High Streets Initiative 21 November 2017

Three Black Friday tips to help small retailers boost sales and stand out

British shoppers are Shoppers are predicted to spend £966m, compared to £1.53bn across the continent
UK retail sales are expected to reach £2.6bn on Black Friday 2017

Writing for Business Advice, Francesca Nicasio, retail expert at ePOS software provider Vend, provides readers with three Black Friday tips to maximise trade across the sales weekend.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which will take place this year on Friday 24 November and Monday 27 November, are famous for huge deals and steep discounts. That’s why participating in these days can make it feel like it’s just for the big retailers.

But can small and medium retailers reap rewards (and profits) from these two shopping events too? The short answer is yes.

Exclusive Vend customer data from the last two years shows that Black Friday weekend is becoming an increasingly critical period for smaller UK retailers as well. Last year, the weekend gave UK independent retailers a 32 per cent boost in retail spending compared to the November average – a 22 per cent increase from 2015.

So how can you ensure that your business nails Black Friday this weekend?

Consider the three following Black Friday tips:

  1. Discount whilst remaining profitable

Trying to compete with the steep discounts of big box stores will eat dangerously into your margins. So, instead of attempting to match the prices and deals of retail giants, level the playing field by focusing on things that you’re good at. If you do decide to run sales on these days, be strategic with how they’re carried out.

You can do this by discounting bundles of products rather than individual items, or offer discounts on older merchandise that you want to get rid of, rather than new or popular items.

You could also set conditions with your discounts. For instance, you could offer free shipping with a minimum purchase amount.

Our Bricks & Clicks video series is helping retailers strike a balance between growing a brand online and establishing a physical presence

Another tip is to offer promotions that add value. For example, you could throw in a gift when people purchase above a certain threshold (e.g. “free tote bag for every £75 purchase”.) Or, you could offer an added service with each purchase (e.g. “free makeover with every purchase”).

  1. Use social media to your advantage

Generate buzz and excitement beforehand by posting Black Friday and Cyber Monday teasers online. Using social media is a great way to accomplish this, so get on the networks that your customers are using, and post sneak peeks of your offers.

For example, Iris + Poppy, a US online lifestyle boutique, are running a carefully scheduled competition giveaway on their Instagram feed, where the winner will receive a $100 voucher the day before Black Friday, raising awareness of their Black Friday deals and enticing people to shop.

Brands that do this can then keep the momentum going afterwards, effectively transitioning into the Christmas sales period.

  1. Find a unique sales angle

Come up with a unique angle with whatever initiatives you decide to run on these days.

Remember, plenty of other stores will be running major sales so a generic discount or promotion won’t grab a shopper’s attention and long term memory.

Take TopShelf Style (now Isalis), an apparel store in San Francisco, California. On Cyber Monday in 2015, TopShelf ran a “UN-CYBER MONDAY SALE” in which customers would enjoy a “Buy One, Get One 50 per cent off” offer by shopping in-store. “We would rather see you in person,” the shop said on Instagram.

Black Friday weekend is still an amazing opportunity for UK retailers and, when executed effectively, can help small businesses soar into a profitable holiday period. Taking on just one or two of these tips this weekend will help Christmas come early for your business.

Francesca Nicasio is retail expert at Vend

Find out how to ensure your employees maintain productivity on Black Friday

This article is part of a wider campaign called the High Streets Initiative, a new section of Business Advice championing independent and small retailers by identifying the issues that put Britain’s high streets under pressure. Visit our High Streets Initiative section to find out more.

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