5 essentials to evaluate before BFCM for Shopify merchants

| By Kelly Vaughn

5 essentials to evaluate before BFCM for Shopify merchants

The lead up to Black Friday/Cyber Monday and the holidays is well and truly underway. That means merchants have a limited amount of time left where they can evaluate their store, and make meaningful changes to their customer experience. After all, no matter the audience that visits your store over the holidays, they all want the same thing - an easy way to know what you have on offer, and a seamless, optimized customer experience.

Today we’re going to go through a checklist of 5 areas you should evaluate ahead of Black Friday/Cyber Monday to give every customer exactly what they’re looking for.

1 - Boost site performance

It’s vital to sales success over BFCM that your store is performing smoothly and as users expect it to. They’re looking to grab the best deals as fast as possible. To do that, your site needs to load quickly, be easy to navigate, and allow customers to through checkout fast. It also needs to do all this just as well on mobile as it does on desktop - in 2020, mobile accounted for 40% of all online retail over BFCM weekend.

Evaluate your site’s performance in some key areas that will affect the customer experience and purchasing journey, so that you can make any necessary changes in advance.

Page Speed

On Black Friday, speed is everything. If your site is running slowly, it can cause frustration for customers and cause them to abandon their purchase altogether. In one study, 47% of consumers said they expect a site to load within 2 seconds, and 64% expect a mobile site to load within 4 seconds.

Shopify merchants are given a great head-start with page speed, using Shopify’s CDN (Content Delivery Network) as well as unlimited bandwidth to ensure your site can handle any influx of traffic without compromising uptime. However there are a few extra tasks you can do to make the most of those features.

  • Reduce the file sizes of any images or other visual content on your site
  • Make use of browser caching 
  • Remove any unnecessary large page elements
  • Minify code for key landing pages
  • Remove unused or unnecessary apps (more on this later).

You can test your page speed by using tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights which will highlight any major issues with your page performance both on desktop and mobile.

Mobile Responsiveness

Mobile commerce allows customers to shop with ease anywhere, anytime. On Black Friday, it allows them to very quickly grab a bargain even if they’re away from their computer. Therefore your store needs to function just as great on a smartphone as it does on a desktop computer. 

All themes from the Shopify Theme Store are mobile responsive, so merchants using one of these themes start with a great advantage. To ensure your store remains optimized, it’s worth going through your mobile user experience to highlight any friction in the customer journey. You want to focus on:

  • Calls-to-Action - Ensure these are high up on product pages so as to draw the user’s attention to the purpose of the page. Make sure they’re clear and obvious i.e. large with a contrasting color that stands out.

  • Tapability - Any interactive page elements should be easy to tap on a small viewport. Ensure any links are spaced far enough apart so the user doesn’t accidentally click on the wrong link.

  • Content - If there’s too much content to scroll through on a page, it makes for a poor user experience. Especially if that content is preventing the user from the target action for that page. For example if you have a lot of content on a product page, consider how this will look and feel on mobile and what you could do to reduce how much space this takes up to keep focus on the CTA.

  • Checkout - The longer it takes to get to checkout on mobile, the more likely it is that the customer will abandon their cart. Keep any checkout detail forms short and easy to fill out, and add quick checkout options if possible.

As most ecommerce websites are built on a desktop computer, it can at times be easy to forget about mobile and how your store experience translates to different devices. Checking these details now will allow you to spot any snags in your mobile experience and fix them ahead of the holidays.

Site Navigation

As customers want to explore all your store has to offer for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, you need to make sure it’s easy for them to navigate around your site. 42% of consumers say that poor site navigation is one of their primary reasons for leaving a website. 

Shopify’s navigational structure keeps things generally well organized, but there are always ways that you can really boost your navigation for BFCM.

  • Implement a breadcrumb menu to allow users to easily navigate backwards
  • Use clear, descriptive names for your catalog pages
  • Build Black Friday/Cyber Monday and holiday landing pages with temporary custom collections that keep all relevant information and products in one easily located place.
  • Make it easy to find your site’s search function 
  • Use internal links on product pages to guide customers to key pages such as your FAQ, shipping information, and customer support.

Merchants are generally busier than usual in the weeks leading up to BFCM and the holidays, therefore it can help to have experts conduct a UX/UI audit on your store.

2 - Review your automations

Black Friday and the holidays move so fast there’s no time to slow things down with manual tasks. Ecommerce automation can turn a nightmare holiday season into an efficient, easy, and low stress experience for your team. Chances are your store already uses automations in some shape or form, so it’s worth looking into which automations you’re making use of at the moment and where in your business you could benefit from additional automated processes.

Start by evaluating your current automations. This spans across a few different areas of your store including:

  • Operational - Inventory management, fulfillment, data processing
  • Marketing - Email/SMS, social media, on-site pop-ups and banners
  • Customer Experience - Checkout, recommendations, loyalty programs, customer support

Look at where you’re already implementing automations, and evaluate if those could be tweaked or changed to be even more efficient. For example, if you’re already using automated emails for back-in-stock and transactional emails, you may want to add extra emails into those flows to make them better address customer needs over the holidays.

To identify gaps in your automation set-up, speak to your team and find out where they’re spending too much of their time on manual tasks. Look also at your customer support tickets, to identify any common concerns that may be the result of human error or inefficient data processing. Perhaps you frequently see tickets about missing items or incorrect information, therefore you may want to consider automating how data is passed between your store and different departments. Your customer support tickets will also be able to tell you where in the customer experience you could implement more automated processes, such as improving checkout and boosting your support options with a chatbot.

Evaluating these automations and how your team can make use of them now will ensure their time is spent efficiently, the fulfillment process is smooth, and ultimately your store experience is in a really strong position ahead of BFCM.

3 - Evaluate your apps

One of the best features of being a Shopify merchant is the ability to customize your store experience using apps and integrations from the Shopify App Store. As with automations, it’s likely that you’re currently making use of some apps as part of your store experience already be that integrating your store into Klaviyo to send data-led emails, or using an inventory management system (IMS) to improve stock efficiency.

However apps aren’t something you can just install and forget about. It’s important to evaluate your installed apps as well as exploring new ones in order to stay on top of your store experience. Especially around BFCM and the holidays, you want to be sure that every app you have integrated into your store is going to add something to the customer experience. That may be directly influencing it with email and on-site features, or indirectly with back-of-house apps that improve how your team passes information for customer support tickets. 

Start by looking at which integrations you currently have installed. Are there any which are seldom used, or could be retired in favor of a newer app with better functionality? There may be new apps in the store that consolidate functionality for which you currently have to use a few integrations. Uninstalling these apps which are either unused or have outgrown their usefulness is important, as these can actually slow down site speed causing performance issues.

Next, go through your customer experience and highlight any areas where it could be improved with new functionality. For example, you may want to improve how your store implements and offers gift cards to target customers who miss out on certain items over BFCM weekend. Or perhaps you want to improve self-service options for customer service to reduce the workload for your team and in turn improve response times. It’s important to note, however, that any major integrations will likely take more time to correctly install so it may be worth consulting with a Shopify expert to determine what will be achievable in the time left before Black Friday. 

Apps and integrations can be a Shopify merchants best business partner, but only if they’re working to improve the experience. Evaluating the apps you have installed now will allow you to identify any areas where you could improve your store’s tech stack. 

4 - Go over content plans

Ahead of Black Friday weekend, it’s worth looking over your content plans for your site, social media, and email/SMS marketing. This will help you identify any gaps in your content, as well as determine if you want to bring any content plans forward. The holiday season is extremely busy, and with people shopping earlier than ever you want to always stay ahead of the competition.

Start by looking at what you plan to do with your store. There are key areas you want to review:

  • Homepage - How will your homepage change to suit the holidays and BFCM? This is one of your most important landing pages so make sure it’s going to market your holiday plans to visitors effectively.

  • Temporary collections - Will you be adding any temporary collections? These can often make it easier to display key items you wish to promote more over the holiday period, highlight which items are part of a promotion, and also collate items that are part of a gift guide.

  • Sitewide promotion - Do you have a plan in place for pop-ups or site banners that will appear across your site regardless of landing page? These can help drive more traffic to your BFCM and holiday promotions.

  • Blogs - What blogs do you plan to publish over the next few weeks? If it’s largely gift guides and gifting related, consider pulling some of this content forward to appeal to early bird shoppers.

After you review your site content plans, it’s time to look at your email and SMS marketing. Specifically, you want to identify if there are any extra email campaigns or automated flows you could add in now that could make the difference in the weeks to come. For example if you may want to further segment and personalize your Black Friday promotional campaign so that it better targets different groups of customers. There’s a sense of urgency with BFCM promotions, therefore in order to better target interested customers you may want to add SMS into your abandoned cart strategy so that they get the notification faster than they would over email alone.

5 - Find ways to improve customer support

There’s not much worse for a customer on Black Friday than finding something you want, sending an email with a question before buying, and then missing out on a deal because it took too long for customer support to respond. 90% of Americans say customer support is a deciding factor in whether or not they do business with a company, and poor customer service can cause customers to abandon their purchases which costs retailers as much as $62 Billion a year.

As well as reviewing your automations and apps around customer support, it’s also valuable to look at ways you can help your customers to help themselves. Self-service customer support is preferred by most customers, and 77% say they’ve used a self-service portal in the past. Despite this, over half of consumers say the reason they can’t resolve an issue on their own is that there isn’t enough information online. This leaves merchants with a vital opportunity to improve customer support, boost satisfaction, and reduce abandoned purchases, all without making an impact on their support team’s time. 

Your store’s FAQ will be one of the first places your customers turn to when they have a question. That’s why it’s so important that you go over all the information currently in your FAQ and ensure it’s up-to-date. If there has been a change to shipping costs or regions especially, this can confuse and frustrate customers if the information available is inaccurate.

From there, use the issues currently coming through your customer support system to determine what additional information you should include. For example if you’ve recently received a lot of questions about sizing, consider adding more detail to your FAQ about this topic with charts and guides. Finally, consider adding a holiday specific section to your FAQ that addresses the most common queries that customers will have during this period. This should include fulfillment and dispatch times, shipping delays, and your returns policy.

After your FAQ, it’s time to look at what other self-service options are available to your customers. If you already have a chatbot on your store, consider adding further automated responses that specifically address issues related to the holidays. The same goes for your social media support channels; add automated messaging that will give customers all the links they may need for your most common support issues.


Every day leading up to the holiday season you have the opportunity to do more to prepare your store for shoppers. By evaluating your current standing with issues such as page performance and apps installed, you can make decisions and tweaks now that will make a positive impact on your customer experience.

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