Friday, 29th November will mark the return of Black Friday, the shopping mega-event that sees thousands of consumers in the US, UK and Ireland go online and in-store in the hope of getting a jump on their Christmas shopping, or grabbing some unbeatable value deals for themselves. Three days later, on December 2nd, shoppers will log on once again for Cyber Monday, the follow-up day of online sales, creating a shopping holiday event referred to as BFCM (Black Friday / Cyber Monday).
Once a US phenomenon, before gaining popularity in the UK, BFCM and in fact the whole Cyber Month of November is a significant e-commerce event in Ireland with the average Irish Black Friday consumer spending €300. Moreover, with 97% of the population aware of Black Friday/ Cyber Monday, and 3 out of 5 Irish consumers participating in the shopping event last year, it can be an exciting opportunity for Irish retailers to smash their sales targets and gain new customers. When it comes to BFCM, however, preparation is everything.
PLANNING FOR BLACK FRIDAY & CYBER MONDAY
Planning for Black Friday/ Cyber Monday should begin 2-3 weeks before the shopping bonanza kicks off. Here are some preparation pointers to make sure your business gets the most out BFCM this year.
1) PRE-AWARENESS CAMPAIGN
Research shows that the majority of customers have planned their BFCM purchases in advance. Therefore, it’s essential that your potential customers know that your business is participating this year. There are three key ways to achieve this: email, social media and PR outreach.
Emailing your existing customer base with the key dates and times of your sales, alongside important shipping details, is a great way to grow awareness. Moreover, platforms such as mail chimp can help you build a polished and professional newsletter.
Social Media is another fantastic tool for promoting your BFCM deals. Here you can change your profile banner to advertise your BFCM participation, and write and pin posts containing information about your exciting sale. In the week prior to Black Friday, you can promote your posts to boost your reach. Learn more about running Facebook Ads in our free eBook.
A third way to get news out of your BFCM sale, is via PR. Simply google articles about BFCM deals in local blogs and newspapers from last year. From there you can email those journalists a copy of your proposed BFCM deals with a link to your online store.
2) INVENTORY PREPARATION
Carefully plan your inventory, in accordance with a sales strategy that suits your business. Maybe your plan is to sell five units of a big-ticket item at a loss to gain publicity. Alternatively, you may reduce your profit margin by 20% on all items or drop a portion of your inventory to cost price. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes sense for your business.
Putting together an inventory spreadsheet will help you and your website administrator keep on top of things.
3) CREATIVE ASSETS
It’s important to give your in-house, or agency, designers enough time to design your BFCM creative assets for your website and social media channels. A temporary design overhaul, whether it’s changing your online colour scheme or featuring graphics of prices being cut, can really help your business sell the occasion to potential customers.
4) TIME YOUR SALES
Depending on the quantity of your inventory or sale items, it may be most effective to stagger your deals throughout the day, or across a number of days. This helps to keep up momentum, but also reduces the chance of your website crashing or slowing down due to a sudden surge of heavy website traffic. Moreover, you should ensure that your marketing and creative teams have access to your BFCM timetable in order to plan their promotional activities and assets accordingly.
5) TEST SITE DURABILITY
In advance of Black Friday, work with your website developer to test your website and ensure that it’s able to handle the sudden influx of traffic that your BFCM deals will bring.
If you participated in Black Friday or Cyber Monday last November, send your developer any website data you have from that time period so they can have an idea of what parameters to set in the lead up to your sale. This data could include:
- Traffic channel type
- Traffic location
- Busiest time of day
- Landing page report
- Time to purchase
- Site speed
In addition, if a large portion of your website traffic is coming from mobile devices, it’s important to ensure that your website is mobile friendly. Talk to your developer to ensure that your website is easy to navigate via mobile, and to confirm that the sales journey is as seamless as it is on desktop.
Finally, always cross-reference your spreadsheet to double-check that each item on your website is listed and priced correctly, in accordance with your deals, before going live.
The final step of preparing for BFCM success is fulfilment. BFCM is an exciting opportunity for retailers to smash their sales targets in record time, however, it’s important to not lose sight of your day-to-day operations.
Talk to your fulfilment manager, or whoever is in charge of stocking and shipping, to ensure that an increase in deliveries won’t impede your usual delivery standards. Many of your BFCM sales may be first-time customers, so maintaining your high delivery standards is a great chance to turn them into returning customers in the lead up to Christmas.
To keep your e-commerce website running smoothly over the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday period, investing in high-speed business broadband is key. Click here to learn about our award-winning business broadband.
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