Love it or hate it, Black Friday is looming large once again, with the date this year falling on 23 November 2018.
So as a business owner you need to decide whether you’re going to take up the Black Friday challenge or boycott it altogether.
Among the big-name boycottees in 2017 were IKEA, Primark and Asda, who had evidently learned their lesson after the chaos of 2014. Who can forget the images of shoppers clambering over each other in a desperate rush to get knock-down price TVs?
Fashion brand Christopher Raeburn went even further than that by running a Snow Leopard Workshop to highlight its distaste at the mass-consumerism of Black Friday.
There are also activist movements to encourage not only retailers, but also shoppers, to boycott Black Friday and they’re gaining notable traction.
Indeed, taking a stance like Christopher Raeburn can have a significant positive impact on your brand perception and customer loyalty. Conversely, the opposite is true of Black Friday where it’s all about the price, so service and company ethos rarely get a look in.
But the big question is, can you afford not to join in?
According to IMRG, last year’s Black Friday sales were up 11.7% on 2016, with a total of £1.39bn being spent. Indeed, online sales have increased year on year since Amazon first introduced the UK to the concept back in 2010 (though it passed relatively unnoticed).
If your competition are discounting, can you afford not to follow suit and risk losing out on sales (albeit at a lower margin)?
If you decide to go for Black Friday, you’ve got to go all in. Otherwise, it’ll be a waste of time, money and effort.
Here are some considerations to help you succeed:
- Ensure your pricing is competitive
This obviously goes without saying, but is easier said than done. Until the day of the sale (which in recent years has actually begun a few days before Black Friday for some retailers), you’ll have no real indicator of how low the competition are willing to go.
You’ll need to decide a pricing strategy that is low enough to attract attention, solid enough to protect your margin, but flexible enough to allow for mid-sale movement. Coupled with that are the staffing considerations of competitor price analyses and order fulfilment.
- Devise a marketing strategy
It’s all very well having the best price around, but your customers still need to be able to find it. Create interest in the weeks and days before the sale by distributing teaser email and social media campaigns. But be careful not to give too much of the game away, or your competition will be all over it.
- Ensure your website can cope
Poor website performance can be the difference between securing and losing a sale. As digital marketing guru Neil Patel explains, if your webpage doesn’t load within 4 seconds you’ll have lost up to 25% of your customers. This increases to over 30% for a 10-second load time.
There’s also nothing more frustrating than being half-way through a purchase to have the whole site crash around you, not knowing if your money’s been taken or not. For a Black Friday shopper, where speed is the key to a good deal, this is even more annoying.
So if you’re planning to offer Black Friday deals via your own platform, make sure that your servers will be able to cope with the increased demand.
- Promote your deals on marketplaces
One way of getting around the server capacity issue is to let someone else deal with it. Amazon accounted for an incredible 33.5% of UK ecommerce spend in 2017(1) and is the de facto place for a deals-savvy shopper to head on Black Friday.
So by offering your deals via Amazon or other marketplaces you can not only reach a greater audience, but also minimise your own overheads.
- Ensure your inventory is adequate
Having the right amount of stock is a tricky one to get right. You don’t want to have excess stock sitting around unsold, but at the same time, having too little stock means that you won’t be able to take the most advantage of Black Friday.
Bulk buying from suppliers can reduce your supply chain costs, but you do need to be confident in your ability to sell it. Otherwise storage costs will start to rack up.
One way around this is to negotiate a drop ship agreement with your suppliers, so that you order more from them as the orders come in. To make this succeed though, you’ll need a robust fulfilment process, as shoppers won’t want to hang around too long for their orders to be delivered. If your estimated delivery time is longer than your competitors, then the sale could be gone.
- Ensure you can cope with fulfilling orders
As with Christmas and any other sales, Black Friday is a peak that needs to be properly managed so as not to damage your brand. It’s all very well getting a vast increase in sales, but you need to be able to pack and ship them quickly enough to avoid cancellations.
So ensure that your staffing and order fulfilment infrastructure are appropriate for the amount of sales you’re forecasting.
How Virtual Logistics can help
If all that sounds a bit daunting, Virtual Logistics are here to help. Our order fulfilment process is so simple that, even if you’re not currently a customer, we could have you live within 24 hours. That still gives plenty of time for you to scale up ready for Black Friday.
In addition, our marketplace experience can help you maximise your sales via Amazon and others. Contact us today to find out more.