By now, you’re probably well aware that Black Friday is approaching with giant leaps.
For those of you that still haven’t jumped on this trend: Let me explain.
Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving in the US (yes, it’s another one of those American crazes that we adopted), taking place on the fourth Friday of November. It started out as the (un)official marking of the first day of the holiday sales but quickly grew to become a thing of its own.
During the last few years, merchants have started to extend the Black Friday Sales throughout the whole week.
In other words: It is one of the top weeks a year for your revenue.
So are you ready for a massive increase in traffic, visitors, and transactions?
Well, with this article you will be!
Here is our checklist with a few tips on what you should have in place before opening your (virtual) doors this crazy week.
#1: Adjust your marketing efforts
First and foremost - you need to be smart about your advertisement. Regardless of the size of your advertising budget, you need to be prepared for a few changes during this time:
Because: It will be more expensive, and you will have more competition.
You should, therefore, choose between these two strategies:
1. Turn up your ad budget (to even be visible during this time.
2. Turn your ads off completely.
There’s no point in being in between.
You also need to be more disruptive than before in order to be seen or heard through all the noise.
The upside is, though, that more people are actively searching for good offers, and thus they tend to be more receptive to advertising.
If you’re a newly started business, or you for some reason chose option number two above, don’t worry. There are several ways to advertise without using a lot of money. For example, a good and cost-effective way is to make the best of your low-cost channels and the information you have.
Like, say, communicate Black Friday-offers to your customers through SMS or e-mail.
You could also make a Facebook-event, where you communicate all the cool stuff your store will be offering on Black Friday.
As for visitors on your page: To ensure that they don’t get lost on their way to the next site (because they will go through a LOT of pages to find the best offers), set up some retargeting ads to remind them where they need to go.
So when it comes to your marketing activities, make sure that you:
Decide whether to “go big or go home”
Use low-cost channels
#2: Take advantage of the free advertisement!
Is it like music in your ears right?
Well, this is actually the sweet irony of Black Friday advertising.
As it turns out, advertising is not only more expensive - it is also offered for free.
Confusing, I know.
But it makes total sense.
Many websites, magazines, newspapers and so on actually benefit from collecting all the best Black Friday-offers as a valuable service for their readers.
Meaning: Many of those you’d normally pay a sweet pile lot of money to advertise for you, is practically begging for permission to mention your company along with a link to where they can find it.
It’s a classical win-win situation really.
Make sure you communicate your Black Friday offers wide and broad to all relevant websites you can find. The chances are pretty high that they will present it to their readers - free of charge for you.
There are several sites that do this. For example, you could try reaching out to various online newspapers, magazines, forums and online communities.
A good way to proceed would be to:
Make a list of the most relevant media for your industry/niche/target group
Reach out - and follow up
If you are using links: Use dedicated UTM codes to track where most of the traffic came from for future reference.
#3: Staff and prep!
Now we’re at one of the most crucial areas: Your staff.
The earlier you start planning out the human logistics of this day, the better.
If your employees don’t work regular hours, consider offering some treat for them to take a shift on this particular day.
You could offer taking them all out to dinner, give them a special Black Friday discount to use for themselves, or if your resources are limited - give them precedence for a certain shift or vacation.
When you have enough people in place, you need to make sure your team is prepped and ready for action. Make sure they know what they’re up against.
Have customized routines in place for how to handle different scenarios.
Start by mapping out all the major stations of your store: Cash register, dressing rooms, storage, shop floor, entrance and so on.
Then, staff up according to what you think you might need for each station...
… and then take in a few more.
This is no ordinary day, and you’ll find that smaller tasks can suddenly be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
So make sure:
Everyone has a very dedicated role and knows what to do
You have a clear plan for when everyone is taking breaks for reloading and food (you need the energy!)
Find someone who can be standby during the most critical hours, so that you know whom to call in case you need some extra help
Prepare (perhaps together with some of your most trusted employees) an action plan with how the routines will work for this specific period, and map out what might be the biggest obstacles and how you will solve them.
As far as staff goes, you luckily have a few “robots” to help you out.
Still though. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test your system’s ability to handle the pressure.
There are multiple tools you can use to test your websites, such as Loadimpact.com or GTmetrix.com.
As far as your payment gateway goes, there are a few concrete actions you can do in order to lighten the load on both your own and your supplier's system:
Turn off instant callbacks
Turn off instant capture
Postpone any subscriptions to be deducted a few days
Nevertheless, one of the most critical areas during times with many transactions will actually be the packing and shipping part. This is a source of great delay and frustration for those unprepared.
But that’s not you, right?
Items are to be quickly located, packed and shipped. All in a blink of an eye, preferably.
Be realistic about your capacity, and if need be, hire someone to help you out. If you’re lucky, you might even get some of your friends or family to help you pack and ship the items for a day or so.
How you solve this, is really up to you. Just don’t let your shipping be the bottleneck.
When you “staff up”, make sure you have enough resources handling the important stations:
#4: Reward early shoppers
In movies and TV-series, we always see people standing in these long, long lines to be the first to acquire a product or service, simply because “the first X visitors will get X”.
Now, this is where we really have something to learn from the Americans.
Ideally, what you want is to:
Maximize and divide the traffic so that it matches your resources
Avoid last-minute-overloads causing your systems to crash
Get a flying start with people knocking down your doors
So what better way, than to give an incentive to early shoppers - other than the risk of something selling out?
Offer a special discount, additional item, price or even just food or snacks as an early bird-reward.
Maybe the first 50 customers will be competing for a special price, or receive a goodie bag upon arrival?
Why not prepare a luxury mingle-breakfast with smoothies, coffee or similar – as a mini event?
Perhaps even set up a “meet and greet” with the founder or brand ambassador?
The sky’s the limit here, really.
By doing one or more of these lovely gestures, you will not only be able to check the boxes above - you will actually be offering your customers a great experience.
Another way to minimize the risk of a last-minute crash is to join in on the popular tendency of extending the offer to last throughout the week instead of just one day.
#5: Customize your store arrangement
Regardless of what type of store you have, you need to make sure it’s all set for a massive increase in traffic.
Adjusting your store arrangement for a high increase in traffic, will in many cases mean that you might need to lower your visual requirements just a little bit – and just as a rare exception.
On this day, functionality trumps esthetics.
Make sure all promotional items are swift and easy to find. Perhaps this can be done by moving the store interior around, in order to create more space, and make room for larger quantities than normal on the shelves.
You need to know how you can arrange your store to best suit your needs.
When you’ve decided on a layout, ask yourself this:
Is the path intuitive?
Are the promoted items easy to find?
The digital equivalence to your store arrangement is, of course, the structure and look of your website.
An example: Your navigation menus are critical for the user-friendliness on your site. Go through your menu items, clean up where it’s needed and ask yourself this:
Is the path intuitive?
Are the promoted items easy to find?
You could also benefit from our article on how to clean your website.
#6: Establish a safe environment
Sadly, the human race is not always as civilized as we like to think we are.
Especially when we get really excited by crazy discounts.
And thus, the feeling of scarcity and urgency can sometimes make us act in a strangely barbaric way.
Hire or increase the security in and around your store. Not only to ensure your customers have a safe shopping experience but also to prevent shoplifting on this busy day.
Since 2006, there has been registered as many as 105 injuries caused by Black Friday shopping!
Make sure you are prepared for anything - and that your store stays out of these types of statistics.
Create a safe shopping experience for your customers by keeping your platform updated, limiting error messages and having a payment provider that you know is PCI compliant.
Make sure you’ve made it hard for hackers to access your site, precious information, and your customers' money.
You can read more about how to keep your online store safe from hacking and fraud here.
Have a plan on how to handle worst-case scenarios
Test and maintain security
Hire external help if needed
#7: Make sure you have the right payment solution
Ah so here it comes, right?
Don’t worry. This is not a sales pitch.
But you need to be aware that your checkout flow is one of the most crucial parts of the customer journey.
Make sure the payment experience is fast and simple, and you will not only sell more (and faster) – you will also give your customers a better shopping experience.
Imagine that long, long line of impatient customers. Now, imagine your terminal is slow. Really slow. A customer wants to pay with contactless. Another one has a Mastercard. You need help.
Who you gonna call?
Just kidding. But these are all factors that would be real neat’o in times of high traffic, and you do need to know who to call in case of emergency - with your terminal, with your payments, with your cash register and so on.
Is your terminal updated and fast?
Does it accept all the common credit cards?
Can you accept contactless payments?
Is it prepared for mobile wallets or Apple pay?
Do you know who to call for what?
You should also consider whether you need to look into a short-term rental for an extra terminal - just for a few weeks.
On the online side, the checkout flow is even more crucial.
You really don’t want your customers abandoning their cart just because you don’t offer their preferred payment method, or because the process is cumbersome.
Because they probably will.
Go through your checkout and ask yourself this:
Is it simple and does it require minimal effort?
Does it offer the most preferred payment methods (credit cards, mobile wallets, invoice?)
Is it fast and responsive?
Does it have the “save card” functionality?
If you want some more in-depth knowledge on how you can reduce shopping cart abandonment, you'd want to read this article.
Now I hope you have some insights and pointers to help you get ready for a massive increase in sales, traffic and good times.
Still feeling a bit insecure?
Don’t worry. You‘re not alone.
Here are some other relevant articles that can help you succeed with your Black Friday-sales - both instore and online.
So now, we can only wish you the best of luck with your Black Friday sales!
Should you have any questions, feedback or be in need of advice around your payment solution - don’t hesitate to reach out!