How to prepare for Black Friday: the ultimate guide

Alibaba.com OCTOBER 11, 202210 MIN READ
How to prepare for Black Friday: the ultimate guide

Black Friday 2022 is right around the corner, and online businesses around the world are preparing to participate in this event. This American sales event is making its way into different markets due to the rise of e-commerce, so it's becoming more relevant to online store owners around the world.

In this article, we will run through everything online store owners need to know as they prepare for Black Friday. We will discuss what Black Friday is before providing an actionable Black Friday preparation checklist. To wrap things up, we will answer some frequently asked questions about Black Friday.

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is a sales event that takes place the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. It is known as the first major shopping day of the holiday season. This sales event is historically known for its doorbuster deals. People line up outside of stores, hoping to get the hottest deals before the sales items are sold out.

Black Friday is similar to Boxing Day, which is observed the day after Christmas in many of the Commonwealth Nations.1

In the mid-2000s, Cyber Monday became an online-specific extension of Black Friday. With this, Black Friday has evolved into more of a weekend-long sales and shopping event. While some stores still have doorbuster sales, many focus on their online sales.

Last year, buyers in the United States spent the whopping US $8.9 billion on Black Friday on online sales alone.2 Industry experts believe this figure will hit the US $9.5 billion for Black Friday 2022.

Although Black Friday originated in the United States, it has become more relevant around the world as e-commerce has grown. Global growth has been largely propelled by the fact that e-commerce makes it easy for businesses to sell to American consumers no matter where they are located. This digitalization and globalization have naturally exposed more markets to the Black Friday shopping phenomenon.

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How to prepare for Black Friday

If you want to make the most of the Black Friday 2022 sales trend, you're going to have to prepare your business. Not only will you have to prepare your online store for the influx of traffic, but you'll need to lay some groundwork to ensure that customers are aware of your promotions.

Let's run through the online business owner's checklist for Black Friday 2022 preparation.

Plan early

Planning in advance is one major key to success on Black Friday because a lot rides on strategy and preparation. Many businesses require extra manpower to operate their e-commerce operation before, during, and after the day of the sales event to ensure a smooth experience for buyers.

Since shoppers start browsing for their holiday needs as early as October, retailers are wise to get their efforts in motion even earlier if possible.

As we go through this article, we'll discuss a variety of specific things that you'll need to plan in advance.

Get strategic with your deals

Determining how to structure your Black Friday deals is among the most important considerations as you prepare for this sales event.

The most popular deal is a discount on each purchase or on specific items. Many believe that 20% off should be the minimum discount if you want to appeal to buyers.3

You can increase the discounts if you want to catch buyers' attention. Obviously, something like a 99% discount on every purchase would be appealing to potential customers, but it doesn't make sense for your business because it would cause a huge loss. Find a balance that works for your business.

Another popular Black Friday deal is offering a gift with every purchase over a certain dollar amount. The gift could be a small signature item or a gift card for a future purchase.

Prepare your website

Your site is your storefront, so make sure it reflects your brand in the best way possible. This should start with a phenomenal user experience (UX). You can enhance your user experience by ensuring that your overall design is appealing and the site is easy to navigate.

There are a few ways that you can gear the UX toward your Black Friday specials. You could include banners to call out your deals, and you could include an entire shopping page dedicated to the Black Friday sales.

Not only should your UX be superb, but your site speed should be optimized to the max. Make sure that all media is optimized so that your site loads quickly and efficiently.

If there is any part of your sales process that requires a real-time touch, it is important to ensure that you and your team have a stable internet connection when your sales go live. For example, if you have live chat support on your site, it is important to make sure the representatives who will be answering inquiries have reliable internet.

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Create your marketing strategies

Marketing is key for maximizing your Black Friday success. After all, your target audience needs to know about your sales and specials if you want them to come shop.

In the past, businesses ran ads for their deals in the newspaper the day before, but it is appropriate to start promoting earlier if you're focusing on digital marketing initiatives.

You can use your regular marketing strategies to reach your audience, but you should customize them with Black Friday-specific messaging. Here are some marketing techniques that you could use:

  • Email marketing
  • SMS marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Paid advertisements
  • Content marketing (blogs, videos, etc.)

Make sure you use marketing methods that have landed well with your audience in the past. If you don't already have an email list, it is wise to start building one for future sales events since email drips or promotion sequences can be a great way to appeal to buyers.

Prepare your inventory

The surge in sales on Black Friday only makes a difference if you have the inventory to fulfill the orders. That makes it imperative to stock up on your hottest items so you don't run the risk of selling out prematurely.

Place your orders with your suppliers well in advance to ensure that your items arrive in time for the sale. Keep in mind that many other businesses are stocking up for the holiday season, as well, so make sure your preferred suppliers are equipped to fulfill your needs.

Optimize shipping and delivery

The influx of orders on Black Friday requires well-thought-out logistics protocols. Having a system in place that can handle efficiently shipping large quantities of orders is key.

Even though you may be overloaded with orders, it is important to ship each order in a timely fashion. Speedy delivery is very appealing to consumers and has become the norm in many places due to two-day shipping guarantees from many major e-commerce realtors, especially those in the United States. You don't need to master two-day shipping, but keeping that standard in mind is important.

Prepare your customer support team

With a large influx of traffic to your website comes the potential for a proportionately large influx of issues that require customer support. That's why it's very important to prepare your customer support team to handle any circumstances that require troubleshooting or resolution.

Just like brick-and-mortar stores hire additional workers for the Black Friday madness, you might consider having additional customer support representatives working on Black Friday to take calls, answer emails, or manage your support chat.

Enhance your product listings

Since Black Friday is such a major sales event, many retailers participate, and this will likely include at least a handful of your competitors. This means that your product listings on your storefront really need to stand out to capture the attention of buyers.

Two major ways to enhance your product listings include adding high-quality media and optimizing your product descriptions.

Photos are standard for e-commerce product listings, so you can make your products more engaging with videos, gifs, or interactive animations. Make sure everything is high-quality, on-brand, and aesthetically appealing.

As for product descriptions, be strategic with the use of keywords and how you present the items to shoppers. Consider posing items as the solutions to the problems they solve. Make sure to use good grammar and a tone that matches your brand.

Collect and leverage social proof

Ask past buyers for reviews and testimonials that you can share with your marketing materials, product listings, and other areas of your online storefront.

You can request videos or written reviews from your loyal supporters. This will help potential buyers see that people are happy with your products and their experiences shopping at your store.

Secure spots on gift guides

Many influencers, bloggers, and larger online publications share gift guides during the holiday season. These gift guides include everything from general guides like "Gifts for Grandparents" to more niche guides like "Gifts for Wine Lovers."

Find creators with an audience relevant to yours and pitch your items for a feature on their gift guides. Some creators might charge a fee for the feature, and others may want to try your products.

Make sure you begin to approach these creators or their managers at least a month or more so that your request can be considered at an early stage of their content creation workflows.

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Black Friday FAQs

Now that you better understand how to prepare for Black Friday, let's review a few frequently asked questions about this major sales event.

When is Black Friday?

Black Friday takes place the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. Thanksgiving is observed every year on the fourth Thursday in November, so Black Friday typically falls on the fourth Friday of November.

The only exception is if November 1 falls on a Friday. Then, Black Friday would be on the fifth Friday of that month.

Where is Black Friday celebrated?

Black Friday originated in the United States, but thanks to the growth of e-commerce, this sales event is now observed in many parts of the world.

Some countries that have begun to join in on Black Friday sales events include Canada, the UK, Australia, Mexico, several European countries, and countries throughout South America.

Why should I participate in Black Friday?

As an online store owner, participating in Black Friday isn't required. However, many other businesses in your industry are likely offering Black Friday sales, and it is wise to maintain a competitive edge.

Participating in Black Friday deals can help you make more sales, show appreciation to your customers, and draw more awareness to your brand.

Even if your country is based outside of the regions we discussed above, it is wise to offer Black Friday specials if your goal is to reach an audience located within those regions.

Where does the term "Black Friday" come from?

Many people believe that the term "Black Friday" comes from the idea of the common financial terms "red" and "black," which are used to signify profit or loss, but this is simply a common myth.

The term actually originated in the 1960s when people began calling in sick to work the day after Thanksgiving to roll the celebrations into a long weekend. People used the day to start shopping for the holidays, causing chaos and traffic.4

Police officers in Philadelphia who were called into work to manage this chaos began calling the day "Black Friday," and it quickly spread throughout the United States.

Start selling on Alibaba.com

E-commerce platforms provide a destination for B2B buyers and sellers to connect and conduct trade. Alibaba.com, for example, is amongst the largest online B2B marketplaces in the world, making it the perfect place for suppliers to connect with retailers who are stocking up for Black Friday.

Alibaba.com offers a robust collection of tools for B2B suppliers, including smart product posting, product promotion tools, communication management, and more. Plus, sellers can create custom branded Minisites to serve as their online storefronts.

Open a seller account on Alibaba.com to start selling in no time at all.

Resources:
1: http://www.differencebetween.net/business/difference-between-boxing-day-and-black-friday/
2: https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/article/black-friday-ecommerce-sales/
3: https://www.referralcandy.com/blog/how-to-prepare-for-black-friday-cyber-monday#4-apply-the-right-discounts
4: https://www.dictionary.com/e/black-friday/

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