How to Prepare Your Business to Win Big on Black Friday The Thanksgiving shopping experience is all about maximizing profit by selling as many discounted items as possible.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
There's no shopping day quite like Black Friday. Whether you participate online or battle your way through hoards of determined shoppers, Black Friday can be a stressful time for retailers looking to make money.
But just like how shoppers plan out their mall trips to maximize their time while getting everything they need, stores need to ensure they are equally prepared for a massive influx of shoppers. A little digital preparation can help you stay ahead of your shoppers while you compete with some of your larger competitors. As you build out your Black Friday planning list, make sure to include some gentle research on your customers and their spending patterns, as well as what other businesses like yourself are doing for their marketing efforts.
It's estimated that one in three Americans plan to shop on Black Friday and that number is expected to rise as stores take advantage of online marketing and add more days for consumers to shop. Minimize your stress and any headache by preparing and putting your business in the best position to succeed.
Related: The Best Black Friday Deals of 2016
1. Research and engage with your customers.
Like any other store sale, it's important to research your customers and identify marketing tactics to research your target audience. If you have an email list full of loyal customers, give your customers a heads up and let them know of the sales that are coming up. Or you can build hype around Black Friday by offering special rewards and loyal customer discounts for certain items. You can also utilize free tools like social media to encourage shoppers to come to your stores or hosting giveaways prior to Black Friday.
"The success of a Black Friday promotion is no longer determined by in-store deals, nor is it determined solely by sales on Black Friday itself," says Steve Cuffari, Senior Content Marketing Manager from CouponBox.com. "Most retailers now begin their promotions and sales well in advance of Black Friday and continue them long after. For example, big players like Best Buy and Bed, Bath and Beyond create promotions branded as Pre-Black Friday sales, Sneak Peeks and Black Friday Previews."
2. Organize all of your sales.
While the goal of Black Friday may be to sell all of your products, you also want to make sure you keep track of all of your inventory. The holiday season is crazy hectic; it's important to stay organized so you know exactly what you have in your stores at all times. When you organize your products in a spreadsheet format, you can identify which products you want to put on sale and also determine how much of a sale you can afford to discount your items.
With an organized spreadsheet, you avoid mispricing items on-the-fly as customers roll into your stores, and it also helps you create a contingency plan if you need to order additional products prior to the sale. The last thing you want is to face a horde of angry shoppers looking for a popular item that sold out in the first minutes of Black Friday.
3. Put your stores to the test.
If this is your first time preparing for Black Friday, you may want to test your website and store to ensure you can handle increased traffic. One of the worst things that could happen to your store on Black Friday is your website crashing due to the surge in traffic, which could result in lower sales and increased customer frustration.
You also want to test your physical storefront to make sure your employees are ready to deal with waves of customers. Trina CEO of Primal Life Organics states. "We are using Shopify, you won't have to worry about this. Thousands of high-volume Shopify merchants regularly experience huge traffic surges, including the infamous Shark Tank effect, without any interruptions."
Now is also the time to clean up your stores; place items within reach and remove any items that may block the pathway for shoppers running throughout your storefront. Prior to Black Friday, communicate with any vendors and suppliers to ensure they can also keep up with the increased demands that come with the holidays.
4. Optimize your email chain.
In 2014, the average cart abandonment rate for shoppers on Black Friday was a whopping 65% and that rate fluctuates depending on what platforms your customers are doing their shopping. To prevent such a high abandonment rate, create abandoned cart emails to remind customers of the items they have not yet purchased. You should also make sure your website is mobile and tablet friendly.
A 2015 IBM study found smartphones accounted for 44% of all online traffic on Black Friday and we should expect that number to grow as the number of customers with smartphones also increases. Optimize your website so it is fully functional and responsive on mobile devices. Talk to your web designer and gain feedback from customers to identify what works and what needs to be improved before the holiday shopping starts. With a strong mobile presence, you ensure your customers can access your store no matter where they may be in the United States.