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03 Aug 2018

Laying the foundations for a booming Black Friday

Branwell Johnson, Director of Content - Propeller Group

UK consumers spent a hefty £1.4bn on online sales on Black Friday last year (source IMRG). Every retailer would like a slice of that revenue but in a fiercely competitive market it’s all too easy to get into a discount war, devalue your brand or to disenchant your customers with poor service.

Black Friday takes place on November 23rd this year – that’s in advance of many people’s paydays and when they are approaching full stretch on the previous month’s wages, so the more conscientious may rein in their spending a little. But given spending was up 11.7% year on year on UK retail sites on the day in 2017, the opportunity still seems huge.

Here are a few key points to consider when laying your Black Friday plans:

1. Should you even take part? The answer to this lies in the overall business strategy and identifying the right purpose for participating in a Black Friday sale. You need to identify the goals and they may not be as straightforward as driving sales. They could be raising awareness or shifting out of date stock. But once you know the goals, then they should be a guide for all decisions and prevent ‘heat of the moment’ reactions to what competitors are doing.

2. Be ready to go from midnight on Thursday November 22nd. Customers are now shopping 24/7. If your website is not optimised with inventory, stock is not at the right distribution centre and your IT and customer contact teams are not in place, you start the day at a competitive disadvantage.

3. If you are a retailer with bricks and mortar outlets, then consider what you might be able to create in terms of an experience. Yes, Black Friday sales are driven by the discounts, but the in-store experience is coming into play for attracting footfall. What can you do in terms of a little theatrical razzle-dazzle? Where can you add value to the offer beyond the price cut on the day – are there any exclusive giveaways you can introduce, for example?

4. Price very carefully. Don’t give away margin where you don’t have to. Think hard if you have should participating at all or if this will damage brand perception. This is usually a question for premium/luxe brands. But last year, just by giving a minimal discount, some participating premium/luxe brands enjoyed strong sales.

5. Remember that Black Friday is a run up to Christmas. You can’t afford big mistakes as they will reverberate and have impact for the remaining few weeks until December 25th. If customer fulfilment fouls up or your site goes down, then customers are not likely to shop with you over the festive season and poor word of mouth will deter potential new shoppers. Think about returns too – they are not likely to come back to you in time to get back into the distribution centres and be relevant and ready inventory for Christmas. It’s all about the planning.

This article has been written by Branwell Johnson, Director of Content at Propeller Group.

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