A Black Friday checklist for small businesses selling online
South African shoppers are expected to open their wallets for Black Friday (29 November), perhaps even outspending the R3 billion in card transactions they racked up on Black Friday 2018. Despite the marketing noise from the big retail brands, small businesses can also ride the wave of Black Friday by showcasing their brand, products and promotions online.
Here are some ways to get ready:
1. Ensure your website is ship-shape: If you will be doing some or all of your Black Friday marketing and sales through your website, you’ll want it to look its best. Some things to consider:
- Will it be easy for people to find your key offers on your website?
- Is it optimised for mobile devices?
- Do you have SSL security certificates to further protect your website and for customer peace of mind?
- Can customers easily find your contact details?
2. Learn from last year: If you ran Black Friday promotions last year, evaluate which items sold well, which didn’t, which were profitable for you and which weren’t. If you did not do Black Friday last year, do some Internet research to find out what customers in your industry did to get a feel for the market.
3. Monitor the customer pulse on social media: Social media monitoring can be a great way to find out what customers are interested in and what they’re looking forward to for this coming Black Friday and Christmas shopping seasons.
4. Plan your specials: You can use your market research and your evaluation of your performance last year to plan the specials and promotions you plan to offer this year. This takes careful thought and planning, as there is stiff competition in the market.
5. Crank up the hype machine: The customer journey for Black Friday begins weeks in advance of the big day – many consumers have, for example, saved for months for a big-ticket purchase like a television. You can start teasing your offers a couple of weeks in advance to help capture the interest of consumers who are starting to research the items they want to buy.
6. Prepare your campaigns: If you haven’t already done so, start putting together the creative and copy for your email promotions for engagement with your customers, your social media posts, your search ads and your website Black Friday splashes. You can try experimenting with different messages and creative to see which get the best responses.
7. Get the team ready: Make sure that you have the sales and fulfilment staff on hand ready to service demand, especially if you expect to be far busier on Black Friday than on the average day. Will you need to hire some temps? Have you ensured that enough workers will be on hand to process orders or answer phones?
8. What’s your plan B? On a busy day like Black Friday, you’ll want to have contingency plans in case something unexpected happens. Do you have a plan if the stock of your star product doesn’t arrive on time? And is there an alternative provider to fall back on if your usual courier can’t meet demand?
9. Carry the momentum through to Christmas and beyond: While it’s great to ship a lot of product and rack up some revenue on a big day like Black Friday, you could also use it as an opportunity to build momentum for the months to come. Think about using promoting discount vouchers or free delivery offers for future orders to help get people to return to your website. And if appropriate, follow up via email to find out how they’re enjoying their Black Friday purchase.
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