Don’t Let Black Friday…
Leave You with a Black Eye!
It seems like each year Black Friday becomes a more intensive event. With brick & mortar stores trying to get a jump on the competition……and ecommerce sellers developing more aggressive digital sales plans, Black Friday may be about to become Black Five-Day! For many retailers, this major shopping event can “make or break,” their year. For that reason, it is more imperative than ever that ecommerce sellers adequately prepare for this shopping extravaganza.
You will need to double check your inventory, confirm your logistical support processes are geared up for the increase in activity and of course “prep,” your sales and customer service teams to ensure they are emotionally and psychologically prepared for the onslaught of demanding and frazzled customers. In other words….it is time to prepare for retail battle!
Ecommerce consultancy Salmon, predicts that consumers will spend over 5.78 BILLION (Euros) shopping online from November 24th until Cyber Monday on November 28th! It is Salmon’s opinion that Black Friday is poised to become a five-day shopping event.
All Hands on Deck!
With little more than four weeks to go, now is the time for your business to begin the process of preparing for this all important retail event. Many large multi-national conglomerates actually have full time departments doing nothing for the 365 days leading up to Black Friday but mapping out strategies and “prepping,” their retail outlets to be fully up-to-speed in preparation of “zero-hour,” for Black Friday.
Where many retailers used to close for Thanksgiving Day and then open at 8:00 am on the Friday after Thanksgiving……many will now not only stay open all day Thanksgiving……but they will stay open right through the next day as well. It is now almost considered a “right-of-passage,” for consumers to hit the stores around 10:00 pm on Thanksgiving night and shop right through breakfast. Grab a quick bite…..and then jump back into the melee!
The same strategies are now being employed digitally for ecommerce shoppers as well. Many online sellers are implementing new marketing concepts and ideas to try and anchor online shoppers on their site over a period of not just hours……but days!
Let’s take a look at some of these new concepts and strategies that ecommerce sellers are holding in their arsenals to defend their retail territories with.
Now is the time to run “overload,” scenarios to ensure your system can handle any influx of heavy business over your website. You should be checking everything from power surge protection units to back up servers and internet connections. Are all of your computers debugged and up-to-date with the latest anti-virus software? This is the perfect time for hackers and saboteurs to try and infect your company with viruses! Are your phone systems capable of handling a massive amount of calls coming in to your call center? Have you scheduled “comfort” stations for your sales staff during that time period? Nothing keeps “smiles” on the phones like on-site massages and food service!
Spread Out….Don’t Bunch Up:
Set up online contests to encourage your shoppers to continue to frequent your site. If you have some very “hot” items that are limited in their availability, set up a random contest or activity that will encourage your buyers to swing back to your site to have a chance at purchasing that product……don’t just list all of those hard to get items on your website so that when they are gone…..so are your buyers! Post “floating discounts.” In other words, every so many minutes, post a digital coupon and or an unannounced sale on certain premium products. Once the word gets out over social media (which you should be driving) buyers will come to your site in anticipation of these floating-deals. By posting these specials and coupons in what appears to be a random fashion, you can encourage sales during your off-peak sales times. This reduces strain on your system and your fulfillment departments.
Brief Your Sales Staff:
The worst thing you can do is keep your staff in the dark on what marketing plans you have set in motion. They should know what to expect so they are not caught off guard. Many years ago, a large nationally known brick & mortar chain “surprised,” their stores in certain markets with an unexpected deep discount sale originating from their corporate offices. The stores were not prepared for it and the sale collapsed under the weight of poor execution. Sales people hate surprises! Making them aware of marketing campaigns, promotions, sales and contests in advance will allow them to map out strategies to best service your customers during heavy traffic sales surges.
Develop your system to handle whatever workload you anticipate could take place during the Black Five-Day event……then DOUBLE IT. In other words, imagine the unimaginable when it comes to the two extremes of your ecommerce sales plan for this event. If your sales are at an even greater level than you had anticipated, be prepared to implement a plan that will not let you lose customers who are waiting on hold to speak to a sale representative. This may include some type of customer call “queuing” system to help control call surges. Do you have a pre-recorded message system that is engaging and comforting to the caller so they will continue to wait on hold?
If your sales are tanking and you feel the Black Five-Day event slipping by your sales numbers……do you have a contingency plan to drive customers to your website from social media such as hard to find “hold-back,” products that could be released? Perhaps even greater floating coupons that could be shared on social media sites would be prudent to have in case you needed to bolster your sales at the last minute?
Have you gone over your employee schedules to make sure that you will have enough Staff on hand to handle the influx of business? If you outsource your technical support for your system, servers, website and phones….have you ensured that your vendor will have their employees on call and ready to service you in an emergency? If you are shipping some (or all) of your products from a contracted fulfillment center have you confirmed they will be fully manned and able to ship your orders immediately? Now is the time to make sure that everyone you will be counting on for a successful Black Five-Day event are in place and ready to go.
Learn from your past mistakes!
Over the next several days, you should be reviewing your last year’s performance numbers regarding Black Friday. Now is the time to extrapolate the positives and the negatives of last year’s performance. Those who do not review their past business mistakes are doomed to repeat them. If you thought you were saving payroll last year by running a short-staff……do you know what that may have cost you in lost revenue? Take a good, hard, comprehensive look at how your company performed last year during this major event and then figure out what you need to do better this year to improve your sales. Rest assured, your competitors are doing that same thing right now……as they prepare to do battle against you!