Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) seems to get bigger every year. And with more and more shoppers preferring to buy online, the opportunities for your online store are bigger than ever. But so are the stresses. It can be tough to know exactly what to focus on, or how to plan for the day—it’d be nice if there was a Black Friday survival guide of some sort, right?

Funny, we were just thinking that, too. So, we’ve gone ahead and assembled some tips that’ll help you ensure the big day (or big weekend) goes as well as possible. This is TPC’s E-Commerce Survival Guide to Black Friday. Let’s get started.

Get Your Site Ready

Black Friday is all about the deals. Your site needs to be ready to deliver.

Prep Your Products

What are your sales goals? What products will you be promoting? What are your best sellers?

You know your business better than anyone, so once you figure out those answers, you’re golden. Be sure to stock up enough to handle the blitz, without having scores of products left over.

Prep Your Site Promos

What marketing channels will you using leading up to, and during, the big day?

Use your email list as it’s full of people who want to hear from you. Build up anticipation for Black Friday, and reward them with an exclusive product or sale. Using a coupon code is always a big draw.

Dress your site. All it takes is a few good-looking banners to make the site look fresh and ready to sell. Use photography, bright colours and great copy. You’re well on your way.

Don’t forget to set sale dates and prices in the back end of your site. It’s one less thing to stress you out, knowing that sales will start and stop exactly when they should.

Prep Your Coupon Codes

You don’t have to use coupon codes, of course. But they’re a great option.

They give you the chance to control what deals and promos a customer uses. And they’re a simple but seriously effective way to track what deals and offers pulled in the most customers. Using different codes in your email and social media campaigns will tell you what platforms serve you best.

Get Your Packaging Ready

Your products will fly off the (virtual) shelves. Your packaging needs to be ready to (literally) deliver.

Use Custom Packaging

Since you’re not a physical store, you have fewer opportunities to sear your business and its reputation into the mind of your customers. Branded packaging is one of the most effective ways to do that.

If you’ve got the budget, you can create entire unboxing experiences using custom boxes, tissue paper and more. But if you’re looking to keep costs down, you can simply accent your existing stock packaging with custom tape or rolls of labels. That’ll help if you end up ordering late in the season, too.

Use Packaging Inserts

Don’t forget to say thanks. As much as great service and custom packaging make you memorable, it’s the little things that can stick with customers. Design a promo card that’s blank on one side, and write a nice and funny note about their purchase. Throw in some discount coupons or samples. Even candy is enough to make a customer’s eyes light up, and then you’re on their good list permanently.

Use Return-Friendly Packaging

Customers are willing to buy more from businesses that offer easier returns. It seems almost counter-intuitive, but it’s true. One of the ways you can make it easier for them (and for your team, in return) is to use return-friendly packaging supplies.

Corrugated boxes, provided they’re in good condition, are return-friendly. Just ensure they’re sized properly so they don’t cost you a fortune in return shipping. And there are mailer envelopes that have an easy-tear opening or a second peel-and-seal strip. They’re even more return-friendly and more effective for a customer to use.

If your logistics allow, consider including a return shipping label in a customer’s order. It signals you have great confidence in both your products and your customer service.

Get Your Team Ready

There’s lots to educate your people on. Once you do, trust your team. They’ll deliver.

Customer Service Teams

Your team’s likely been at this a while, but a good refresher never hurts. Make sure everyone knows the computer systems they interact with. Review your exchange and returns policies. Keep any necessary product knowledge materials nearby. And have plans for covering breaks and handling problems.

Don’t forget some delicious snacks and water for your people. Energy’s important.

Product Packing Teams

It’s important your packing teams know where everything is. That includes where products are stored and where extra packaging materials are (and when the snacks will be served!).

If you’re selling items of similar size or style, you may want to create pre-packed boxes that are ready and waiting for products to be placed in them. Or even fully packed, ready to ship, and merely waiting for a shipping label.

Use Packing Stations

Create areas your team can use to pack customer orders without being cramped or stressed. Worktables often provide the space needed to build a box, wrap a product, drop in a thank-you card, and seal it up. It’s remarkable how easy and fast it can make the packaging process become.

Use Entry Level Automation

There are plenty of packing actions that can become repetitive. Using entry level automation gadgets can help reduce monotony, speed up packing times and even reduce waste.

On-demand air cushion machines can create just the right amount of bubble wrap for packing orders in.

Tape dispensers can measure, dispense and cut packing tape with ridiculous ease. In the case of water activated tape, the right tape dispenser can also wet the adhesive for you.

Label dispensers save your nails (and your sanity!) by peeling labels from their backing.

Ever hear that quote by Ben Franklin, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”? With this Black Friday survival guide, you’re planning to succeed.

Once you’ve nailed your plans down, your site and its products will shine. Your promotions will pull and sales will soar. And your packaging will be the envy of every other online competitor. We’re looking forward to watching you clean up on Black Friday.

And when you’re ready to restock, The Packaging Company has the stock and custom packaging supplies you’ll need. We’re your e-commerce partner, after all.