A Covid Black Friday

A Covid Black Friday – Are you prepared?

2020 has been a hell of a year for anyone, at this stage it seems no matter the country you’re in your daily life has been effected by the COVID-19 Pandemic. With only New Zealand and North Korea claiming to have complete control over their cases and chance of infection that still believes the rest of the world is trying to adapt.

When people talk about Black Friday you’ll likely picture two things 1) Cut Price Deals  2) People fighting over cut price deals. Most notably you’ll remember the images that come out of America every year and the UK more recently of people queuing up amass at shops before opening and then stampeding through to get a brand-less TV for £200 off the asking price.

One of the two of these things isn’t going to work in 2020, 2021 and perhaps for even longer.

Social distancing and Black Friday simply don’t mix – and even if government guidelines were so relaxed by November as to remove them then you’d still have to have the confidence from the shopper themselves. Are cut price deals worth the risk and catching and spreading the virus – or worse giving it to someone you love who is more vulnerable like your parents or grandparents.

Digital Black Friday

For the last few years Black Friday has been switching in the UK to being more of an online affair. Amazon famously spends two weeks with different sales covering Black Friday and Cyber Monday as do many of the other electronic stores and supermarkets like Curry’s/Pc World, Argos and Asda.

Many customers however prefer to get their ‘deal’ in person. As with all sales there is only ever a limited number of discounted items and they’re far easier to grab in a store (or so people think) then up against the million or so refreshing the page on Amazon.

With many high-street businesses unlikely to offer in-store Black Friday events (and I imagine they’re actually likely to close the physical store instead on the day), that mixed with those who wouldn’t want to go into a busy store already will push an unprecedented number of potential buyers online and looking for the best possible deal.

So why should the big stores have the monopoly?

If you’re selling B2B and you have enough of a profit margin to support a Black-Friday like sale then don’t let the Black Friday and Cyber event pass you without a chance.

UK shoppers spent an estimated £2.5 billion on Black Friday in 2019 (including the weekend) up some 3.5% from 2018. When Black Friday 2020 is here and customers have their wallets out.

Make sure you have a Black Friday Strategy for the sales, marketing and strategy which means.

  1. Make sure your online store is ready
  2. Make sure your customers know you’re going to have deals.
  3. Should you become a Viral Black Friday deal then make sure you can deliver on the products you sell (Make sure your logistics are up to scratch and your stock levels accurate).

Making sure your online store is ready.

This is the one most often overlooked. Can your website handle the best/worst case scenario that is a mass amount of traffic hitting it at once.

Better yet start at the beginning – can your website handle one person being able to easily transverse through your website and make a purchase.

If your website has a poor conversion rate normally, that is that despite lots of traffic and marketing that people aren’t actually buying from you, worse you see people dropping out of your checkout funnel then you are not ready for a sale, let alone trying to get your share of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales.

So spend some time to work out the weaknesses of your website and get them sorted.

  1. Review Google Analytics
  2. Ask a friend to to use the site who has never been on it before, give them a set task and watch the results (don’t interfere)
  3. Test your website on different browsers and devices.
  4. If your website feels slow now, remember it isn’t going to improve if you suddenly have 100, or 1000 people suddenly trying to buy your Black Friday special.

All of this can be rather overwhelming, especially if like many businesses your website is a modern necessity that you have but don’t truly understand – many business owners are about the product or service they sell and don’t connect with their own website – Don’t worry if this is you, you’re not alone and there are plenty of agencies and people out there whose product/service is to help you get the most from your website.

Unsurprisingly, I’m one of those people – Get in touch and let’s give your website and plan for Black Friday an audit and health check.

Make sure your customers know you’re having a sale.

In the past I’ve dealt with many different businesses who tell me they don’t bother with Black Friday because their customers aren’t buying anything anyway. I ask them what they did for Black Friday and they tell me they discounted select items on their website, and threw up a big homepage banner on the day.

To me this is the minimum. Black Friday is all about the hype and if you don’t get on board with that hype then your customers are going to be drawn elsewhere to sit in a virtual queue for a different half priced toaster.

This means in the weeks leading up to Black Friday/Cyber Monday you’re going to need to talk about your future sale, mystery discounts and big bargains to be had. You’ll need to have banners around your website, you’ll need to send out email campaigns and post out social media messages – Not 1 day before but for all of November.

Let them know that at 9am on Black Friday that your sale starts with up to half price on popular products and free delivery and as long as what your offering is the real deal then I guarantee you your website is likely to be crashing from the level of traffic it’s getting come Black Friday.

Come the day,  If you’ve got a lot of stock of a product and it’s in your Black Friday sale – AND the price you are selling it for a competitive deal then either post it yourself or get a customer to post it on deal finder websites such as ‘HotUkDeals’. The members of such communities are all about the bargain if they need it or not and it’s a great way to get sales and to get new customers – after all if you sell something to someone once then you can hopefully expect them to return in the future – better yet you can actively market to them.

If you need some help putting together a plan and marketing strategy for Black Friday. Perhaps you’d like some help putting together some art work, graphics or an email marketing campaign to your customers. Reach out and lets talk about how I can help make this your best Black Friday and take advantage of the increased COVID-19 traffic.

Make sure you are ready to deliver on your deals

You’ve managed to draw visitors to your website, You’ve managed to tease and convince them to buy your amazing deal and your website has held up to the pressure of being the discount supplier.

This next stage can make or break your company’s reputation.

  1. Have enough stock to deliver on everything sold
  2. Be able to dispatch all of those products in good time (and with a trusted courier)
  3. Handle all of the many customer service enquiries (such as change of address, cancelled orders, additional items, problematic delivery, items damaged in transit).
  4. Prepare to handle returns – Damaged items, unwanted orders. You’ll get more sales but you’ll have to handle the percentage of returns and refunds that comes with it.

Break any of these and you can kiss goodbye to any 5 star rating you may have had with a third-party reviewer. You will be inundated with bad reviews, phone calls and a reputation that will follow you with future sales and for many months with existing customers… if they even bother to use you again.

Make sure you plan in advance.

If you have a warehouse then make sure your Black Friday stock is already separated and ready to ship. Make sure you only list about 80-90 of your available Black Friday stock online and allow for website errors, accidental orders, and breakages to eat that final 10% You’ll also find its a lot easier to deal with customer enquiries where they tried to get something and couldn’t if you still have some in stock – it makes for a great customer experience when you as the company come to their rescue.

Make sure you’ve got enough boxes, packing slips and team ready to check orders and start the packing process. The best case scenario for the most sales and you won’t be able to keep up with the number of orders but what you don’t want to do is to panic – shut off the website and stop taking business for three days after Black Friday just so you can catch-up with the orders again. If you think that you’ll have trouble keeping up then set the expectations of customers – instead of free next day delivery offer free 3-5 day delivery and then still try to ship parcels as quickly as possible.

Talking of shipping – Remember that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a busy time for couriers as well, they’ll be have a spike of millions more than they normally would and with a COVID-19 Black Friday – You can expect this figure to be even higher. Book in advance when your pick-up is going to be, or if you’re a small provider how you’ll get your parcels to the local send point. Potentially talk to a number of couriers and make sure you’ve got a good plan A and plan B to ship your sales. Remember until it lands in your customers hands whatever happens to it is your fault as a supplier, very few customers will be happy with

Finally…Don’t go at it alone.

Having a successful Black Friday is stressful, you’ll need the support of your entire team so make sure you’re transparent with them over what the plan is. They’ll be looking to you to be calm and have a plan and if you want to do well during a Black Friday sale and you have the dream product and discount then going in half assed can either end in disaster or you’ll end up with only a small portion of the sales you could have.

It can be scary to know where to start with a Black Friday/Cyber Monday plan. Worrying about your website, your marketing and how you deliver – remember that you’re not alone, be it your team or reaching out to us to make sure you do something. We can help with everything from site design and development, to marketing, to technical support and general strategy – get in contact, let’s have a chat and see if we can help.


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