Black Friday: How to prepare for retail’s busiest day
Black Friday is an exciting time for shoppers, who love scoring big deals on gift for others and big-ticket items for themselves. For small businesses and local retailers, Black Friday is a major opportunity to drive revenue and start the holiday shopping season off strong.
This year is no exception, with experts predicting a sharp increase in consumer spending — even in the midst of a pandemic. While many feared consumers would scale back shopping budgets during COVID-19, 2020 was a strong season with holiday sales up by 8.3% over 2019*. This year, Mastercard is projecting retail sales will grow by 7.4%* from last year, and 11.1% over 2019.
This means that if you’re a small business, you can’t afford to miss out. But the key to maximizing sales on Black Friday is being prepared, so follow these tips to ready your online and in-person storefronts for the country’s busiest shopping day* of the year:
1. Make sure you have enough inventory.
From clothing to computers, retailers across all industries have been plagued by supply-chain issues and shipping delays throughout 2021. In fact, shipping times for products manufactured in Asia that arrive in the U.S. by both air and sea have doubled during the pandemic.
To prevent frustrated customers and stressed-out employees on Black Friday, now’s the time to prepare your inventory. Review last year’s bestsellers and what’s been trending lately to make more accurate predictions when ordering product. Work with your current supplier to see if they can meet expected demand and consider starting relationships with new ones. Over half of retail executives are planning to source goods through alternate suppliers* this holiday season, so you’ll be in good company with a solid backup plan.
2. Build suspense for the big day.
Teaser campaigns are a great way to get customers excited and thinking about your store before Black Friday. Even if you’re a small business without a marketing manager, creating a teaser marketing campaign is completely doable. Drop a few hints on your company’s social media accounts about upcoming deals and send an email or two in the days and weeks leading up to Black Friday to let customers know some great savings are coming.
Be sure to measure the results of your marketing so you know where to concentrate your efforts next year. Share unique discount codes on each platform and email, which customers can then enter online or quote in person. A different code per outreach method lets you know if someone making a purchase was influenced by seeing your promotions on Facebook, Instagram or somewhere else.
If you’re even just a little tech savvy, you can use retargeting and pixels on your social media accounts and emails to continue to drive sales and conversions even after Black Friday is over. Setting these up is easier than you think, and there are plenty of free resources online to guide you.
3. Line up the right payment technology.
When Black Friday hits and you have a long lineup of customers, the last thing you want to be doing is waiting for your POS machine to process a payment. Or, maybe even worse, struggling to connect your system to the internet or turn away a customer because you can’t accept their digital wallet as a payment method.
Avoid these payment nightmares by ensuring you have the latest technology on hand to help check out customers seamlessly and efficiently on the big day. Consider a mobile POS device to let customers conveniently pay for their purchases right in the store aisles while preventing a long lineup and frustration at the main counter.
Try using talech, the tablet point-of-sale solution from Elavon designed to help retail stores run their business better. Besides being mobile so you can check out customers virtually anywhere, talech lets you handle returns and exchanges easily, manage inventory and employee hours, and gain insights into your top-selling products. The device also accepts digital wallets and tap-to-pay cards, so you can cater to the nearly 50% of consumers who will only shop at stores that offer contactless ways to pay*.
4. Improve your online store experience.
More people are shopping online during the pandemic*, and this includes during the holiday season. For the 2021 shopping season, Mastercard is projecting that online retail sales will grow by 7.6%* over last year, and a whopping 57.4% compared to 2019.
Take full advantage of this big spike in online shopping by ensuring your ecommerce store is ready. Check that your website can handle the added traffic, is user friendly so customers can easily find what they need, and has a simple, secure payment experience. Research shows 18% of people abandon their shopping cart because of a long and complicated checkout process* — so work with your payment processor to confirm your store only requires a few clicks to pay.
5. Extend your sales throughout the season.
Nowadays, Black Friday is much more than a single day — it’s an entire season, with shoppers expecting (and spending plenty of dollars on) great deals before and after. This consumer demand is an excellent opening for retailers to continue to drive strong sales numbers.
Encourage more purchases by starting early with special promotions on the days leading up to Black Friday and keep things going through the weekend into Cyber Monday. Offer different sales on different products to keep customers coming back in person or virtually. Not only can this strategy boost profits, but it can also help you better manage the flow of customers and maintain physical distancing.
Finally, you can increase total customer spend throughout the season by offering value-added services like gift wrapping, gift cards and personalized greeting cards for online purchases.
Need help optimizing your online or in-store payments in preparation for the holiday season? Get in touch with Elavon today.
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[i] Credit Suisse Study, “Payments, Processors & FinTech, January 2020
[iv] Business News Daily
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