Business development · 4 November 2019

Black Friday advice for small businesses

Black Friday 2018

If your small business hasn’t heard about Black Friday, (the annual consumer retail event that takes place on November 29), then you should. Last year, UK shoppers spent a whopping £1.23bn over that weekend.

Your business is missing out on some crucial yearly sales if you fail to engage with it, (experts claim sales on Black Friday 2018 beat Christmas levels and were the highest on record for the entire year).

Black Friday was once defined by massive consumer interest in high street retail. In particular, consumers went for discounted tech goods such as computers and televisions. But trends have changed.

Black Friday is changing – and businesses have to adapt to it

Black Friday 2018
Black Friday is no longer defined by high street sales success.

Black Friday and its sister event, Cyber Monday (taking place immediately after that weekend) have become a combined and online-focused concept where an entire range of products and services are heavily discounted in order to spark consumer interests.

This comes as businesses respond to the increasing popularity of e-commerce transactions among consumers and vie with each other to remain relevant to the growing number of customers who prefer searching for consumer goods online.

Considering these changes, how can smaller businesses adequately prepare and prosper from Black Friday this year?

Here are some predictions about this year’s upcoming event from small business owners and industry experts:

1. “Stretch the sales period and create more targeted campaigns,” – Philip Hall, Managing Director Europe, CommerceHub

We found that 75% of 2018 holiday shoppers started their shopping on or before Black Friday. The trend of stretching sales event periods is also reflected in Amazon’s move to make this year’s Prime Day a full 48 hours.

This shift demonstrates the need for retailers to spread the availability of stock and capability to deliver over a longer period of high demand leading up to Black Friday and into the Christmas period.

Greater agility is needed…

It’s a time of year when internal warehousing and carrier networks are pushed to their limits, with 60% of customers saying they had experienced a delay in receiving products.

Retailers need to create greater agility in their networks and better harness the capacity of their trading partners through direct-to-consumer options like drop shipping.

By utilising drop shipping, retailers can ease the pressure on their internal supply chain, creating a better shopping experience for the customer, reducing failures and building brand loyalty.

Think about different generations…

Retailers also need to consider the different buying habits of different consumer demographics when using targeted campaigns.

For example, Generation Z and Millennials have more confidence that their deliveries will arrive on-time and are prepared to wait until the event is upon them, which is not the case for most older consumers. Retailers must account for stark differences like this to stay competitive, and great partners can help.

2. “Focus on the user journey,” – Olivia Rainford, B2B Manager, Encore Digital Media

Optimise your company landing pages: especially those promoting discounted products. The user journey, load times and ease of purchase can make the difference between a purchase or a frustrating website crash.

Ensure you don’t just treat Black Friday as a day – make sure it’s a longer period to compete with the bigger players, who will discount a week either side or sometimes even more.

3. “Remind customers that your small business cares,” – Ian Jones, Founder, LoLo

SME retailers have an advantage on Black Friday as it allows businesses to remind customers that they are there all year, they are knowledgeable, and they care about their customers needs more than the customer’s money.

Local businesses intimately understand local needs and can engage with their customers’ local social circles making them unique and innovative. Local businesses can prosper on Black Friday as they are trusted, accessible, and have a local purpose, unlike some of their larger competitors.

4. “Get operationally ship-shape,” – Sarah Hauge, PR & Marketing Manager, Mad Beauty

My tips from a marketing point of view including preparing your customers about the offers that will be coming. Maybe get them to sign up to a specific Black Friday list.

Remind them the day before Black Friday and maybe give them a sneak peek of the products that will be included in your sale and what discounts they may see.

Also, prepare your backend operations so that your staff, warehouse, website, payments systems can all cope with a huge surge in traffic, sales and transactions. The last thing you want is your website not being able to cope, you can’t dispatch on time or worse you can’t take payments.

Although Black Friday is a fantastic opportunity it is also a time that if you don’t get things right, you can lose customers.

5. “Ramp up social media and focus on engagement,” – Andy Bojko, Manager, Hidepark

Black Friday is crucial for any e-commerce business – it is a time to excel and introduce your products to customers when they are most engaged. With this in mind, there are a few things you can do to help your e-commerce business flourish in this valuable period:

You can use previous year analytics to see what sold well, if you sold out of a certain product, ensure enough stock has been ordered for this year.

Your marketing team should also ensure all channels are prepared for the rush of potential customers. Engagement with your customers on social media is also crucial at this time with deals and vast amounts of online shopping, engagement will be at its highest. If you can talk to customers online in a good manner they will remember this valuable customer service and may return for future conversions.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Annie May is the Features Editor at Real Business and Business Advice. Following her graduation from LSE, she embarked upon a freelance career in current affairs journalism. Annie has written on subjects varying from African history and contemporary politics to community business and current affairs news in London. At Real Business and Business Advice, Annie is passionate about highlighting inclusive and diverse business disruptors and organisations for our evolving readership. Annie believes in fostering community inclusion and has volunteered for organisations such as Fairfield House, a UK based Rastafari centre and a senior citizen association for ethnic minority men and women.

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