This year has, without doubt, been incredibly challenging for many retailers but there’s still exciting events to plan and prepare for!
The beginning of the busy retail period is marked by one of the biggest shopping days of the year – Black Friday, closely followed by Cyber Monday. Taking place on the last Friday in November each year, Black Friday was introduced to the UK in 2010 by retail giant Amazon and has since become a key event in every retailer’s diary. The Black Friday boost can be huge for businesses and in 2019 Barclaycard reported that sales volumes from 25 November to 2 December were up 7.1% compared to 2018.
However, 2020 has been a very different year. With the future still uncertain and consumer behaviour rapidly evolving, only the most agile and savvy retailers will be able to really capitalise on this year’s Black Friday weekend boom.
Businesses must take a digital-led approach
With more than 11,000 stores closing in the first half of 2020 –double the amount compared to the same period last year – and around 73% of UK consumers intending to purchase their Christmas shopping online, it’s clear that a digital-led approach will be the key to post-Covid recovery.
In the same figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), it was reported that online retail sales in September had surged more than 46% higher than in February – before coronavirus restrictions were implemented – a trend that is likely to continue as cases rise across the UK.
Whilst this is positive news for e-commerce businesses, according to a study by Growth Intelligence, it has meant that more than 85,000 businesses in the UK have launched online stores or joined online marketplaces between March and July this year – meaning that this year’s Black Friday weekend sales will be more competitive than ever before.
There’s no doubt this year will look very different – we don’t expect to see people fighting for televisions in high street stores as we have in previous years. 2020 will be the year that Black Friday and Cyber Monday roll into one big online shopping weekend, with retailers all competing for attention and a slice of the action.
Preparing for a Black Friday boost
Although things may remain uncertain for retailers, what is clear is that if businesses want to take advantage of Black Friday, then they need to start preparing now. Black Friday isn’t just your standard sale event, so it’s important to have a clear strategy and approach to make the most of this key event.
When planning, there are a number of key things you must consider. These include;
With such a competitive market, ensuring you have sufficient stock is vital. However, you also don’t want to oversupply, especially during this turbulent period, and therefore it’s good practice to review previous sales periods, as well as industry trends to make sure you’re investing in the right type and quantity of products. Also, if you’re a retailer that offers a variation of products, consider the sectors that have seen the biggest growth this year.
Resource of staff
Since the UK went into lockdown in March, many businesses have been operating with reduced workforces but with the Black Friday weekend likely to induce a sudden spike in sales, your business needs to be in a position to cope with this. From dealing with website issues to customer service queries and even packing orders, you’ll need an experienced team available, so carefully consider what this may look like.
Arguably this is the most important step to consider, especially in the current market where online will be the primary route to sales. With huge amounts of competition, customer experience will be what sets your business apart from others. Black Friday presents a fantastic opportunity to turn new shoppers into loyal customers, but the key to achieving this is ensuring they have a positive experience.
This means reviewing your website’s look and feel as well as its capabilities; from functionality to site speed, search ability and the checkout process – you need to carefully consider all the steps a customer would take.
Pricing and delivery
There are a number of different approaches your business could take when it comes to pricing, from offering a discount code to reducing the cost of individual products. However, the key will be to consider competitors’ strategies and pricings and be in a position where you are able to adapt your approach if necessary.
On top of this, delivery costs and timings play a pivotal role in purchase decisions and consumers tend to favour businesses that offer the most competitive delivery price. Again, review competitors’ approaches, and make sure you are offering the best service you can without squeezing your margins too hard.
Marketing is an important step that shouldn’t be forgotten. If customers don’t hear about your amazing offers, then all your planning could be a waste of time. It’s important to prepare your advertising campaigns in advance and be ready to react to any announcement’s competitors may make. To have the greatest impact, campaigns should incorporate a range of tactics including; social media, direct marketing, SEO, PPC, website content and importantly, it should all tie into any website design or updates you are planning.
If you need a cash injection to help your e-commerce business prepare for Black Friday and into the festive period then a Capify business loan might be the right step for you. Applying for a small business loan is easy and you could be pre-approved in minutes, if you want to find out more, get in touch today.