Before the last slice of pumpkin pie is eaten and the leftover turkey has been packed away, many Americans start scoping out deals for the largest shopping event of the year. In 2015, revenue from Black Friday sales amounted to $1.6 billion, and online revenues from both Black Friday and Cyber Monday have grown steadily year after year.
Research from Media IQ indicates that Americans are six times more likely to make purchases on Black Friday compared to sales on regular Fridays. It’s no wonder that even retailers outside of America have started participating in Black Friday.
So how can you ensure that your business is ready for the biggest shopping day of the year and the unofficial start to the holiday season? In this post, we’ll discuss ways to get your store ready, whether you run a brick-and-mortar shop or an ecommerce business. We’ve created a week-by-week timeline and the steps you need to take so that you’re prepared for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Image Credit: Statista
One Month to Black Friday…
Start Preparing for Sales
In the retail world, it’s never too early to start preparing for Black Friday. Some businesses start as soon as back-to-school season is over, and most retailers begin at least a month in advance. Calculating prices, printing store signage, updating a business website, and training employees all take a significant amount of time; however, the main reason why smart businesses get a head start is because most Black Friday shoppers begin scouting out deals early.
According to a report from Nextopia, large retail chains including Walmart, Best Buy, and Target started advertising their Black Friday sales as early as November 10 in 2014 – three whole weeks before the big event. The sooner you start thinking about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the sooner you’re able to let shoppers know what’s in store and increase the likelihood that they’ll take note.
Two Weeks to Black Friday…
Take Stock of Inventory
Don’t let misinformation about inventory stall your Black Friday success. If you own a brick-and-mortar store, now is the time to count and recount what you have in stock and order more product if necessary. Because many customers research Black Friday deals online before heading into stores, it’s worthwhile to have an accurate product count.
It’s not only important to take stock of sales inventory, but of sales equipment too. Shopping bags and receipt tape might not be something on your mind as you prepare for the largest sale of the year, but having enough of both is essential to ensuring your Black Friday sale runs smoothly. If you run an online store, stock up on packing and shipping materials, so you can mail all items sold on Cyber Monday out within a few days.
Image Credit: BlackFriday.com
Start Spreading the Word
Once you have a Black Friday business plan intact, begin letting your customers know through email marketing, bloggers and influencers, and social media channels. Here, we’ll break down each method.
According to Custora, email marketing was by far the biggest contributor to online sales on Black Friday in 2014, driving 27.3% of sales that year. Email marketing is also the easiest way to stay in contact with loyal year-round customers, and it’s 50% easier to sell to existing customers than brand new ones. Be sure to encourage online visitors to sign up for an enewsletter in order to learn about Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals in advance of the general public.
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Bloggers and Influencers
It’s no secret that bloggers and digital influencers have the ability to help convert readers and followers into shoppers. The numbers are impressive: according to Women’s Wear Daily, blogs like Pink Peonies reportedly drove $1 million in sales to Nordstrom online over the holiday season in 2014. Another website, ShopStyle Collective, saw blogger-affiliated December sales increase 315% year-over-year. If it’s in your budget, teaming up with a few bloggers or influencers that embody your business and target your consumers is worthwhile.
One thing to keep in mind: start reaching out early. According to Socialyte, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the most popular dates for brands to connect with bloggers. Also, consider booking bloggers for multi-day campaigns. After all, Black Friday is the start to the holiday season – there’s many more shopping days to take advantage of after that.
Social media isn’t the highest revenue driver, but it’s still a worthwhile avenue to explore, especially because businesses can use them for free. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all great platforms to tease sales and push high-demand products. If your business or brand has a large Snapchat following, the app is also a great way to give consumers sneak previews of what’s in store.
According to data from Nanigans, Facebook ads perform particularly well in the lead up to Black Friday. In 2014, click-through rates were up 66% on Thanksgiving and 36% on Black Friday compared to click-through ads earlier in the week. The peak on Thanksgiving tells us shoppers are eager to research deals early.
One Week Until Black Friday…
Image Credit: Milani Cosmetics
Update Your Website
Shoppers should have a clear idea of what your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are as soon as they land on your website. A single, strong sales message, such as “30% off all regular priced merchandise” or “Take an additional 25% off all sale items,” is clearer and more effective than having several different deals going on.
For brick-and-mortar businesses, ensure that your Black Friday store hours are clearly displayed. In fact, even if they’re the same as regular store hours, it may be worth reiterating so that customers know exactly when they can shop on the day.
If you’re an online business preparing for Cyber Monday, consider doing a test run to ensure that the website runs smoothly. According to Capterra, online retailers should work with their servers to confirm the maximum number of shoppers your website can handle at a time. It also doesn’t hurt to have a fresh pair of eyes on your website once everything is in place. Guaranteeing your online shop is easy to navigate and efficient to use is critical to customers making purchases on Cyber Monday.
The key to operating smoothly is a well-trained team. Make sure all employees are aware of what’s on sale and are able to inform customers. Staff at brick-and-mortar shops should also be familiar with all of the items in store, or in the store section they oversee. Finally, because theft often occurs in high-volume situations, remind staff of your store’s security protocol before doors open.
Other Things to Consider
If you don’t already do it, consider offering free shipping on Cyber Monday. According to Kissmetrics, free shipping can raise a company’s net profit by 30% if done correctly. That’s because in general, shoppers are willing to spend more money on an item than pay an additional amount for shipping. If you’re unsure of how shipping might affect your revenue, create a minimum order value required for free shipping. A study done by Red Door showed that adding a shipping threshold increased orders by 90%.
For brick-and-mortar stores concerned about competition from online retailers, consider offering free in-store pick-up as an option for online purchases. Many shoppers prefer this option because there’s often less of a waiting period than on items that get shipped by mail. It also helps to increase foot traffic in-store, and once a customer enters the store, it increases the likelihood of incremental purchasing.
Today’s shoppers use multiple platforms to research sales and make informed purchases, and according to Media IQ, mobile devices were the biggest driver of sales in 2014. In fact, a staggering 60% of consumers used their phones to research products, compare prices, and ultimately make purchases. Ensure that your business is online and easy to use on multiple channels. Find out more about multi-channel selling here.
A Final Word
Black Friday and the holiday shopping season is a busy, challenging time of year. However, preparing early and adopting even a few of these tips can help alleviate some of that stress and ensure that operations run smoothly. Excitement for Black Friday and Cyber Monday has grown steadily every year. It’s time your business join in the fun.