How to prepare your retail business for Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are becoming two of the most important shopping days in any retailer's calendar, and two days you need to be prepared for.

According to research by PWC  - some retailers have resisted discounting on Black Friday for fear that it might jeopordise their full price Christmas shopping purchases that are traditionally made in early December, however 74% of high street stores and 79% of online retailers offered some kind of sale or promotion over the 2018 Black Friday weekend.

And interestingly of those surveyed almost two thirds of men and over three quarters of under 25s plan use Black Friday to just buy something for themselves!

So what can retail businesses do, to prepare for the challenges of Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Bridge the gap between your retail shop and online store

Customers are really taking advantage of the multi-channel shopping experience, whether it's for researching deals or seeking out inspirations for gifts, if you have a bricks-and-mortar shop, as well as an ecommerce website, you can really take advantage and make it work for you.

According to National Retail Federation - multichannel shopping - ecommerce and in-store - was the preference of most consumers across the Black Friday weekend, with 54% using this method.

Multi-channel retailing should be seamless, from online to in-store and back again, giving the customer an easy shopping experience that allows them to purchase products in the way that suits them, so retailers must endeavour to create a smooth experience between both.

For instance; buy online, pick up in-store or click and collect as it's also known as, can provide convenience and speed, can avoid shipping fees, and allows the consumer to pick up when it's convenient to them. Other multi-channel retailing benefits for the customer include:-

Gift vouchers redeemable in-store and online
Buy online, return in store
In-store email receipt
Rewards and loyalty programs redeemable in-store and online

Identify your promotions

Black Friday and Cyber Monday attract shoppers due to the excellent deals they can get on a range of items. These savings are often then used on other purchases, such as impulse buys, they otherwise, might not have bought.

Retailers need to think strategically about what products to promote and the types of deals to have, because as a small business, there's only so much money to discount from items without it eating into your bottom line. It's a fine balance to offer promotions and discounts to the customer so they can save money, but you can still make money.

Be creative with your deals such as bundling certain products together or consider a loss-leader with the idea that the consumer will add other items into their basket, pushing up their basket total. Other ideas maybe deals on special-run or limited-time products you may have, or tying your discounts into local causes and of course consider discounting your old inventory.

And not forgetting to list your chosen products on marketplaces like Amazon, eg Amazon has a 25% marketshare of all Black Friday transactions in 2018, so it can be advantageous to have your products there as well.

Getting the word out

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are well known for their discounts, but you still need to promote your specific deals in order to attract the attention of the widest pool of customers possible. This means you're going to need a multi-channel marketing solution that appeals to your potential customers.

Use each channel you have to its full potential - run email marketing campaigns, promotions on your social media accounts, even consider a direct mail initiative. Remember that despite the digital age we live in, offline marketing methods are still highly effective.

Also, bear in mind that businesses are beginning their Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions earlier and earlier every year. Black Friday is November 29th this year, so it's an idea to start promoting now.

Handling the logistics

Remember that all your sales need to be processed and fulfilled as efficiently as possible before you can make a profit. Invest in enough stock to fulfil the kind of demand you can reasonably expect to experience, and be sure you have the materials required to ship packages rapidly. Customers will expect their goods to be paid for, shipped, and delivered in a timely manner.

Also ensure your website is speedy and can handle the potential increase of traffic for this Black Friday weekend. Any investment you make in stock and your ability to handle volume sales through your eCommerce platform is going to stand you in good stead.

Think beyond Black Friday

By ensuring your staff deliver a stellar customer service, making the in-store experience great, as well as merging seamlessly, your in-store with your online ecommerce experience, retailers can expect to reap the rewards in the days and weeks ahead. 

Loyalty programmes will help turn those first-time shoppers into loyal customers and by continuing with regular email marketing and social media posts shows your customers you are providing a service that customers want both in-store and online.

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