Black Friday is essentially the starting pistol for the Christmas shopping season and to get the most from this sales opportunity, you’ll need to start preparing your online retail or e-commerce business for Black Friday as soon as possible.

Black Friday offers busy shoppers heavily discounted sales lines to encourage a ‘spending frenzy’ extending over the weekend and into Cyber Monday - which concentrates purely on online sales. According to Talk Talk Business, it’s likely that UK customers will spend around £5 billion this Black Friday and Cyber Monday!

How can I make the most of the hype surrounding Black Friday to benefit my online business?

  • Firstly, you’ll want plenty of social media activity across all your channels to create awareness, anticipation and drive traffic to your online store
  • Select which products to discount – consider where you have overstocks, a bigger profit margin, quick win and big-ticket items for example
  • Could you offer a discount ‘across the store’ or at set spending levels if you want to avoid targeting specific products?
  • Offer free shipping for Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday orders as an alternative
  • Decide if you will have a dedicated Black Friday ‘shop’ on your website or just specific products throughout the store. The more changes needed to your website, the longer you’ll need to prepare, build and test, so time is of the essence here
  • Create a teaser email campaign to target existing customers with Black Friday special offers.

How can I make sure my website is capable of handling the extra demand on Black Friday?

Whether or not you actually offer Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals, it’s likely your online business will see increased traffic as shoppers spend considerable time online searching and shopping in the run-up to Black Friday right through to mid-December.

  • Make sure your site is mobile friendly and responsive. If not, you’ll be missing out on valuable potential sales
  • Check links are working correctly and any new products or discounts are appearing as you’d expect
  • Make sure your online payment processing is tested and robust enough to handle any uplift in sales processing
  • It might be prudent to extend your fulfilment and delivery times if you’re expecting a significant increase in sales. Make it clear in your delivery section that extra time may be needed – and keep in mind the proposed Royal Mail strikes if you dispatch via post rather than a courier service or other carrier. Overestimate delivery times and customers will be delighted when you deliver ahead of schedule.

How much extra stock should I consider holding for Black Friday?

A lot depends on how much effort you’ve put into creating and promoting Black Friday deals as to how much traction you’ll get. If you expect 25%, 50% or 75% increase in orders, you should ensure stock levels match those expectations unless you can order from your suppliers with pretty rapid lead times.

Should I increase my workforce to cover this busy period?

If you run a customer helpline or online chat to assist customers trying to place orders or answer product queries, you may want to consider bringing in additional staff to man these services.

If you are a small team you could easily be swamped with orders you’re unable to fulfil, even with an extended delivery schedule, so it may be worth hiring in some temporary staff to help you maintain timely dispatch. Slow delivery, sloppy packing or missing items will turn your potential brand ambassadors into unhappy customers, so a few extra pairs of hands could be well worth it in both the long and short term.

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About the author

Cheryl Dobson

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Having worked in the advertising, Customer Service and Serviced Office sectors I am passionate about ensuring high standards are met. Currently working for Smarttplay an exciting technology company developing software to help optimise marketing strategies.


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