Black Friday planning 2020

Black-Friday-Avasam

As we navigate our way through the busy quarter four businesses are all looking to maximise the amount of profit they can. That’s no different from any year, but since this year has been particularly tricky for all of us – a global pandemic with lockdowns, Brexit, a US election – businesses need to seriously make the most of every opportunity. Black Friday hasn’t traditionally been a British holiday, but since eCommerce has grown, we have seen more and more businesses worldwide making use of it to promote their products – most notably with Amazon, who are (of course) based in the US.

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is the day after American Thanksgiving is Black Friday, and is normally the last Friday in November. Traditionally, it signified the point in the year at which businesses moved from being in debt (being ‘in the red’) to turning a profit (being ‘in the black’). While that doesn’t apply to many businesses these days – especially businesses that diversify their inventory with DropShipping, rather than buying stock – the name stuck, and retailers continued to use the occasion to boost sales ahead of Christmas.

Cyber Monday is an artificial event, having been created by retailers in 2005 to encourage customers to shop online. Hype that was built soon translated into increased sales, and retailers have begun to use the whole long weekend to make as many sales as possible.

Why are Black Friday sales important?

As the popularity of Black Friday has increased as a marketing event, customers worldwide have started to use Black Friday as the point at which they start their Christmas shopping – and to miss out on those sales can be costly. Here’s a few figures to help make it clearer:

  • In the UK, Black Friday transactions rose by 7.2% in 2019, with the value of transactions up by 16.5%
  • UK shoppers spent £37.4 billion in November 2019
  • £8.57 billion of that £37.4 billion was spent between Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • There were 1,184 transactions per second between 1pm and 2pm on Black Friday

Considering that Black Friday this year falls during ‘lockdown 2.0’ for England, the opportunities to make those sales start now – so if you’re not quite as prepared as you could be, read on.

Tactics to increase sales on Black Friday

Whether you’re a new business, or you’ve been in the game for a while, here are some of the ways that we know can be effective in increasing sales through the Black Friday – Cyber Monday weekend and into the countdown to Christmas.

Planning ahead

We all know that perfect planning prevents poor performance, and with that in mind if you haven’t got your plan squared away already, act now. Create your plan on a calendar so that you know when your different marketing is going to go out – from publishing your gift guides on your blog, sharing them on your social media and ensuring the products you’re promoting are available and easily found on your website.

In addition, don’t forget to plan how you are going to manage your customer service across all your platforms – whether that means you will have additional staff to help with customer service requests, or whether you sign up for, and make use of systems like Replyco to deal with your enquiries more efficiently.

Gift guides

Create gift guides to inspire customers. It isn’t a particularly innovative idea, since it is a tactic that retailers both on- and offline have been using for decades. But it does work, and it isn’t too tricky – simply think of your target customers, and what they would be likely to enjoy receiving as a gift. Then, look at related products, and group them with other items that would work well together. There is no one set way of doing this, so get creative depending on what would appeal to your customers. Once they are ready and looking great, publish them on your website, share them by email, on your social media feeds and talk about them on your Story posts – basically, everywhere you can!

While you’re working on your gift guides and doing the design work for those, don’t forget that gift cards are big sellers for Christmas, so if your customers are likely to want to purchase them, get ahead and create some printable gift card designs. Receiving a voucher code in your inbox is nice, but having something to unwrap on Christmas morning is nicer! Having that printable voucher is just another reason for customers to come back to you – and the design work doesn’t need to take all that long. Simple is often preferable, especially as those printed sheets are likely to be recycled anyway. But this small amount of work now means that you’re likely to have more orders waiting for you when you’re back to work the day after Boxing Day.

Email marketing

As long as you’ve got consent from your customers to contact them for marketing purposes, make use of your email list to make your customers aware of what you’re offering. If you’re not in touch with them, chances are they will shop with a competitor – out of sight, out of mind after all.

If you’re able to separate your email list by the number of orders placed, consider offering your regular customers a time-bound discount code as a thank you for shopping with you throughout the year.

Social media marketing

Building hype ahead of time is essential, so create sneak peek posts, videos, show off your products and deals – basically, get your social media followers excited about everything you have going on. They’ll like your posts, share them and tag their friends – which boosts your presence throughout the year too.

Prepare your posts in advance and schedule them to save you time when you get busy, and you won’t have to think about them, apart from to respond to comments and DMs. Don’t forget to get the right hashtags on your post for maximum visibility, and if you’ve got a relationship with influencers, and it isn’t too late to get them to create some content for you, do so.

Free gift with purchase

If you can’t offer major discounts on your inventory because your margins are already tight, perhaps you have plenty of stock that you need to clear? If that’s the case, you might offer your customers a free gift with purchases – whether you set a minimum order requirement or not. For some businesses this won’t be viable, but this close to Christmas everyone loves a free gift! This sort of incentive will nearly always increase sales.

Add new products

People love a new, or innovative product for Christmas, and if they think (or know) that they have managed to get themselves either an exclusive product, or a deal, they are much more likely to make a purchase. We spoke about the importance of diversifying your inventory for our guest post on the Parcelhub blog, and it really can make all the difference.

You don’t need to have cash available to buy stock in – and by now, it might be too late or cost you more to do so. But it isn’t too late to arrange for suppliers to fulfil the orders for you. DropShipping from China isn’t going to work, but if you can DropShip from UK suppliers, you can snag a huge amount of extra profits with relatively little additional work – especially if you can automate the processes by using a platform. If this sounds good, book a call with a member of our team, and sign up for a free account – we can have you up and running, and help you connect to your existing systems the next working day in most cases.

Update your stationery

Since most businesses are unlikely to see their customers in person, there is even more importance placed on creating a good impression. Update your packing slips: make sure your contact details are correct, social media handles are on your packing slips to encourage them to follow you, be sure to add good wishes and thank them for their order. (Don’t forget to check your spelling!) If it is feasible, add discount codes for use throughout December to keep customers coming back to you as they shop for the festive season.

Add to other sales channels

Amazon and eBay are going to be BUSY throughout the next eight weeks – even busier than usual, anyway! With that in mind, it is well worth doing a check on your sales figures and review your sales channels. Which channels are working for you? Which ones aren’t? Have you considered which other marketplaces could perform better for you at little to no cost?

More customers than ever are starting to search for alternatives to Amazon and eBay, so check whether other, newer marketplaces such as OnBuy could be lucrative for your business.

The high maintenance ideas

These ideas take a bit more work, both to get them set up and to keep them going, but they can definitely be worth the effort if you can put them into play.

Deal on the hour, every hour

This one really does take a lot of effort – both in the planning stage and the execution. But if you have a lot of customers coming to your website, then having a deal ‘on the hour, every hour’ will keep customers coming back to see what special offer they can snag this time. Tie this up with your social media posts – both before, and during. Use Story posts in addition to in-feed posts to keep driving traffic to your store, and make sure you’ve announced the bonanza to your email list too.

Don’t forget that customers may contact you on social media as you announce the next offer, so you’ll need to be able to reply to messages promptly to keep their interest. If you’re a team of one, this might not be the easiest promotion idea, so if you’re considering this strategy, make sure you can cover your enquiries. If you don’t have enough people to handle your social media, other customers might see that you haven’t replied and take this as an indicator that they shouldn’t buy from you.

Like we said, this isn’t necessarily going to be an easy one to handle – but there are a number of apps available for Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento that can help you to keep on top of this type of special event without needing to update your website in real-time.

Continue special offers until the end of Monday (and beyond!)

Black Friday isn’t just about selling on Friday. Extending your sales, special offers and marketing activity until the end of Monday will help, but your customers will still be shopping past Cyber Monday and right up until the last posting date before Christmas – and in some cases, maybe even beyond that. Plan for more special deals and offers throughout December and into January to maintain interest and keep customers coming back.

While you’re thinking about shopping events before Christmas, consider whether Singles Day (11.11) could be an opportunity for you, or whether you want to create your own, brand-specific sale dates.

Spend on ads

Speculate to accumulate is a phrase that is nothing new to you if you’ve been in business for more than a hot minute. Although social media ads are more expensive during peak periods like Black Friday, many businesses see huge returns on their ad spend during this time, whether it is Google Ads, Facebook, or on other social media channels. You’ll need to decide if you’re going to increase your ad spend depending on the current state of your accounts, but don’t leave it to the last minute if you’re planning to use ads as part of your strategy – get them in place sooner than later.

Consider donating to a charity

Social responsibility is really having a moment right now – and we fully approve of this, especially in December, which is the season of goodwill! Customers are looking for reasons to shop with businesses, and so if you can’t beat prices on Amazon and eBay, then think about whether you can donate a percentage of your profits to charity. This may encourage customers to buy from you, even if your prices aren’t the cheapest – because they will feel like they are doing something good, without needing to make any extra effort.

Be absolutely clear about what you will be doing with your donations, and don’t forget to schedule a blog post or social media posts in early January to show how much you raised, and what specifically you donated. You might not think people check, but they do – and so your transparency is essential to prevent poor word of mouth.

The Takeaway

Many retailers don’t create huge discounts for their customers, even if they are trying to clear stock – because they don’t want their margins to take such a huge hit. Rather, the focus for much of Black Friday isn’t on what you’re selling, but rather on how you’re marketing your goods, and what you can offer your customers.

If not, our biggest tip is to make the most of customer demand through the season by diversifying your inventory with Avasam products. This takes just a few minutes to sign up, and getting started is quick and easy. You’ll keep customers interested and coming back to you, with none of the effort or expense of having to buy inventory in advance. Sign up for your free account, or book a call to discuss how Avasam can work with your existing systems.

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Dawn Matthews

Dawn has worked in technical and customer supporting roles for over 20 years. Most of her career was spent in technical services at top rated UK universities, which has given her a keen eye for detail. A lucky escape led her to the field of eCommerce in 2017, and she’s never looked back.

Dawn studied in the field of social sciences with the Open University, achieving an MSc in Forensic Psychology at the same time as working two jobs. She regularly applies principles of psychology from her studies to her work, and outside of her role at Avasam she is busy writing her second book.

Follow Dawn on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/dawn-matthews

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