How to Prepare a Retail Business for Black Friday Sales
November has become a bargain shopping month globally, with traditional and ecommerce retailers offering significant discounts on big-ticket items—sometimes up to 90 percent—on days such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Singles Day.
While these special days are big events for shoppers, they are even more significant if you’re in the retail business, since your annual profits may depend on what share of the holiday spending bonanza your enterprise can capture.
And the stakes for ecommerce businesses are especially high. According to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, online spending globally will top $910 billion (USD) during the 2022 holiday season (from Black Friday to Christmas). That’s up 11 percent from 2021.
In this article, we will suggest ways that your ecommerce or brick-and-mortar retail business can best prepare for the ‘gold rush’ and organize your Black Friday delivery services. But let us first take a closer look at the main upcoming shopping events in the GCC.
The Big Three Shopping Events
1. Black Friday
Falling on November 25 this year (2022), Black Friday involves sales in brick-and-mortar stores and via the Internet. It is a colloquial term for the Friday after Thanksgiving, which has traditionally marked the start of the Christmas shopping season in the United States.
The origin of the term is obscure, but here are some of the possible ways that it might have come about:
- Its first recorded usage was to describe the crash of the US gold market on September 24, 1869.
- Some historians say it was the day that slaves were bought and sold.
- Philadelphia police used the term in the 1950s to describe the chaos on the streets that occurred the day after Thanksgiving when crowds of shoppers and tourists descended on the city.
Retailers later tried to change the negative connotations of Black Friday by creating the narrative that it was a day when businesses could go from the red into the black—from loss to profit.
No matter the origin of the term, it has captured the imagination of bargain-hungry shoppers. Researchers have found that the average discount offered on Black Friday is nearly 50 percent, which could plausibly account for the buy, buy, buy frenzy.
And with the advent of the Internet and ecommerce, retail outlets offer Black Friday bargains online to shoppers around the world, significantly broadening the market. If you are more familiar with the term White Friday than Black Friday, it is because the name was changed in the Middle East in 2014 to avoid the negative connotations of the word “black” and to highlight the positive messages of the Islamic day of prayer on which the shopping day falls.
2. Cyber Monday
Falling on November 28 this year, Cyber Monday, as the name suggests, is a digital version of Black Friday and is dedicated to online sales only. A collective of smart online marketing agencies created the Cyber Monday concept in 2012 to extend the weekend shopping spree. Their ploy has been so successful that many companies now report a doubling of revenues on Cyber Monday.
3. Singles Day
Celebrated annually on November 11, Singles Day originated in 1993 among students in China as a day to celebrate their single status. November 11 was chosen as it represented four single digits (11/11). Social media spread the concept into wider Chinese society and in 2009 leading ecommerce retailer Alibaba began using the event to promote a 24-hour shopping holiday festival, both online and offline, with special offers aimed at young single people.
Singles Day has grown in popularity in other countries, particularly in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. It is now the largest physical retail and online shopping day in the world, with revenues regularly exceeding the combined sales of Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.
Be Prepared—Or be Left Behind
It is a brave—or foolhardy—vendor who doesn’t try to tap into the biggest shopping bonanzas of the year. But nabbing a slice of the lucrative pie takes intricate planning and a measure of risk-taking.
The all-important challenge is to estimate how much stock to hold to meet the surge in demand. Too little and you face stock-outs, too much and you are left carrying excess inventory. Here are some ways to help get the balance right:
1. Study the Data
Decide what products you would like to discount and then do intensive market research. You will need to look at your data from previous holiday seasons, make some adjustments based on economists’ predictions for this year’s increased demand, and study market trends. Digital platforms and AI systems can help enormously in analyzing scattered data and offering accurate predictions.
2. Prepare your Marketing Strategy and Materials ###
Try to get your graphic designers and copywriters working on your marketing materials well in advance. For White Friday, Middle East retailers also need to make sure their marketing messages are culturally appropriate.
Although White Friday is linked to the US’s Black Friday, Friday is a day of prayer for the Islamic faith so the shopping day in the Middle East has a different focus. Be respectful in your advertising and use both Arabic and English in your marketing to reach as many shoppers in the region as possible.
There are also cultural differences when it comes to Singles Day, so you need to adapt the original Chinese promotional templates to your market.
3. Get Your Message Across
Start your marketing a few weeks before the shopping season. Use all social media channels that you can: Facebook, email, SMS, instant messaging services, LinkedIn, WhatsApp etc., to tantalize your customers with your upcoming special deals. Competition is fierce so make sure you optimize your SEO so that yours is the first site customers click on as they begin their bargain hunting.
4. Check your Online Ordering and Payments Systems
No matter how great your products and your marketing may be, if online ordering and payments systems fail on the day, none of it will matter—you will not make any sales. If your system does not operate smoothly and glitch-free, customers will quickly move to other sites. Your competitors are also offering great deals, so defecting customers will be unlikely to return. More and more customers are using mobile devices for their online shopping. Significantly, 66 percent of online sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year were made by customers using smartphones, according to Shopify.
With this trend expected to increase, you can’t afford to miss out. Make sure that your website and ordering systems are adapted for efficient mobile app use. It is also crucial to ensure your online ordering system communicates efficiently with your delivery partners’ systems. How will orders be communicated for delivery? What channels will be used?
Test everything rigorously in advance and upgrade your system(s) if necessary. On the shopping days, have your IT team prepared and standing by to resolve issues as soon as they arise.
5. Choose your Courier Companies with Care
If you are an online retailer, finding the right partner to handle the Black Friday delivery peak is essential. No matter how many sales you make, if customers do not receive their orders on time and in good condition, you will be faced with angry demands for refunds.
Customers have come to expect speedy deliveries, so make sure your courier company has a coordinated plan of action and enough staff and vehicles ready for the big shopping days. It should be well prepared to offer comprehensive last-mile delivery services, flexible delivery times, longer opening hours, earlier pick-up options, and increased storage capacity at distribution centers.
Above all: Do not make promises that your business or your logistics partners cannot fulfill. That’s a sure way to lose customers.
Shipa is Already Preparing for the Delivery Peaks
At Shipa Delivery, we’re already gearing up for the extra demands of November’s huge shopping events. We are servicing our vehicles, providing special training to our delivery teams, and fine tuning our delivery plans and schedules.
Although we always make special arrangements for November’s big-ticket occasions, we are prepared for all shopping peaks – whenever they may occur. Our long-term partners can rely on us to help them face the delivery challenges of these peaks all year round.
Contact us today to discuss how our logistics solutions can help you build your business.