper volume on Amazon. A good rule of thumb is to triple your daily budgets to ensure your product is getting in front of the Amazon shopper.

If you are setting your sights on Black Friday 2022, be aware not everyone is eligible to take part in Amazon Deals. Sellers must have a good customer service rating, and their products must adhere to a list of specific criteria and meet inventory and fulfillment requirements.

The stakes are high on Amazon, but it also represents a tremendous opportunity for brands that are a good fit. We recommend investing in a strategic partner to help your brand navigate Amazon’s platform.

5. Don’t neglect brick and mortar shoppers.

Black Friday COVID restrictions may still be in place, but after the lull of 2020, many stir-crazy patrons will hit the stores this year to do their shopping. Up to 77% of consumers report that they plan to visit retailers in person if they are open and offering deals that aren’t available online, and fewer than a quarter express concerns about the safety of in-store shopping.

Though it’s unlikely that a tidal wave of zealous bargain hunters will storm retail locations at 5:00 AM this year (and possibly never again), brands should still plan on offering deals to brick and mortar customers.

It is generally best to approach your merchant early in the year to make a plan for in-store exclusives on Black Friday. If that window has passed, however, don’t lose hope. Distribute manufacturer’s coupons through print marketing or email, or attach IRCs (immediately redeemable coupons) directly to your product’s packaging – just work with your merchant to ensure the shipment of goods that includes your deal is stocked on shelves in time for holiday shoppers.

6. Think beyond Cyber Monday.

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are famously profitable days for retailers, they are ultimately just a piece of your total annual revenue picture.

You want your business to win all year long.

Make the most of these shopping days by enrolling customers in rewards programs and offering coupons for upcoming deals at the point of sale. Give both in-store and online shoppers a chance to sign up to receive news about discounts, promotions and new products so they know they can look to your brand for value now and in the future.

Think of Cyber Monday as an opportunity to extend your brand’s reach like never before. Offer new and returning shoppers a meaningful connection to your brand, and leverage your after-Thanksgiving sale to win customers for life.

Ready to win on Cyber Monday? Learn more about optimizing your digital marketing strategy to succeed in the growing world of ecommerce.

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