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Preparing Your Business for Black Friday
by Startacus Admin
By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail - Benjamin Franklin
Black Friday is on 25 November, the day after America’s Thanksgiving. Once only an American thing, Black Friday has found its way around the world and has become a popular method of making obscene amounts of money through one day of sales and discounts, traditionally mainly on electronics and fashion products.
Cyber Monday is a more recent addition, whereby the same same kind of sales physical shops see on the Friday are taken online. Naturally, sales are in full swing online on Black Friday anyway, so in reality it’s just another way of stretching out the sale. Indeed, some retailers don’t need to stick a fancy name onto extra days to stretch it out, with the likes of Amazon having a whole week of deals for Black Friday.
There is a darker side to Black Friday, of course, and more and more shops opt out of the offline side of it every year. But we’re not here to discuss the irony of rushing to the shops to get into fist fights with people over TVs and dresses the day after giving thanks for what you have. Whether your business takes part is entirely up to you, and if it does, these tips will help you to prepare.
Your preparations for Black Friday will obviously be quite different depending on whether you are an online or offline retailer (though, really, even if you’re offline you should be online!). Something both may have in common, though, is stock levels.
Your physical shop will want to ensure that it has sufficient stock so your Black Friday doesn’t end prematurely. The flip side to this is that you don’t want to go crazy buying in stock only to find that this year is another in which barely a soul walks the streets on 26 November. So to avoid being out of pocket, do your research. What is Black Friday usually like in your town or city - specifically on your street? How do similar businesses usually fare on this day? What are analysts expecting it to be like this year, and can you find local forecasts? It might seem over the top, but it’s potentially a lot of money we’re talking about - both coming in and going out.
Your online shop isn’t free of the same consideration. Where does your stock come from? If you box it up and post it out yourself, then it’s not much different to the offline preparation. But if you use drop shipping, don’t sit back and think all is well. Remember that your wholesaler isn’t just your wholesaler. Contact them and discuss - as far as they are willing - their own preparations and stock levels. Do they have sufficient stocks of your best selling products? There’s a good chance these are other retailers’ best selling products too, so take that into account. It could be that you’ll need to make other arrangements but, again, ensure you weigh every decision you make against the fact that not only is this one day - a week at the most - but nothing is guaranteed.
The last thing you want for your website - other than the girl from The Ring learning how to get online - is for it to crash on perhaps the busiest shopping day of the year. Admittedly, you are unlikely to see the kind of spike in traffic that Amazon, Curries, Walmart, etc., will but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for increased traffic. If you have ever been hit by a DDoS attack, you will know how scary it is to have your website offline while it’s being remedied - now imagine that happening on potentially the biggest money-making day of the year.
Speaking of DDoS attacks, be aware that crime and fraud increase at times like this, so ensure that your security system is up to date, both to keep customers safe and to keep your own website secure.
We’ve written before about how to improve user experience on your website, and if you have been putting off revamping your site to make it more user-friendly, now is the time to do so. Users don’t need much of an excuse to stop using your website - it doesn’t load fast enough, navigation isn’t clear, it’s too cluttered, too many pop-ups and adverts… Don’t give them any reason to go to another retailer.
It also couldn’t hurt to have a read of our tips to getting repeat business and make sure you are doing everything you can to ensure that previous customers will be thinking of you when Black Friday rolls around. Can you entice your best customers with a deal additional to the sales you’ll already have on offer? Perhaps early access to the discounts?
No matter what you sell, there’s a good chance that Amazon is your biggest competitor. It’s a simple fact that they not only have a massive customer base, but they can afford to sell products for less than most other retailers. If you are selling a completely unique product that can’t be found anywhere else, then you can relax, but otherwise you need to think about why shoppers would choose you over bigger (cheaper) retailers.
At the end of the day, you’ll be relying mainly on customers who like to support small businesses, local entrepreneurs and the like. But you can still look into ways to make a product more desirable from your shop as opposed to the same product from another. Do you offer something extra? Do you donate a portion of proceeds to charity, maybe? Retailers like Amazon are cold corporations, so perhaps that is where you can stand out. Perhaps everything you sell has some kind of warm personal touch that makes any product from you more desirable.
Lastly, try taking advantage of Small Business Saturday. There are two versions of this. One was started by American Express to promote buying from small businesses and falls on 26 November. The other is UK-specific and falls on 3 December, so many shoppers will have already spent all their Black Friday money, but will have monies left to budget for more Christmas shopping, so don’t ignore it.