The e-tailer's checklist to Black Week

Updated: November 2023

Black Week and Singles day has become increasingly popular. It is currently a highlight for many e-tailers and the start of a busy season. This guide is written for e-tailers who want to make the most of Black Week and stay one step ahead of the competition. 

When the traffic on an e-commerce site becomes too high, several things can go wrong, such as slow page loading. Consequently, visitors become irritated and leave your site to go to a competitor. If you are not prepared for extreme peaks, critical functions on the server can stop working and the entire e-commerce site may crash.

We've compiled a list of helpful tips on how to best plan to avoid downtime and slow response times.

Are you planning at the last minute? 📆 If you don't have time to check off all the points – at least make sure you have an overall plan. Start from the most business-critical steps and implement according to time available. Good luck with Black Week. 

1. Appoint a project manager and develop a plan 

Since Black Week is a significant endeavor, it's easy to overlook details and miss things along the way. Therefore, it is important to appoint a person who is responsible for managing the course of action and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.

If you don't have the time or resources within your own organization, consider hiring an external party to help you manage Black Week, the busiest shopping days of the year.

Remember that the time and budget you spend developing a plan this year will pay off many times over, as you can reuse it the following years.

The key is to not just create routines for the sake of it, but to also use them.

Many companies hire expensive consultants to get their organization in order – but then fall back into old patterns once the assignment is over. This is an easy trap to fall into if you don't have the whole organization with you from the start. So, get everyone together and go over what needs to happen for your organization to maximize Black Week’s opportunities.

2. Identify your main measurement points

It is important to clearly define what your sales goals are for Black Week in good time. Look at current data, compare it to the previous year and set realistic expectations. 📊

Use the existing data to set up key performance indicators (KPIs) such as:

  • How many visitors would you like to have during Black Week?
  • Do you meet the customer's expectations?
  • What response times should your e-commerce have, even during peak loads?
  • How long should a visitor stay on your e-commerce site?
  • What turnover do you want to achieve?

One tip is to decide what performance your online store should have, even during the busiest times, and what measures should be taken if these are not achieved. Who do you call and when? 🤔

If you have your KPIs under control from the beginning, you can start from actual data and not just your gut feeling about whether something is going well or badly. It's a way to make your goals more concrete and less emotional, helping you make the right decisions.

3. Involve your suppliers

Compile a list of available suppliers and document their responsibilities and contact details. ✍️

Make sure everyone involved in Black Week has access to the information – both other suppliers and internal staff so they know who to call. It is best if one supplier, preferably a technical implementation partner, can act as the primary contact for the entire contact chain.

Your e-commerce site is an ecosystem of different services – so it's smart to create a priority list to ensure clear communication with your most business-critical suppliers (such as Stripe, AWS, and so on). 💳

Finally, it is important to notify vendors of your marketing plan, and in which channels your campaigns will appear. This helps everyone involved to be aware and prepared for when there may be extra high pressure on your e-commerce site.

4. Set up procedures for communication and actions if something happens

If something unexpected happens during Black Week, you must first identify what is causing the problem and then take immediate action. 📌

The worst-case scenario is that the website goes down, there are long response times or that the shopping cart and payments do not work.

Identify if there are workarounds for certain situations. For example, you can temporarily exclude smaller markets so that your e-commerce site can continue to run in larger ones. 🌎

Ensure that there are clear escalation routes for when people are ill or unavailable.

5. Review service level agreements (SLAs) and contact times for your suppliers

It is often necessary to agree with the suppliers on service levels, via special service level agreements (SLA's).

Some important things to think about are:

  • Can they answer questions 24/7? 🕐
  • Do they offer extra service monitoring?
  • Is it possible to buy higher priority levels or customer service?
  • What is the turnaround time for incidents and what do escalation chains look like for urgent matters?

First and foremost, make sure this is in place for your service providers and partners. You can also, to some extent, involve companies that are part of the ecosystem of services.

6. Document planning and procedures

It is important to plan and set up procedures ahead of time for how the work will proceed during Black Week, as well as during the Christmas shopping season. 🎄

Make sure you carefully document escalation protocols, contact paths, KPIs and so on, so they can be used again in the coming years. Also keep in mind that material you develop can be used for training purposes (for example when handing over areas of responsibility) or as an introduction to new employees.

7. Evaluate, develop and reuse

When the busiest shopping days of the year are over, it is important to evaluate the routines so that you can benefit from what went well and learn from what was less successful. This makes it easier for you to develop and improve the processes for next year. 💡

The procedures you implement for Black Week and Christmas shopping can often be reused in other campaigns as well as in your daily work. 🛍️

Is there something missing from our checklist? Are you curious about our services?

At Litium, we make sure that you, as an e-tailer, can focus on sales when you use our scalable e-commerce platform. Whether during sales peaks like Black Week or just business-as-usual, we make sure your e-commerce site always performs.

Contact us today!


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