Black Friday signals the start of the holiday shopping season. Heavy discounts are expected across all categories, with fashion, tech and appliances the most common products purchased. Black Friday also falls on the last payday before Christmas, helping the holiday to become a global phenomenon in recent years.
Black Friday will take place on 24th November 2023, followed by Cyber Monday on 27th November 2023, with many retailers offering discounts throughout the weekend. With such a high increase in traffic over this short period, inventory planning is crucial to business success and maximising potential sales. Underestimate and miss out on potential revenue from sales over this busy weekend, having to cut offers short and disappoint customers, or, overestimate and be left with a surplus of inventory that will incur storage fees and eat into profits.
Over the last 5 years, we have seen retailers implement a number of different strategies in order to maximise the impact of Black Friday on their sales. In some cases, brands will offer single-day discounts of up to 80% on Black Friday alone, or deploy a range of offers and promotions throughout the weekend, ending on Cyber Monday.
In other cases, this is extended to a full 7 days, however, it is up to individual retailers’ discretion and will vary from site to site as brands attempt to stand out from their competitors and avoid unnecessary discounting.
1. Heavy Discounts: Black Friday is known for its significant price reductions of up to 80% on a wide variety of products, ranging from electronics and appliances to clothing and home goods.
2. Limited-Time Deals: Many retailers offer exclusive deals, which are highly discounted products available in limited quantities or for very short periods, even of as little as an hour. These deals often encourage early shopping and can lead to long lines and competitive shopping environments.
3. Extended Store Hours: Brick-and-mortar stores may open earlier than usual and stay open late to accommodate the increased foot traffic.
4. Bundle Offers: Retailers might bundle products together at a discounted price. For example, you might find deals where you purchase a gaming console along with a selection of games at a reduced overall cost.
5. Electronics and Tech Deals: Black Friday is well-known for offering great deals on electronics such as TVs, laptops, smartphones, and other tech gadgets that are rarely discounted as heavily throughout the rest of the year.
6. Fashion and Clothing Sales: Many clothing retailers offer substantial discounts on apparel, footwear, and accessories.
7. Christmas Gifts: Black Friday is an ideal time to shop for gifts ahead of Christmas, taking place on the last payday before it with many retailers also extending their returns period for purchases during this time to the end of January.
1. Boost in Sales: Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Participating merchants can experience a significant increase in sales volume, which can help them achieve their revenue goals and boost overall profitability.
2. Clearing Inventory: Black Friday provides an opportunity for retailers to clear out excess inventory and make room for new products. Offering discounts on older or excess stock can help reduce storage costs and improve cash flow.
3. Attracting New Customers: Black Friday draws a large number of shoppers who might not typically visit a store or website. Participating merchants can attract new customers who are looking for deals and discounts, and some of these customers may become repeat shoppers in the future.
4. Increasing Brand Awareness: Black Friday promotions can generate buzz and attention for a retailer’s brand. The increased marketing and advertising around the event can lead to greater brand visibility and recognition.
5. Cross-Selling and Up-Selling Opportunities: Merchants can use Black Friday to bundle products together or promote related items, encouraging customers to purchase more than they originally intended. This can lead to higher average transaction values.
6. Customer Loyalty and Retention: Black Friday deals can help strengthen the relationship between a retailer and its existing customer base. Offering loyal customers exclusive discounts or early access to deals can enhance customer loyalty and encourage repeat business.
7. Data Collection and Marketing Insights: Black Friday can provide valuable data on consumer behaviour, preferences, and purchasing patterns. Retailers can use this information to refine their marketing strategies and tailor future promotions to better meet customer needs.
8. Online Traffic and eCommerce Boost: In recent years, Black Friday has extended to online retailers, leading to a surge in online traffic and eCommerce sales. Participating in online Black Friday promotions can help merchants tap into the growing trend of online shopping.
9. Pre-Holiday Season Kickoff: Black Friday serves as the kickoff to the holiday shopping season. Participating merchants can set the tone for the rest of the season and establish themselves as go-to destinations for holiday shopping.
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The fourth quarter (Q4) is the most critical season for eCommerce businesses. There is a significant increase in demand from customers that actively look for gifts, deals and are eager to make purchases. Black Friday, Christmas and Boxing Day are the main events from the eCommerce calendar.
It’s always a wise decision to prepare your eCommerce business ahead of time for Black Friday and the busiest season of the year.
This is a checklist to guarantee your eCommerce’s readiness for Black Friday and the Peak Season:
1. Use historical data / learn from previous years. Analyse your sales, customer behaviour, and operational performance from previous years. Identify successful strategies and learnings from mistakes. Use these insights to refine your strategies and make informed decisions for the upcoming peak season.
2. Update Your Online Store Early. Make sure your online store and inventory are updated ahead of peak seasons. It should reflect current offerings, accurate pricing, and the latest promotions. By setting everything up early you can run a real-world test, identify mistakes, and avoid one more task in the queue during the busiest season of the year.
3. Simulate peak load testing. Nothing tests your system’s readiness like a simulation. Conduct peak load testing to identify any potential weaknesses or bottlenecks in your system under extreme load conditions. This gives you a chance to address these issues before they can impact your actual operations during peak season. There are many performance/load/stress test tools available.
4. Plan backup options for everything. The holiday season is unpredictable. Companies are busy and might not be very responsive. Issues ranging from website crashes to delivery disruptions can arise unexpectedly. Therefore, always having a Plan B is a good strategy. This could include having an alternative web hosting service, backup suppliers, or an additional delivery service to ensure your business operations are not impacted.
And despite best efforts, emergencies can occur. Having a well-defined emergency response plan can minimize disruption and mitigate damage. The plan should cover a range of potential crises, designate responsibilities, and outline clear steps for resolution.
5. Customer service on standby: During peak seasons, the volume of customer inquiries and issues can significantly increase. Make sure your customer service staff is on the same page, following the same protocols. Adequate your customer service, preparing for this surge.
6. Double check your return policy. An easy, transparent return policy can significantly enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty. Evaluate the possibility to offer a flexible return (i.e.: 60 days) policy during peak season.
7. Set some money aside for refunds. Returns and refunds from Peak Season are part and parcel of the eCommerce industry. While you can try to minimize them, it’s a good business practice to set aside a reserve for handling refunds. This ensures that refund requests do not disrupt your financial planning and also helps maintain a positive relationship with customers.
8. Automate. Automation can be a game-changer for your business. It not only saves time but also reduces the chance of human error. Identify areas where automation could streamline your operations. For instance, a chatbot could handle simple customer inquiries, freeing up your customer service team to handle more complex issues.
9. Get creative with promotions. During the competitive Black Friday, creativity can make all the difference. Consider unique promotions that could encourage customers to be more lenient with shipping times. For instance, offer special discounts or freebies for choosing standard shipping over express shipping. This not only saves you from the pressure of quick deliveries but also enhances customer satisfaction.
10. Can you reduce your fulfilment costs? For the independent retailer with full responsibility for their picking, packing and delivery, the average cost of fulfilling a single order in the UK is £3. eCommerce businesses should look to a tech-enabled fulfilment expert to not only reduce these financial costs but also free themselves from the time-consuming activities that come with ensuring fulfilment is undertaken quickly and accurately.
Originally started in Germany but increasingly being adopted by other countries, Oktoberfest is a traditional event that starts on 17th September and will run all the way through October. During this time expect to see an increase in alcohol and food sales!
Although the exact date is unconfirmed, Amazon has said that there will be another sales event at the end of the year. Based on previous years, this is likely to take place on the 10th and 11th of October.
Trick or treat? Consumers will be looking to get frighteningly good deals on spooky costumes, sweet treats, and decorations on the 31st of October. eCommerce sellers shouldn’t be scared however, this could be a great opportunity to optimise your product discovery to get your Halloween-inspired products to the very top of your listings.
Singles’ Day is a Chinese holiday initially created as a day for single people to celebrate themselves and their status, but it has since evolved into a massive online shopping extravaganza, extending into the US & UK markets.
A noble charitable cause that starts in November sees people grow moustaches to raise money. Whilst sales of razors, trimmers, and shavers might drop down during this period, grooming products for beards and moustaches might see an increase in search volume to keep those nose neighbours looking pristine!
Cyber Monday is the Monday immediately following Black Friday, which falls on the fourth Friday of November. Similar to Black Friday, Cyber Monday is a major shopping event, but it is focused on online retail and eCommerce. While Black Friday is known for its in-store deals, Cyber Monday is all about online sales and promotions.
Cyber Monday originated in the early 2000s as a marketing term to encourage people to shop online and take advantage of the growing popularity of eCommerce. Retailers began offering special discounts and promotions specifically for online shoppers on the Monday after Thanksgiving, catering to those who preferred or were unable to participate in the traditional in-store Black Friday frenzy.
Like Black Friday, Cyber Monday has grown into a significant shopping event, with retailers across various industries offering discounts on a wide range of products, including electronics, fashion, beauty products, home goods, and more. Many online retailers extend their Cyber Monday deals throughout the week, creating what’s often referred to as “Cyber Week.”
Due to customer anticipation of the deals ending, Cyber Monday also has a high sales conversion rate as consumers commit to last-minute purchases before the deals end.
The 25th is the official day to celebrate. However, as the days shorten and temperatures drop, Brits gear up for a season full of traditions, festive decor, and delightful treats. Christmas markets, festive foods & drinks, celebrations and, of course, classical Christmas songs.
Officially kicking off the January sales, many consumers will queue outside brick & mortar stores at 7 am waiting for first access to these reduced items, with eCommerce stores mirroring the trend as consumers flock to use gift vouchers, bonuses and cash gifts received at Christmas.
New Year’s Eve is a time of reflection, celebration, and looking forward to the promise of the year ahead. A traditional part of this celebration is the raising of glasses in a toast. In some countries, wearing a specific colour to bring good luck is also a tradition.
January blues? Not at all – if your business is ready for January sales, you can keep the Q4 momentum.
One of Black Friday’s main advantages is that it takes place before Christmas, providing an opportunity to reduce the cost of Christmas by shopping for gifts when they are discounted. Many Christmas items are also excluded from the sales as they are newly launched, allowing consumers to purchase fewer seasonal items as part of the promotion, however, the brevity of the event, also makes this a potentially stressful shopping experience with couriers struggling to cope with demand, and increased footfall in stores.
January sales, on the other hand, are more obviously focused on reducing excess stock left over from Christmas. Many of the items will have limited variations, such as sizes and colours, available and be seasonal – with retailers discounting items such as advent calendars and gift sets that will be difficult to sell without heavy discounts. Many retailers will offer sale items for much longer, allowing them to continue to sell until the stock is gone, so consumers have longer to compare and make their purchases.
Both events offer opportunities for bargain hunters to save money. Black Friday has one advantage: with more competition, it can provide more options. However, Black Friday happens only in November, so if you have to buy any product earlier, Prime Day is an excellent option.
Last year, Black Friday took place on the 25th of November and resulted in a total of £8.71 billion of spending in the UK.
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