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How to plan for your first Black Friday?

14 October 2022

As a budding retailer, knowing how to plan for the biggest shopping day of the year can be daunting, especially if you’ve only just begun to find your feet. Let’s face it, taking the plunge and following your dream of being an entrepreneurial shop owner is challenging, even in the slowest period.   

However, your first Black Friday could kickstart a successful first year of business if you prepare for it properly with plenty of time to spare. 

Clara Jammes

Why is Black Friday so important?

Black Friday isn’t just a huge opportunity to boost sales; it’s also an inexpensive way to acquire new customers ahead of the festive season. 

Fully embracing Black Friday will also help you prepare for the holidays ahead by allowing you to identify your bestsellers, gather data, and drive repeat sales. 

Below are some tips and tricks for preparing for your first Black Friday and ways to avoid the potential pitfalls you could face during this busy time of year.

Five ways to plan for a successful Black Friday

1 – Develop an omnichannel strategy

Today’s customers desire a more dynamic, multi-platform experience, so think about making the process as fluid as possible by combining online shopping with your in-store experience. Would your customers benefit from having the additional option to pick up their purchases from your shop or have them delivered? Can you do things on social media and your website to attract physical visits to your store? 

Feel free to blur the lines between the tradition of offering in-store discounts on Black Friday and digital deals on Cyber Monday. Your goal should be to create a multichannel shopping event for your customers that spans several days.

2 – Get your assortment ready

As a new retailer, you may not yet have identified your bestsellers. You’re probably not familiar with your customers’ needs and spending habits either, and that’s okay. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself this Black Friday; instead, view it as an opportunity to learn more about what will help your business thrive. Make the most of Ankorstore’s Independent Black Friday event, taking place from 17th – 26th October, and use the lower prices to test various products by focusing on assortment variety over quantity. Of course, you’ll want to account for an increase in sales, so stock up accordingly. Focus on evergreen products that’ll be able to stock through the holiday season and beyond to avoid being stuck with unsold seasonal goods.

3 – Run an email campaign

While sales are expected to grow during the Black Friday period, it would be unwise to sit back and expect traffic to your shop to increase organically. Create an email campaign to help market your Black Friday deals. This will make sure you’re on your customers’ radars and create buzz about your upcoming promotions. Make sure you give yourself enough time to write a sequence of emails and schedule them in your CRM. 

Don’t have the email addresses of your customers? Try running a social media competition or giveaway ahead of time to help you gather their data.

4 – Apply strategy to your shop layout

Put yourself in the shoes of a deal-loving customer on a mission. What does their journey in your brick-and-mortar shop look like? There are a number of strategic steps you can take to optimise your shop layout this Black Friday: 

  • Design an attractive window display with eye-catching signage and featured products 
  • Place sale items near the front
  • Make sure sale products are easy to find and identify
  • Post clear signage throughout the shop
  • Put smaller add-on products for up-selling on or near the cash desk

5 – Manage your customers’ expectations

One of the worst things to happen to a retailer is their customers losing trust in them. If you’re still working to build a network of loyal customers, then you’ll want to avoid this happening more than ever. It’s not just about ensuring your stock supply is high enough to meet your customers’ increased demands; it’s about providing a positive customer experience from start to finish. 

Make sure the stock levels on your website are up-to-date and that what’s on sale and what isn’t on sale is made clear both online and in your shop. Then set a realistic shipping promise to avoid disappointing your customers or being seen as unreliable. Keep track of which orders must be shipped first – in cases of customers who pay extra for a speedy delivery – and prioritise accordingly.

The three most common mistakes and how to avoid them

Failing to plan for Black Friday is a new retailer’s biggest potential pitfall. But there are other, more nuanced mistakes that, when made, can hinder the success of your business. 

1 – Focusing only on discounts

Your customers are likely to be expecting a deal at this time of year. After all, that’s the whole point of Black Friday. However, in your desire to move stock and make sales, don’t over-discount and reduce your margin to such a degree that it proves unprofitable. Instead, think about other ways to add value without simply discounting the individual products on your shelf, such as:

  • Vouchers for discounts on further purchases
  • Buy one get one free offers
  • Gift with purchase
  • Gift sets and package deals
  • Free shipping when selling online

2 – Underestimating your online sales

Initially, Black Friday was considered an in-person shopping event with customers flocking to the high street in search of a physical bargain. However, the lines have blurred over the years, with many seeking discounts in the digital realm, so make sure you don’t overlook the possibility of your online sales skyrocketing. 

If you established your business as an online shop before opening up your brick-and-mortar store, there’s an even greater chance of online success. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my online process prepared for an influx in sales? 
  • Is my stock up to date? 
  • Are my product descriptions clear and accurate? 
  • Is the shipping promise I’ve made realistic?

3 – Not collecting customer details

You’re missing out on a massive opportunity if you don’t use Black Friday to collect your customers’ details and build your database. Focusing on data collection enables you to drive repeat purchases long after Black Friday’s end. Collecting data can also help you better understand your customers, which allows you to tailor a customer experience that meets their requirements. The happier your customers are with the experience you provide, the more likely they will become loyal repeat customers.

The key to a successful Black Friday is planning, so as a new independent retailer, properly giving yourself enough time to prepare for the months ahead is crucial. From your product assortment and email campaigns to your shop set-up and customer experience, being prepared will give you the edge this season, no matter how new you are to the retail landscape.