This Friday will see retailers both online and on the high street begin their Black Friday sales, although some stores have already started a Black Friday Week.  

An event that has been carried across the sea from the US, Black Friday is one of the highest grossing days in the retail calendar. If previous years are any indication retailers, specifically online stores, will see a significant increase in sales – with Argos and Amazon receiving an extra £1.4bn in sales thanks to last year’s event.  

However several retailers such as Asda have publicly stated they will not be holding events, preferring instead to concentrate on lower prices all year round rather than flash sales. But for every retailer that is not doing Black Friday there are hundreds that are and if you are thinking of having a Black Friday sale there are several things you need to consider to ensure you run a successful and profitable event.

Make sure the length of your sale is adequate for you

Many stores run their events over more than just the one day with some retailers having events in the week leading up to Black Friday, although Apple hold a four day event starting on Black Friday and continuing over the weekend to Cyber Monday.  

If you do decide to hold a longer event you must think about what promotions you are offering. Having the same offer each day will not bring customers back but if you have a different daily deal you will significantly increase the chance of your customer returning.  Make sure you have plenty of different offers throughout your campaign and at least one big offer that will get customers through the door, something that Martin Lewis would want to shout about.

However, shorter campaigns usually have a higher result for retailers and cause less disruption to the day-to-day running of the business.

Do not overstretch yourselves

Although there are many obvious benefits to holding Black Friday events there can also be issues with running your normal business which could lead to customers receiving a poor service, staff getting stressed and the potential of lost sales. Some stores have cited this as a reason they are not having Black Friday events, including Marks & Spencer’s, as well as the extra problems that can occur once the event has finished. Many customers impulse buy so the amount of items returned in the days after a sale can increase significantly.

If you are considering a Black Friday event you should look into the problems it can cause as well as your own resources. Do you have enough staff? Will your store and tills be able to cope with a large influx of people in such a short time? Will people queuing have any impact on other shoppers trying to move around the store?  A customer who has received a poor experience may give up on their purchase but they may also not return to your store at all and it is worth remembering that a disgruntled customer will tell more people about your bad customer service than a happy customer will about their good service. If you feel that you will be overstretching yourselves it may not be worth holding a sale.

Clear unsold and end of season stock

Even though Black Friday is classed as the start of the Christmas shopping season this can be the perfect way to sell some of your leftover stock.  Out of season stock is unwelcomed by most stores as it can take up space in the warehouse needed for Christmas items. Many shoppers now use this time of year to stock up on garden equipment, furniture sets, outdoor toys and barbecues so by selling your unwanted summer stock everyone is happy!

Have high discounts on limited items

Historically Black Friday has some of the biggest deals of the year which means customers will be looking for the best deals possible.  Some shops offer discounts of between 60-75% which is not always possible on every item. By offering two or three items at a high discount to entice the customer into your store you can then place discounts such as 10-20% on other items.  

For the higher discounted items make sure you have something that will grab the customer’s attention, something that is in demand or the latest fad. Having higher discounts on items that customers do not want can lead to reduced numbers of footfall coming through your doors, regardless of any other offers you have on.

Limit your stock

Many retailers are worried about the implications of having Black Friday sales with the biggest concern being the impact they will have on Christmas sales.  If you limit the amount of stock you have on offer for each item you will encourage customers to head to your store first to get the discount, thus ensuring a higher demand for your shop as well as higher sales.  Customers who have missed out will be more likely to either buy an alternative or to return to your store at a later date to purchase the item at its normal price.

Do not rely on one item to bring in the customers

Although it is important to have a few in-demand items at a higher discount available it is imperative that you also have several promotions at a lower level to encourage your customers’ spending.  If you heavily rely on one or two items you could have problems selling them, for instance, another retailer selling the items at a lower price or in a better bundle, or the customer may not want them.  Many larger retailers – such as Next – display smaller items with minimum discounts next to their heavily reduced items so if their customer does not want one thing, they may want another.

Remember the multi-channel customer

There are some customers who love the idea of heading out first thing in the morning to queue and get the best deals of the day while others will prefer to shop with a cup of tea in front of the television.  Whichever way your customers shop it is essential that you offer your promotions both in-store as well as through your online shop. Online sales often start at midnight although many retailers offer preview events to their members allowing them to see and buy their deals earlier than others.  Not only can this promotion gain you early sales you could also see an increase of members to your loyalty scheme.

If you are thinking about hosting a Black Friday event your strategy will be for one of the biggest retailing events of the year and can be used as a base for any other events such as New Year’s Day sales, just make sure you include all strengths as well as weaknesses to the business as well as what could be the best – and worse – outcome for holding a sale.

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