Black Friday is one of the most important days of the year for most businesses. That is no different for online businesses. However, many businesses simply assume that they will make more sales when Black Friday comes around, without any preparation. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. So how do you prepare your store to get the most out of Black Friday?
What is Black Friday?
Black Friday is the name for the Friday following Thanksgiving in the United States. This means it takes place on the fourth Friday of November, which is the 27th of November in 2020. The day signifies the start of the festive shopping season for many people, and is considered to be one of the biggest sale days of the year. Many stores open earlier, and for longer hours on Black Friday, whilst online stores are known for often starting their sales a few days prior.
When is Black Friday?
This year, Black Friday takes place on the 27th of November. However, we may see many online stores starting their sales a few days, or maybe even weeks, early. Online stores starting sales slightly early is not unusual. However, due to the current circumstances around the world caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many will choose to start sales even earlier.
Will Black Friday be influenced by this year’s economic climate?
Black Friday will undoubtedly be somewhat influenced by the 2020 economic climate. Lots of people will have less spare cash to spend, and what they do spend is likely to be on different products to what would normally catch their interest.
So far, we have also seen several sales pushed back, to the point where the sales that are normally spread across a year have merged into one long sale. This may cause people to take less interest in Black Friday. The most significant of the sales that was pushed back was Prime Week, which normally takes place in July. This year Prime Week only took place in mid-October.
We also see a notable increase of online purchases in the UK, due to the pandemic.
This could further influence spending in certain sectors. And with shops unlikely to be open in many nations around the world, this pattern of spending seems set to stay for the near future.
All in all, there is no surefire way of telling whether each individual business will be affected drastically. Some sectors will likely see a boost in sales, whilst others may well struggle more than they did in previous years. One thing is for sure, this Black Friday is more unpredictable and challenging than any other to date.
How to deal with the increased online competition
With Coronavirus still influencing daily life in many countries, high street retailers have been forced to turn to selling online in order to continue doing business. For online sellers, this means only one thing, increased competition.
Source: Edge by Ascential
So what is the best way to deal with this rise in competition?
One method is to highlight your previous successes to your customers. If you have been selling online for a while, it is highly likely you will have reviews from your customers. You can use these to your advantage, by showcasing them to potential buyers. As a lot of your competitors will be relatively new to online selling, this gives you an immediate advantage.
Another factor you can use to your advantage over your newly extended competition is your experience. Even a notice on your page stating how long you’ve been selling online will help to generate increased trust between your business and the buyer. And if you add to that customer service techniques, selling techniques, and other things you have learnt over time, that advantage will be further enhanced.
Last but not least, you can also utilise your pre-established business links. This could be anything from good relations with suppliers, to effective order management. Good relations with suppliers may allow you to get cheaper prices for products/parts, and therefore offer the same cut prices to potential buyers. Whilst effective order management will allow you to fulfil orders at a better pace, and more reliably than your new competitors. Both of these factors will help to give you more of a competitive edge.
6 methods to prepare your store for the Black Friday rush
Preparation for Black Friday has never been more important than in 2020. So what are the best ways to prepare and get the most from the world-renowned day of sales?
Test your website
Testing your website prior to the Black Friday rush is one of the most important methods of preparation. Firstly, you need to test the speed of your website. In order to maximise your sales, you need to ensure your website has a good load speed. A slow website will deter a substantial amount of potential buyers.
Secondly, you should also test the navigation of your website. It is important that it is easy for customers to get around if they do click on one of your ads. You should make it clear how to find different sections of products on your website, as well as other important information such as contact details, returns information, and more.
Lastly, you should try to ensure your website can withstand high levels of traffic. Black Friday will see an almost definite rise in traffic over a short period. Many websites are simply not made to withstand this level of traffic, so it’s wise to test it beforehand. After all, this is one of the most profitable days of the year for businesses.
Optimise your product feed
When preparing your store for Black Friday, an optimised product feed goes a long way. A well optimised feed will help to ensure your ads not just being seen by large numbers of potential customers, but also by the right customers.
You can optimise your feed in a number of ways. Here are just a few of those ways:
Advertise your best selling products
By focusing on advertising your best selling products, you are more likely to make sales. You can also focus on your most profitable products (those with high profit margins), or exclude unprofitable products. All of these techniques will likely see you improve sales.
Utilise custom labels
Custom labels are one of the most useful feed metrics, as you can add anything from price margins to seasonal products. This allows you to further specify what you advertise, and focus on the products that will be more profitable at certain times.
Spend time perfecting your titles
Titles are a large part of what determines your ranking on many eCommerce websites. They are also the first thing many customers will look at. Therefore, you need to ensure your titles are search engine friendly, and easily understood. Don’t forget to include the most important keywords.
Only advertise available products
By adding product quantity to your feed, you can avoid advertising products that are out of stock or products that are limited in availability. From a customer experience point of view, someone who clicks on an ad of a product that’s out of stock is likely to think twice before clicking on your ad in the future.
Perfect your images
Along with titles, images are one of the first things customers look at. Therefore, they should always be eye-catching. They should also clearly show what it is you’re selling. Like in the example below. Remember to stay within the platform’s image requirements!
Categorise your products
Product categorisation is very important, as it helps customers narrow down their searches. Accurate categorisation helps to improve how your product ranks organically, whilst also making it more likely to appear to customers who are interested in it.
Another tip I’d like to share is to include as many product feed specifications as possible. Not only does this prevent you from having to fix those annoying merchant errors, it also makes your ad immediately more relevant and entices online shoppers to click.
Be ready for plenty of customer service enquiries
Black Friday is the busiest time of the year for most businesses. And this doesn’t just regard sales. Black Friday also increases the amount of customer service enquiries from those who are considering making a purchase but have questions about a product.
It is also likely you will receive more questions regarding delivery and returns, as people look to take advantage of as many deals as possible. This could lead to frequent purchases of several of the same items. For example, customers may purchase three sizes of one item of clothing, returning the two that do not fit.
With the increased amount of online shoppers this year, it is also quite possible that courier companies will be overwhelmed during Black Friday. This could also lead to an increase of enquiries related to delivery and return times.
Customer satisfaction is a vital part of Black Friday success. Staying on top of your customer service enquiries will go a long way to keeping your buyers happy, and keeping satisfaction high. For that reason, it may also be worth ensuring you are sufficiently staffed, with happy employees.
Make sure your order management system is flawless (ensure you have sufficient stocks)
Ensuring your order management is working efficiently will play a large part of determining your Black Friday success. You can do this by making sure your website is able to deal with a large quantity of customers and orders at once. You should also make sure that you have sufficient stocks of each product to complete orders. Whilst a reliable courier is also vital for completing orders and returns.
You should be aware that during Black Friday, you may also receive a large quantity of returns and enquiries, as well as orders. Therefore, it is important you can fulfil them all at a good speed to ensure customers return to you in the future.
Use social media and email marketing to draw attention to your products
Whilst marketplace advertising will be the main draw directly to your products, social media and email marketing are a great place to help draw people towards your brand.
Social media is a great option if you want to try to build a bridge between your customers and your brand, especially during the current climate. It is likely that the Black Friday hashtag will be prominent on Twitter and Instagram. This gives you a great opportunity to create additional brand awareness.
You can also make use of influencers on Instagram to advertise individual products. However, you should ensure that any influencer you do choose to use, represents the brand image you are hoping to portray.
In addition to all that, social media is also the choice of younger customers for making product related enquiries. Therefore, regular monitoring of your social media networks during and around Black Friday is essential.
Email marketing is also useful for large events like Black Friday. Email marketing allows you to reach out to existing customers, and potential customers. You can send anything from newsletters to lists of products available at a discounted price.
You could even create your own, online, mini event for customers to get involved in further discounts. By using email marketing in this way, you can create a personal link with your customers, whilst giving them a reason to come back to your brand after Black Friday is over.
Utilise various channels
Black Friday is a massive opportunity for stores. Therefore, you shouldn’t restrict yourself if you don’t have to. If you have the capacity to sell across numerous channels, we recommend doing so. Selling across multiple channels will expose your products and your brand to more consumers. It will also help you to compare which channels make you the most profit, which will benefit you long after Black Friday ends.
In addition to all that, each channel will bring different things to your store. For example, Amazon will have the largest customer base. Whist Fruugo will let you use one store to sell to a global audience.
Despite this year’s Black Friday being largely unpredictable, you can still get prepared so that your business has the best chance of success possible. Make sure to test your website thoroughly beforehand, and be ready to fight for a visible spot over multiple channels.
Black Friday accounts for the majority of many business’s annual profits, so a profitable Black Friday goes a long way to keeping things moving in the right direction.
Originally published Nov 24, 2020, updated Jan 16, 2023