Do you want to get your business ready for Black Friday shoppers? You’re about to find practical tips to make the most of this critical season. According to Deloitte, 2020 retail spending is likely to be 1-1.5% higher than in 2019 with total holiday (November to January) spending between $1,147 billion and $1,152 billion during the November-January timeframe.
Get your business ready for Black Friday.
It’s time to start planning your online marketing campaigns and logistics. Assuming your business already has an online store and a social media presence, use these steps to start planning for the holiday shopping season in advance.
1. Plan your Black Friday schedule: One day or multiple days.
By tradition, Black Friday is a one-day promotion. However, there is no reason your business can’t innovate and offer multiple Black Friday shopping days. For example, Wal-Mart has announced it is spreading its 2020 Black Friday deals over several days. Wal-Mart’s approach includes 5:00 a.m. openings on Black Friday and additional online-only promotions.
To make a multi-day Black Friday promotion attractive to your customers, consider different options on how to highlight the event. For example, if your business is limiting the number of people who can enter at any given time, a multi-day promotion is a way to make your sales accessible to more people. Aside from crowd management, you might consider using time-based promotions (e.g., get an extra 10% off when you shop between 12:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.). This type of time-based promotion is a way to incentivize customers to shop at off-peak periods.
2. Offer online-only special deals and update return policies.
Some of your customers may not be comfortable with in-person shopping in 2020. In that case, consider offering online-only deals. For example, you might reserve some special deals for Cyber Monday so online shoppers can buy at that time.
If you plan to emphasize online shopping to a greater degree, think through the whole customer experience. Specifically, some customers may be reluctant to buy items like clothing online because they may not fit properly. This source of potential customer dissatisfaction can be reduced by offering longer and more flexible return policies. Likewise, reach out to suppliers and shipping providers so you can offer realistic shipping time frames to online customers.
Since online customers may compare your return policies to Amazon’s, it is helpful to contrast your policy with Amazon’s. As of October 2020, Amazon’s return policy states: “For the 2020 holiday season, most of the items shipped between October 1 and December 31 can be returned until January 31, 2021.” Offering a holiday return policy comparable to or better than Amazon will make your online promotion more attractive.
If your business is new to online shopping, check out the section below on “Get your business ready for Black Friday when you don’t have an online store.”
3. Prepare special deals to grab customer attention.
Consider creating new product pages or revising existing product pages so customers can easily find your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. You may want to get on the phone with your graphic designers and marketing specialists to design new graphics for your website to make the deals stand out.
4. Prepare your inventory and fulfillment systems for a higher volume of customer orders.
In 2020, you should assume that historical shipping timelines and methods will need adjustment. CNN reported that “persistent postal delays are prevalent across the U.S.” as of September 2020.
There are a few ways you can proactively address shipping issues. First, post a message in your online order forms and stores advising that shipping time frames may be delayed due to heavy demand on shipping providers. Second, contact additional courier companies beyond USPS, such as FedEx and UPS, to inquire about their shipping services and pricing. Third, you may want to consider asking your employees to deliver packages to customers in some cases.
Historically, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales feature discounts. As a business owner, it is wise to align with these customer expectations as you start planning your promotions. Ask yourself and your employees where you can afford to offer a discount to attract customer interest. Use your digital business phone system to reach out to vendors right now to discuss volume discounts and fulfillment matters right now.
5. Review Small Business Saturday for marketing potential.
First launched in 2010 as a Twitter hashtag, Small Business Saturday takes place on the last Saturday of November. It is a special day for small businesses to shine and stand out because it is distinct from Black Friday and Cyber Monday. For additional inspiration on how you can take advantage of Small Business Saturday, read this article on Entrepreneur.com: 21 Simple Ideas for a Successful Small Business Saturday.
6. Test your online checkout process for reliability.
If your marketing campaigns are successful, your business may face a large volume of orders in a short time. To ensure a high-quality consumer experience, start planning for increased orders now. Contact your key suppliers and ask them about their capacity to make more shipments. Further, you may want to ask your employees about their willingness to work overtime during the holiday shopping season.
7. Launch your holiday season campaign promotion with email marketing.
As a business owner, email marketing is one of the most efficient ways to let customers know about your deals. According to a 2018 study, 59% of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI. If you see a similar return on investment on your business, consider making email marketing one of your top priorities.
Get your business ready for Black Friday when you don’t have an online store.
If your business does not have an online presence through a website or social media, you still have options to make the most of the holiday shopping season. This takes on added importance in 2020, with in-person shopping limited due to COVID-19 restrictions. Your store is less likely to be crowded in 2020 compared to previous years. An online store or in-store pickup options become even more important during Black Friday.
The first three steps outlined above still apply for a business owner who cannot take online orders. The change lies in the marketing details. For example, you may not be able to participate in Cyber Monday Sales.
Here are some alternative ways to get your business ready for Black Friday if you are not equipped for online business.
1. Look into options to get your business online.
Years ago, creating an online business storefront was challenging. Setting up the checkout process alone could take hours of effort. In 2020, multiple services can help you sell products online, such as Shopify, a platform used by more than 1.1 million websites in the United States, according to BuiltWith.com, and Google’s Google For Small Business initiative. If you have some time to start planning to go online, these services can make it easier to set up an online checkout process.
If you do not have the time or interest to set up an online store, look into social media instead. As a business owner, it is a good idea to be where your customers are. According to eMarketer, “U.S. adult social network users will spend seven more minutes per day on social networks than in 2019 [in 2020].” If your business does not use social media, you will need to use other marketing methods like direct mail to get in front of customers.
2. Prepare for a fast checkout process.
During the holiday shopping season, stores can become crowded. For some shoppers, the prospect of going shopping with large crowds may be unappealing. As a business owner, there are ways you can proactively address these concerns.
Take a close look at your current checkout process for customers. Equip your staff with cleaning supplies to keep surfaces clean. Further, take a look at your payment systems so customers can use contactless payment methods such as bank cards.
As you develop these changes, consider running a “practice Black Friday” session with your employees a week or two before the holiday shopping season officially starts. With this approach, you will have the opportunity to detect and address any problems in the checkout process.
Your customers will not know about your Black Friday or Small Business Saturday deals unless you tell them. Therefore, start planning your marketing campaigns well in advance, especially if you are using direct mail, because it can take some time to print and mail out your promotions.
What if you are reading this article a week or two ahead of Black Friday? In that case, you will need a strategy that can produce faster results, like calling customers. Use your digital phone system to contact past customers. For example, create a list of 200 customers who bought from you in the past few months. Set a goal to call 10 or 20 customers per day and invite them to your Small Business Saturday deal.
As a business owner, you can lead the calling campaign but feel free to ask your employees to join you in the calling campaign. The time you spend making calls to promote your Black Friday and Small Business Saturday offers may further increase your revenue.