4 Keys to Black Friday Success

There has been rampant conversation this year about a significant decline in consumer interest in Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This has been in no small part attributed to a cycle of year-round discounting by retailers clamoring for consumer attention, along with the continued rise to prominence of ecommerce events such as Amazon’s Prime Day and Alibaba’s Singles’ Day.

The reality is, as long as Thanksgiving exists, Black Friday will continue to have relevance. Regardless of the doom and gloom reports, it is still expected to be the third biggest shopping day this year. Yet there is no denying the need for retailers to sharpen their Black Friday strategies, once more propelling that day above and beyond the noise of ‘just another discounting day.’ Black Friday holds the potential to set up your retail business for short-term and long-term success. In anticipation, we’ve developed four ways for you to make last-minute adjustments:

Build Your Online Presence for Black Friday

Earlier in November, we attended the Digital Grocery Summit in Chicago, where several brand and retail speakers discussed the modern environment for online retail investments. Walgreens’ Director of Digital Commerce, Wayne Duan, pointed out the power of a single dollar invested online has the potential to influence anywhere from $7 to $11 of offline sales.  Along the same lines, Carmela Cugini, VP Grocery, International, Wholesale at Jet.com, stated that one-third of offline sales are influenced by digital.

You might think that investing in online capabilities and showrooms for Black Friday is counterintuitive and counterproductive. But you’d be wrong. Among shoppers who shopped primarily in-store for Black Friday deals just last year, a whopping 34% indicated that they are changing their behavior this Black Friday, with 20% reporting they plan to shop equally online and in-store, and 31% indicating intent to shop primarily online.

As a result, you must prepare your entire operation to focus on the channels people are actually using to shop and research future purchases.

Move Beyond Price

The threat of death by discount is all too real for retailers as they run headfirst into a race to the bottom on price. Smart retailers are finding other ways to compete, regardless of channel, even when shoppers are primarily there because of the allure of Black Friday deals.

It’s essential to realize that unlocking the potential of ecommerce lies in the ability to reinvent the in-store customer experience online. Without the ability to touch and feel products online, it’s simply not possible to offer the same experience online as in-store for the majority of offerings. In many cases, retail winners are finding ways to provide better experiences – through greater convenience, endless shelf assortments and curated shopping lists with intelligent product recommendations.

You can, and should, differentiate your assortment with bundled offers, special purchase packs, and private labels. Leverage your best sellers and curate tailored shopping lists for consumers overwhelmed by the array of options. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at your ability to drive conversions and margins by carefully guiding shopper perceptions of what they should buy and for how much.

Deliver on Consumer Expectations

Of course, price still does matter. This may be true nowhere more than in the last mile of the sale, where 56% of consumers say cost is the most important factor they consider when placing an online home delivery order. What’s more, 1 of 4 consumers claim they will not even consider buying a product from a retailer that doesn’t offer free shipping.

Can you afford to lose a quarter of your consumer base? Doubtful. But leveraging this insight for your own competitive advantage and emphasizing your shipping policies could be the opportunity you need to drive more interest in your Black Friday deals.

Be Strategic About Your Product and Stock.

One threat to Black Friday’s popularity is trouble having and keeping the right products in stock at the right times. We’ve seen time after time that major retailers sell out of the hottest item of the year even before Black Friday kicks off. Aside from immediate lost sales and margins on the sought-after product, these retailers are further punished as shoppers go elsewhere for other items in their basket as well. It’s essential that you know what your key products and categories are this holiday season and monitor them aggressively. Keep track of your traffic drivers and best sellers to ensure key products are available and well positioned.

Don’t Let Black Friday Be the Black Mark on Your Holiday Sales

Take this advice to heart this holiday season, but don’t stop there. As discounting seasons continue to blur and retailers move away from price wars in search of a more sustainable model, these high-level concepts can be your guide to sustained profitability. Consumers are increasingly digital and are conditioned for convenience and seamless omnichannel experiences. Black Friday is a great time to position your company for long-term success; you just have to make it happen.

Jenn Markey is Vice President of Marketing for 360pi

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