In the last few years Black Friday has established itself as a starting gun for the busy shopping period leading up to Christmas. Last year, UK shoppers spent £1.23bn on online shops on Black Friday compared with £1.1bn spent online on Black Friday 2015. And, it’s not just one day, the Black Friday sale period often extends over the weekend and into Cyber Monday - a day typically associated with online bargains.
Does Black Friday affect small ecommerce businesses?
While Black Friday is frequently seen to be dominated by big online business, small online sellers are also experiencing the benefits of more shoppers online looking for a deal over the Black Friday weekend.
Data taken from the Zenstores’ platform shows that from the middle of November 2016 the number of orders started to build up, with a dramatic increase over Black Friday weekend.
The order volume for Black Friday itself was 133% higher than the previous busiest day (Monday 21 November) and 158% higher than the previous business busiest Friday (18 November).
As Zenstores’ data is gathered from small ecommerce businesses based in the United Kingdom, it demonstrates that Black Friday does have a noticeable effect on smaller online sellers. In general, there will be more people shopping around online on Black Friday and this will impact all online businesses of any size.
Even after Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2016, orders didn’t drop back down to their previous level. Sellers were consistently busier right through until around 16 December, with shoppers paying increasing amounts of postage to guarantee a pre-Christmas delivery. So, whether or not you offer any Black Friday discounts, it’s worth preparing for an increase in traffic and orders in the run up to Christmas.
How to prepare for Black Friday as a small ecommerce business
First and most importantly, you’re going to need to know when Black Friday and Cyber Monday are:
Black Friday is Friday, 23 November
Cyber Monday is Monday, 26 November
Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk preparation. There are three main things you will need to do to ensure your business takes full advantage of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday rushes:
- Improve your shop and processes
- Decide on and run a promotion
- Step up your marketing for your shop
Improve your shop
- Make sure your site is mobile friendly: If you haven’t made your shop mobile friendly already then you are definitely missing out on sales as more and more shoppers use smartphones to make purchases. Find out about making your shop mobile friendly here.
- Hire extra staff: This won’t be necessary for all businesses, but if you’re a one or two person team then you may need some extra help over busier periods. A small team can easily be swamped by orders, especially if staff members are ill for a couple of days.
- Extend your fulfilment times: It’s always better to overestimate your dispatch and delivery times, rather than disappoint customers with late deliveries. If you need to maintain same-day or one-day dispatch because you sell on eBay or Amazon then again it may be worth hiring part time staff.
- Monitor stock levels: Make sure you’ve ordered enough stock, and keep on top of your stock levels so that you don’t over sell items.
- Impress first time buyers: It’s likely you’ll have a lot of new customers throughout Black Friday and pre-Christmas so make sure that you have all your processes in order to offer a swift and problem-free delivery and make a good impression on them.
Running a Black Friday promotion
Amazon and eBay will be running Black Friday offers that they’ll promote heavily, so even if you don’t offer any discounts yourself there’s likely to be an increase in traffic. If you want to run a sale either on a marketplace or your ecommerce website you could:
- Discount selected items - some best sellers and some items you want to clear out before Christmas
- Offer a discount across your whole shop, or discount thresholds so that the more someone orders the more money they save.
- Offer free shipping
Make sure that you have a clear time frame for your offer; a shorter sale period may encourage people to order, but a longer running offer will spread out the increase in orders and give you more time to fulfil them.
Marketing your Black Friday promotion
The most important aspect of running a Black Friday sale is making sure that people know about it:
- Email customers: Include a note about the sale in all emails to customers - order confirmations, newsletters etc, as well as sending out a specific email about it.
- Social media: Keep reminding your social media followers about the upcoming sale.
- Website: The homepage of your website should have details about your Black Friday promotion. And, while the sale is running every page should include reminders about the discounts that you’re offering.
Learn more about marketing in the run up to Christmas here.