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6 Tips for Your Ecommerce Brand to Successfully Navigate Black Friday 2020

Today on the blog, long-time ecommerce expert Edward Scott-Finnigan shares six strategies to help your online brand successfully take on a Black Friday like no other!

Written By
Dan McIvor

It’s only just begun…

Black Friday buzz is here early, kicked off by a mix of the big “C word” – and sprinkle of hype from big US giants like Walmart, Target and Best Buy already making their case for a true “online-only” Black Friday sales period by closing their physical doors.

It’ll be interesting, as I’ve witnessed what I can only describe as a “pretty crazy” in-store experience, and I think that’s a key factor at play we might be missing. Black Friday for some is more about the in-store experience, as well as the bonkers discounts.

Now I’m not sure the rest of the world will fully close up shop if they don’t have to (feel free to come back post-Black Friday, point and “nur nur nur nur Edward got it wrong” me).

However, I firmly believe brands/retailers/merchants alike will have to work harder than ever to reap the rewards of a successful Black Friday period moving forward. 

My six key lookouts for this upcoming season;

#1 Start early!

Have you noticed, Black Fri-“Day” has evolved into a two-week sales period for some? Ahem, cough, “Amazon”… 

Start seeding your audience a bit earlier – use your personas/cohorts/customer groups and drip feed them into your sales period. Want to reward your VIPs? Give them early access, a special bundle for your frequent buyers? Why not?

#2 Speak with one voice

Social, blogs, email, SMS, CRM – please please please make sure you are communicating in one, easy-to-understand, succinct, direct voice. 

Provide answers to all those commonly asked questions: when does the sale start, what is the shipping cost, what is the returns period, will it take longer than normal to ship due to “current times”? Give your customer (and maybe customer service team) a gift of reassurance.

#3 Hold their hand

Huh? Edward – have you gone mad? Possibly, but hear me out. If I had a penny for every time I hear the term “overwhelming” I’d probably have  £1.52 by now. Bad jokes aside, it’s true.

We spend so much time and money on good UX, customer funnels, targeted ads – and then we slap a big ol’ Black Friday Sale banner on a collection page and expect our lovely customers to wade through the labyrinth of offers – again why does Amazon split things out to two weeks? In my view, because there is so much they want to communicate you almost need a two-week holiday to make sure you see everything on sale. 

Focus on holding your customer’s hand through the sales period. It’s more important to listen and understand your customers’ needs beyond “50% off” – create bundles that meet their needs, understand their “why” for coming back to you.

#4 Get creative

Beware, you’re in a crowded space! Think your customers are only surfing your deals? Nuh-uh! I’m as much of a goldfish as the rest of you, come on – admit it. You’re surfing the latest greatest deals from one company when a darn email pops in, one of those pesky banners ads pops up, or your best bud messages you to check out the latest 79 inch flatscreen on XYZ site. You’re off! 

We human beans like short, digestible content – so curate your landing pages, collection pages into small, succinct, hyper-focused groupings.

#5 It’s all about the stock!

Black Friday used to be all about clearing stock to allow for holiday-focused products – Halloween, Xmas etc. Now I’m not saying that this isn’t the case for most – but it has evolved into a blanket sale whether you have ageing stock or not. 

Now more than ever, assuring your stock flow is consistent and you communicate stock levels effectively will reduce customer disappointment. Look at including stock indicators on your product pages or even in your abandoned cart programs. Supply your customers with clear indication on whether they need to pull the trigger now, or they can come back later on that evening to finalise that purchase. 

If stock has sold out, consider removing them from collection pages – nothing worse than turning up to the party and finding everyone’s gone home!

#6 Did somebody say uptime?

So it’s fair to say we are “all about Shopify” here – and who doesn’t love a bit of Shopify’s Black Friday Cyber Monday real-time data feed?

The beauty of SAAS platforms is to allow someone else to shoulder the pain of upscaling their platform in peak periods. Now don’t get me wrong, no platform is infallible – but we had so much confidence in Shopify last year we chose to have our Xmas party early and celebrate the festive season on Black Friday! (Also happy to report with zero incidents.)

Whatever platform you use, plan for increased load, especially as more consumers are anticipated online this year.

Wrapping up

I hope this highlights a few areas to focus on this coming November.

I wish I could write a cast iron guide on how to approach this year’s roller-coaster ride, however, the rule book is ready to be re-written and with a bit of careful planning we can all hold on and enjoy a wild time. 

Already looking forward to post-Black Friday teardowns 👊


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