Get your business ready for Black Friday

As Black Friday approaches, Anna Grant from outlines the final steps SMEs need to take.

So, you haven’t had time because of everything else and you can’t believe it’s already mid-November and all those wonderful, organised calm and collected plans are vanishing in front of you as you get closer to what is going to be the biggest sales period of your year.

We hear you! It’s been relentless this year for businesses both retail and online, so what can you do now and what should you focus your final days and midnight oil hours on?

“Black Friday is about lots of things like driving volume, clearing old lines but most importantly it’s a way of getting a new customer to purchase from you for the first time and getting them hooked on your brand and service so let’s not lose sight of that”

Here are some suggestions that will hopefully help, get you on the road to a successful a profitable final quarter.

1. Clean & Clear Communication

Plan your emails, fliers, signage or whatever else your budget will allow you to do because you won’t be able to do that the night before. Make sure you have a clear plan around merchandising, pricing and what offers you can give this Christmas. The key here is to keep it simple and keep the message clean – Less is always more so be sure to not overcomplicate things.

What is your Social eCommerce and online sales strategy for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, 12 Days of Christmas?

Make sure you know what channels work for you. Don’t try and re-invent the wheel and try something different during a key selling period. Focus on what works for you and your business. Is it Instagram where most of your traffic comes from? Or is it Google AdWords, have you got your campaigns setup correctly. Facebook store, does this convert higher sales for your business? Have you tried TikTok yet? Whichever of these sales channels gives your business the strongest sales it’s now time to double down.

2. Experience is Key – User Experience (UX)

Your website and how it performs is key to a successful Black Friday and festive season. Speed is fundamental to this. Having a slow site impacts not only your customers’ shopping experience but also your conversion rate. You will receive surges in traffic to your website which will result in a slower performance but also potentially to a complete collapse of your site at a time that you really do not need, as this is your time to sell.

So, what can you do? It’s worth carrying out your own speed test of your website, make sure you know how it is running. What would you do as a customer if you came to a slow website…..bounce and go to your competitor. If you can, you should consider upping the scale of your services and your bandwidth with your hosting provider to support this additional traffic.

Most hosting providers will give you options to increase this for a month or for a set period of time, so now is the time to do it. It might cost 50pc more for hosting for 30 or 45 days but it will be worth it.

It’s always good to check your products on your site but especially now. With all this potential growth in sales you need to have checked your stock or if they are still due then what is your expected delivery time. What is your contingency if you sell out or your shipment is delayed?

Ensure you have done a physical stock take of at-least your best-selling items, do not just trust what is on your ERP systems. This is the one time of year you do not want to disappoint your customers. It’s really important that your products are live on the site, available to buy, are well categorised and have a clear description and image in place. You would be amazed at how this can be missed. If you have the basics done you will improve the customer’s experience and make it even more likely they will buy. This is the experience your customer expects.

3. The Nuts and Bolts – Customer Experience

There is no point doing a Black Friday discount to lure in a new customer if you don’t meet their expectations and disappoint them as you will have reduced your price, made less money and then lost them.

Black Friday is about lots of things like driving volume, clearing old lines but most importantly it’s a way of getting a new customer to purchase from you for the first time and getting them hooked on your brand and service so let’s not lose sight of that. Win new customers and retain them.

Everything won’t go perfectly, that is the only thing you can be sure of – and it probably won’t be your fault – But what matters is what you do about it when it does go wrong. If issues arise, who is leading your customer service effort? Do they know how to deal with problems? How much can you afford to spend to keep them happy?

Returns, this is always a thorn in the side of a business, but it is important that you plan for this and again ensure your staff are aware if changes have been made to the returns policy. Are there changes specific to seasonal goods, but standard stock is not affected? Review your online returns policy and make sure it is very clear and concise for your customers. The more efficient this process is, the less it will impact your profitability.

4. Great Expectations

Managing your customer expectations is crucial and so many businesses don’t consider this. Let’s start with Delivery Terms and Conditions. These need to be updated and amended for this upcoming season.

Your delivery provider will be under pressure, has your delivery time frame of 1-2 days increased to 3-5?

Ensure this detail is updated on your website. Make sure your customers are aware of any changes to these T&Cs. If you do this, you will reduce the calls to your CS team and allow them to focus on real issues. You will also ensure your customers are happy.

Anna Grant
Anna Grant co-found of Captivate. Anna began her career in PR and then moved to advertising agency Publicis Mojo and worked for some of the biggest brands in the world. Anna then went on to set and up and successfully sell multiple online businesses, with the most recent being Flowers Made Easy. From working on her own online businesses over the last 14 years Anna understands the challenges of running an online business and how best to make it succeed. Anna is also mum to two wonderful kids Isabelle and Harrison and when she isn’t running around after them or working, she loves nothing more than a long walk, especially near the sea!