While many retailers consider Black Friday to be one of the best selling days of the year, for Amazon and many others it’s becoming a season of sales lasting weeks or even months.
While nobody wants to miss the opportunity to find a genuine bargain or to reach new audiences, the process can be fraught and it’s putting customers with limited budgets and businesses with tight margins under pressure.
The Black Friday phenomenon
In 2020 Statista, the statistics experts, found that Cyber Monday outstripped Black Friday in the USA, with sales of US $10.8billion making it the biggest online shopping day in the country’s history. In 2019, Amazon increased their sales during the period by 23% compared to 2018. In 2020 total spending was more than $188 billion.
While the figures are extraordinary, many small and medium-sized businesses are finding Black Friday a threat as they struggle to match the offers from larger companies and multinationals.
Here are some of the potential Black Friday pitfalls you could face as a retailer and some options you might like to consider.
With the intensive buying and selling anticipated for the Black Friday period concerns about online scams are high, including fake stores and deals that aren’t genuine discounts.
Your strategy should include trust elements, such as user generated content, that will reassure your potential customers that you are a reliable company offering real savings. They will have confidence in the views of their peers and you can build long-term loyalty by sharing their opinions.
Managing your stock
When online buying soared during the pandemic many businesses had to increase warehouse stock as the supply chain struggled to respond.
Make sure you use every piece of information you can collate to assess and meet demand during the Black Friday to Cyber Monday (BFCM) period. Talk to your suppliers well in advance to confirm they will make their normal deliveries and can meet any extra orders you plan to place.
Check your staffing levels and your fulfillment processes to be sure that your response will be complete from end to end.
Offering omnichannel experiences
There’s no better time to make the most of ‘micro moments’ to capture the attention of bargain hunters. You can create a whole shopping experience at every stage, from digital discovery to seamless checkouts.
If you have premises as well as an online presence, make sure that the face to face experience is just as good, with accurate information about product availability, extended opening hours, and special in-store offers.
Almost 5billion people around the world were using the internet in July 2021; over 60% of the world’s population. Nine out of 10 of them use their mobile devices to go online at least some of the time, so you won’t want to miss the opportunity to reach them.
Make sure your ecommerce site is responsive to engage with mobile users. Since Google penalizes sites that aren’t responsive, you will also avoid throwing away all the effort that you have put in to your site as you drop down the search rankings.
Once you have done all you can to deliver great offers and win new sales, you will inevitably have to deal with some returns. The purchase might not meet your customer’s expectations or they might simply have bought on impulse, tempted by your offer price. If you have given your customers the option to purchase items as gifts you could still be seeing returns in the new year.
Whatever the time of year returns cost retailers billions of dollars so everything you can do to reduce this overhead will help to improve your bottom line.
Giving accurate product information and high quality images will help your customers to make good choices so they won’t need to return their purchases.
The cost of delivery
According to research by the couriers, express and postal industry in 2019, post offices across Europe delivered a record volume of orders during BFCM.
Many customers are now becoming more aware of the environmental impact of their purchases. Cardboard and plastic packaging and the fuel needed for delivery must be carefully managed and explained.
Some movements are actively encouraging people not to make purchases for items like fashion, for example. Other businesses have reduced their activities during Black Friday and some retailers close all together like the sports equipment brand, REI. Their #OptOutside campaign encourages people to spend time outside instead of shopping on Black Friday.
Small and sustainable businesses are joining a movement called Green Friday to raise awareness of alternatives to ongoing consumption. Studies have shown that up to two thirds of shoppers are willing to pay more for sustainable products, so they are tapping in to a powerful trend.
What you can do now to avoid Black Friday pitfalls
To keep your brand strong and relevant you will need to be well prepared for Black Friday. Your website and stores must be ready for extra visitors and you must deliver top quality experiences. More than four out of 10 shoppers are likely to take advantage of buy online, pick up in store options (BOPIS) and other flexible options, so you must be ready to meet and exceed their expectations.
Make sure you can be found online with an excellent search engine optimization strategy, check your site speed and performance, and make sure your checkout is frictionless.
Confirm your suppliers can meet your requirements and that your team is ready for the post-BFCM returns.