The Race to Black Friday Has Already Begun
When you think of Black Friday, it might evoke images of families camped out just hours after clearing their Thanksgiving dishes. Black Friday 2014 was the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history, with online sales growing 20.6 percent compared to 2013. Since Black Friday has become the crown jewel for retailers, preparation for it is starting earlier than ever.
Just like Christmas decorations pop up magically overnight after Halloween, there's no time to waste when it comes to Black Friday preparation. The good news is it isn’t too late for you to play a quick game of catch-up if you've yet to get started.
Back in March The Guardian published an article that declared Black Friday preparations should begin. If you think that’s a bit early, you aren’t alone. However, when you consider all the factors that go into a record-breaking Black Friday sale, you might head over to the drawing board as well. The world of retail has learned quite a bit since last Black Friday. Here are six things that retailers need to take into consideration to make this year's Black Friday a smash hit:
1. Get your website in order. Having the right amount of inventory on your website is crucial for a successful Black Friday. There’s no telling if Target is ever going to live down its Lilly Pulitzer website crash that left shoppers unable to check out for a full 15 minutes. There are many lessons that retailers can learn from Target's unfortunate experience, however. First, having a website that can handle many times more traffic than usual is a must. Second, make sure you can keep up with demand. While some might argue that limited supply built additional buzz around Target's Lilly Pulitzer launch, the reality is that Target lost quite a few sales by not being able to adequately meet demand.
2. Make the most out of the increased traffic. While your stock level is important, your pricing is equally as crucial. Pull shoppers in with great deals on top items, and make up the margin by slightly raising prices on add-ons. This pricing strategy is known as market basket pricing, and Amazon.com is particularly good at it. In the past, the online retailer has offered lower-than-low prices on televisions, but pricing for necessary cables were significantly higher than competitors’ like Wal-Mart. It’s a matter of knowing what shoppers want and being most competitive on those price points to attract them.
3. Be honest about delivery. Consumers want free shipping above all else, but it doesn’t always make sense for retailers to offer it to them, especially when someone buys a large or fragile item. A good rule of thumb is to give customers options. Maybe have tiers of shipping costs based on how much they spend. If it makes sense based on what you’re selling, offer free shipping for orders significantly above your average order value. This will be a good incentive to encourage shoppers to spend more.
4. Bulk up your email list NOW. Email marketing is not to be overlooked, as it contributes more than 7 percent of e-commerce sales, according to Shopify. If you want this Black Friday to be a blockbuster, you’re going to have to work to build up your email subscribers. Here are a few ways that online retailers can go about getting email addresses.
- Ask for email addresses on your checkout page.
- Invite your website visitors to sign up for your email program before they exit. Creating an exit campaign to capture email addresses is a great way to take advantage of your existing traffic.
- Use contests as an incentive for people to give you their email address. Partnering with a third party can be especially helpful because the other company involved will grant you access to a wider audience.
5. Be mobile ready. Mobile friendliness can make or break your e-commerce site. If shoppers have a less-than-optimal experience on your site, they probably aren’t going to make a purchase. In April, Google introduced a new search algorithm update that prioritizes mobile-friendly websites. The first step in winning a sale is showing up, so now is the time to make sure that your mobile site is secure, easy to use and visually appealing.
6. Look back to look forward. Data and analytics are your friend. When you look back at both the successes and failures from last year, you can get a better idea of what will work this year. If you ran out of "Frozen" dolls, for example, then you should make sure that you’re up to date on the latest trends in toys and order more of what consumers will want.
Black Friday is a huge opportunity for online retailers to create and maintain strong relationships with customers. The retailers that get it right are able to boost sales and profit significantly. These six tips are just a start to get retailers prepared for the biggest shopping day of the year. Implementing them now can be just what you need to improve your competitive positioning and sales potential before the big day arrives.
Angelica Valentine is the content marketing manager at Wiser, a price intelligence engine for brands and retailers.
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