Retailers - Are you ready for Black Friday?

In the dark days before ecommerce, when people had to put on pants to go shopping, clearance specials were like the Wild West. There was gold in them hills! But there were bandits too. Danger lurked at every turn: jammed parking lots, congested checkout queues and hordes of shoppers named Carol demanding to speak to the manager. It was a heady time.

These days, “shop til you drop” has been replaced with “click til you’re sick”. People are as bargain-hungry as ever, but they can hunt from the comfort of their living room. This is great news for shoppers looking to avoid hand-to-hand combat over the last Bratz Doll, but retailers also have cause to be happy.

With Black Friday nearly upon us, retailers have a great opportunity to boost revenue. Sales such as these can be used to move old stock, grow your customer base or increase brand awareness, but you have to be ready.

Online businesses that are not prepared from the rush are in for a world of hurt. Follow these steps to maximise sales while protecting your brand from potential consumer backlash. Your customer services team will thank you.

Ensure server capacity

Can your network handle the traffic expected over Black Friday? A crashing website is not a good look for your business, especially if customers are considering buying from you for the first time. Contact your hosting company to ensure you remain all systems go through the busy period.

Manage delivery expectations

Slick fulfillment is the cornerstone to a successful ecommerce business. You may feel you have your logistics figured out, but consider that your service providers might be under pressure over Black Friday. It might be worth adding a day or two to your delivery lead times to ensure that you (ahem) deliver on your promises.

Make your returns policy clear

This is another case of managing expectations. Over Black Friday, it’s not uncommon for consumers to ‘buy the shop’ with a view to returning unwanted items later. If you’re not geared for this, you’d better make it clear or you could end up all over Hello Peter.

Overstock where possible

This is an obvious but important point. When many of your products are out of stock, you’re not only disappointing customers, you’re not making money. It’s also worth noting that many of your suppliers might be running specials, so make hay while the sun is shining and ensure you’re well stocked up.

CRM is key

Black Friday is about more than just moving product. It’s equally important to leverage this opportunity to grow your consumer base. If your SEO, marketing and pricing are right, you are likely to be flooded with first-time customers. Turn them into repeat customers, and your business will continue to thrive long after Cyber Monday is over.

Lock down your products well in advance

You don’t want to be adding a new product range, editing pictures or changing product information on the morning of Black Friday. This should all be finalised well in advance, freeing up you and your team to concentrate on getting orders out. It’s also important to free up your system resources to deal with the spike in traffic. Ensure that your server is not bogged down with any unnecessary workload. If your Stock2Shop is sending stock and pricing updates to your website, consider pausing this function until after Cyber Monday, leaving the system to just focus on processing orders into your ERP.

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