Black Friday Is Coming: Five Tips for Retailers
Sunday, November 1, 2020

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

By Ray Mitchell

For many of us, 2020 has been a year filled with uncertainty. One thing that is certain though, this year more than any other, shoppers are ready to take advantage of Black Friday Deals. With budgets a little tighter than in years past. Deloitte estimates a 7% reduction in holiday spending budgets, shoppers will be looking for good deals and great service.  While more shoppers plan to do their shopping online this year, there are still plenty of intrepid deal-hunters that want an in-store experience. Whether you are an online or in-store retailer, there's still some time to prepare for this year's shopping season. Here are a few things to consider as you finalize your holiday season plans.
Expect Early Visitors
This year, maybe even more so than in years past, shoppers will be looking for a deal. They will be scoping out where they'll shop and the items that they want to take advantage of while prices are good. Expect more traffic both in-store and online before Black Friday and especially on Cyber Monday. Make plans to catch those early bird shoppers with special offers before Black Friday and offer coupons or free gifts (while they last) tied to a purchase when they return on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday.
Make Your Store Covid Comfortable
Shoppers may be concerned about being in a crowded environment. You can help shoppers feel more comfortable while shopping by limiting the number of people in your store at one time and making hand sanitizer and disposable masks available. You can also offer your customers the ability to shop by phone or offer virtual shopping experiences featuring your specially chosen items, through FaceTime or Zoom. It may take a little extra effort around closing time, but taking the time to ensure that the store is tidy with all items in their places, especially around register areas, will give customers the impression that you pay attention to the little things. 
Increase Your Average Sale
While the Black Friday weekend is a great time for shoppers, there's nothing wrong with retailers enjoying it too. A good way to make the weekend enjoyable is to drive increases in your average sale or order value. Create bundles of related items at a discounted price when you purchase the entire bundle, or perhaps a "Buy 3, get 1 Free". In the case of a "buy 3, get 1" sale, offering a free item has more appeal than a simple offer of a 25% discount.
Don't Forget Gift Cards
Shoppers have become accustomed to giving gift cards since recipients often prefer to choose their own gift. In addition to promoting items in your normal inventory, promote the purchase of gift cards as well. Gift cards are flexible, meeting the needs of budget conscious shoppers, and they are a good way to capture a sale for a later date, especially if you're sold out of your most popular items.
Build Your List
ow is the time to think about building and maintaining relationships with your customers for this shopping season and beyond. A good way to do this is through email or text. Sending regular messages to customers notifying them of new arrivals and sales is a way to keep your business top of mind throughout the year. Sending well-crafted messages with a frequency of 1 to 2 times per week can keep subscribers informed about new arrivals and sales without overwhelming them. There are many different email and text marketing platforms available with prices to suit almost every budget. Be sure to have your shoppers to opt into your email or text list to avoid a bad reputation and possible fines.
Plan for Shipping Delays
We all have seen delays from the postal service this year. Retailers across the country have had issues, whether receiving their inventory or getting packages out to customers on time. Be sure to set expectations clearly around your delivery timeframes. If your business relies on a delivery service, be sure to state the cut-off date for placing orders to be delivered prior to Christmas. If you cater to a local customer base, offer in-store pick-up as an option if you accommodate it.
As Black Friday approaches it's easy for your stress level to rise. With a little advance planning you can not only survive this year's holiday shopping season but set the groundwork for a successful 2021.
Ray Mitchell is a marketing consultant, volunteer business mentor and the founder of Made for You Media ( Made for You Media focuses on the unique marketing needs of small businesses and non-profit organizations. Ray is nationally known for his presentations on how small businesses can grow using WordPress.

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