Retail therapy: top tips for a stress-free and successful Black Friday

Software DevelopersAppdrawn Team | Published 3rd November 2023
There may be only weeks to go, but there are still steps which can be taken to ensure a smooth and successful event.

It was a decade ago this month that scenes of shoppers fighting over discounted TVs were streamed via social media and broadcast to our own TVs. This was Black Friday 2013. We watched dedicated queuers setting up camp at dawn, security guards navigating crowded shopping centres, and even the odd arrest. Some of us (whisper it) saw such sights first-hand, as we too went down to our local high street or drove to an out-of-town mall in an attempt to pick up the best bargains.

Nowadays, Black Friday is a more sedate affair for consumers. Deals are comparable and buyable online, websites are optimised for all devices and marketing teams have prepped our inboxes and notifications ahead of time, helping us narrow our choices. But Black Friday is still a spectacle and a significant event in the retail calendar. Sales last year hit an estimated £12.3 billion according to market intelligence firm Mintel, up 8.3% year-on-year. We may be in the midst of a cost of living crisis, but if 2022’s attitudes are anything to go by, we’re still willing to spend if we think it’s a cost-effective move in the long-run. According to Mintel, 63% of consumers agreed that the financial concerns of last year made Black Friday even more important than the year previous.

Black Friday may be more sedate for shoppers, but it can still be a fraught and frantic time for retailers. The solution can be found in advance planning. Black Friday has been an annual staple in the UK for over ten years, so there’s no excuse for avoiding the event or downplaying its significance. As with many a trend, we can credit Amazon for the import, with the tech giant introducing Black Friday sales in 2010. However, it seems that even this market behemoth was ill prepared. The event was such a success that the website couldn’t handle the scale of traffic and crashed.

Unfortunately, this is a problem which still hits many retailers. Remember last year’s air fryer craze? So popular was Ninja’s device (among other kitchen gadgets) and its Black Friday sale offers that its website crashed soon after marketing emails were sent to customers.

So, ensuring your website can handle traffic surges should be the first thing for retailers to check off their Black Friday prep list. There may be only weeks to go, but there are still steps which can be taken to ensure a smooth and successful event.

Get your site up to speed

Waiting for a website to load is frustrating. For a customer visiting your site on Black Friday, those extra seconds or milliseconds could be the only reason they need to abandon your site – and their basket – and head to a competitor with a speedier shopping experience. Make sure you fully audit your site in advance of the big day, checking the speed of every page.

A quick and easy way to do this is via Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

Ensuring you have a speedy site could also benefit SEO. Although relevance is a primary factor determining Google search rankings, page speed is also important. Google first announced this in 2010, and in 2018 a further update ensured that speed was also a ranking factor for mobile searches.

Communicate with customers

Many consumers use Black Friday to make big purchases in the hope of making big savings. Electronics and tech are the most popular items to purchase over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, according to a 2022 report by financial advice site, with almost half of respondents estimating they’d spend £200 or more.

Retailers should communicate quickly and clearly with consumers at key points of the shopping experience, providing reassurance and helping to build brand trust and loyalty. Order confirmation emails should be automated and sent as soon as a purchase is made, reiterating key pieces of information regarding the order. This should be followed by a shipping confirmation email, delivery notification and – if relevant – an optional review or feedback request. Allowing shoppers to access and amend their order – changing the delivery address, for example – can also be beneficial.

When shoppers are planning to spend big, it’s important to make sure that this communication is timely and that information is displayed clearly. Again, this approach is critical for Black Friday but should also be adhered to year-round. We’ve worked with clients and seen the results of this first hand. When we built a web app for a property host solutions firm, we incorporated a feature which allowed the firm’s customers to track order progress, bringing flexibility and control to the ordering process and expediting the user journey. This prevented 99% of customer order issues from occurring as a result.

Think beyond the price tag

Dropping prices may seem like the most obvious way to win customers’ hearts (and wallets!). However, considering the current economic climate, implementing dramatic price reductions simply isn’t an option for many smaller retailers. In previous years we’ve seen an increase in dodgy discounts; according to a report last year by Which? only one in seven Black Friday deals offered a genuine discount.

Retailers should therefore consider other ways of enticing shoppers while at the same time preserving and nurturing brand trust.

Free shipping is one such approach. This could be in line with a set threshold (i.e. customers must spend a certain amount to obtain free shipping) or tied in with a membership scheme.

Other ideas include offering bundled discounts, which encourage consumers to buy more and can also be a way to shift older stock. Rotating and flash sales – whereby discounts are offered on a particular category of product or products for a limited time – are another alternative to mass price cutting. This can also provide additional marketing and communication opportunities, encourage consumers to return to your site over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, and provide a more dynamic shopping experience.

So there we have it: three quick and easy ways to improve the Black Friday experience for consumers and for your ecommerce business. If you want to find out more about improving your retail site or mobile app, why not get in touch? At Appdrawn we work with retailers to build bespoke ecommerce sites and integrate retail technologies including payments processing, personalisation and marketing functions to websites and apps.

Appdrawn Team | Updated 31st January 2024

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