How businesses can make the most of Black Friday in 2019

Capitalize on the busiest shopping day of the year: Black Friday

Do you love waking up early, fighting crowds, and grabbing that amazing deal? Thank Earl Apfelbaum, a Philadelphia stamp collector who first coined the term ‘Black Friday’ in 1965. While describing a particularly busy day at his store, Apfelbaum credited the term to the Philadelphia Police Department, who were struggling under the expected crowds of shoppers.

Plenty of businesses (even non-stamp related) benefit from this unofficial holiday. Traditionally the day after American Thanksgiving, in 2019 Black Friday is on November 29th. Americans alone are expected to spend over $7 billion in just a single day. At a 20% increase from 2018, that’s a hefty number that your business can’t afford to ignore.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are often overshadowed by big box stores during big shopping holidays, but they don’t have to be. The introduction of Small Business Saturday, the day immediately following Black Friday, signals a shift in consumer preferences toward spending their money locally. After all, when it comes to customer service and specialized knowledge, Amazon or Walmart has nothing on your SMB.

Here’s how to capitalize on the Black Friday mania and kick start your holiday shopping season.

Prep, prep, and more prep

To guarantee a profitable fourth quarter, you’re going to need to do your homework. Plan out how you’re going to maximize upcoming retail holidays now. Will you offer discounts? Plan a special event to say thanks to loyal customers? Launch a dedicated advertising campaign? Black Friday preparation started yesterday, so get to it!

Spruce up your website

If you’ve ever been delayed by a slow or unreliable website when online shopping, you know that nothing ruins the spending mood more. While Cyber Monday is important to ecommerce businesses, many shoppers are also heading online to find Black Friday deals. Today’s savvy shoppers rely on retail technology to research products and compare prices online before they buy, regardless of whether they plan to purchase in store or online. Ensure potential customers can find your special offers and deals directly from your homepage with a dedicated banner, or some other promotional graphics or material.

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Online and mobile shopping is at an all time high. Is your online store ready to handle a surge in traffic? How does it look on mobile devices? Is it accessible for all types of shoppers? Invest in your website’s backend now to make sure it can handle a surge of online traffic during the holidays. You can even direct loyal shoppers to your webpage with a dedicated email campaign inviting them to take advantage of special seasonal deals.

Reward loyalty to say thanks

Small businesses are preferred by many customers for the personalized service they can provide. Your local big box grocer can hardly remember your name, but your local butcher shop likely knows you, your dietary preferences, and maybe even your dog’s name. Capitalize on these pre-existing relationships within your community with a dedicated event to thank your loyal customers.

Host an in-store event, hand out samples, provide demonstrations of new products, or simply invite loyal customers to enjoy a holiday-themed treat at your storefront. Not only will you entice customers to come on by (and potentially succumb to impulse purchases), you’ll let loyal patrons know you appreciate their business.

You likely can’t offer the same types of steep discounts that Amazon can, so capitalize on the strength of your local community. You won’t beat big box stores at their own game, so don’t play it.

Strategic sales

Black Friday sales benefit both shoppers and business owners. Promotions like BOGO (buy one, get one) allow shoppers to score deals, and provide retailers with a quick method to move inventory. Products that haven’t sold well are easily moved when they are part of another promotion.

While you may not be able to offer crazy discounts during Black Friday like other multinational corporations, that doesn’t mean you can’t use tools like coupons to entice customers strategically. A coupon for their next purchase can entice customers to return and transform a one-off purchase into a loyal patron.

Keep it coming

Black Friday is no longer a single day – it’s spawned a host of other retail-themed holidays including Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, Green Monday, and more. So why stop your promotional efforts here?

Continue the trend by participating in different events throughout the holiday shopping season. Team up with other local small businesses for special promotions and loyalty rewards on Small Business Saturday. Offer exclusive online-only deals on Cyber Monday for loyal shoppers. Partner with a local charity to bring some corporate social responsibility into your holiday promotions on Giving Tuesday.

When you reward and engage with local customers and your community, you send a strong message that you aren’t a soulless big box store. While large corporations may be able to offer steeper discounts, they simply can’t compete with small businesses when it comes to customer satisfaction, service, and community engagement.

Play to your strengths, and you’ll be rewarded with loyal customers during Black Friday and beyond.

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