7 ways to prepare your ecommerce site for Black Friday

First published: 02-11-2017

7 ways to prepare your ecommerce business for Black Friday

Is your ecommerce business Black Friday ready? In 2016, the BBC reported that Black Friday online sales had risen by 12% from the previous year, with £1.23bn spent on Friday 25 November and an eye-watering £6.45bn spent across the entire week.

The increased interest in online sales has seen many shoppers deserting the high street on Black Friday, with over half now favouring internet convenience over setting foot in town. So, what can you do as an ecommerce business to ensure you get a sizeable slice of the lucrative Black Friday pie?

Well, a robust strategy that allows your brand to stand head and shoulders above the competition is a good start. In an age where businesses have never been so digital savvy, it's crucial your site benefits from the latest marketing and SEO practices to pique the interest of 'generation now'.

If you're stuck for what to do, look no further - we have it covered.

Spread the word

The festive shopping season seems to start earlier each year, and so it's well worth letting potential customers know sooner rather than later about your plans for Black Friday. You can tease your sales early by posting banners or blog posts in late October, which will help plant the seed.

You might want to draw up a list of key influencers and work closely with them to drum up a buzz about your brand and its sales drive. Popular bloggers can direct some serious traffic to your site, so collaborating with them can prove lucrative if your marketing budget allows - they want something in exchange for the coverage. Seek out influencers that align with your brand on Facebook, Instagram, or any other go-to social channel.

Take stock of the situation

Do you have some end-of-line items hanging around that you could do with getting rid of, or do you plan on attracting customers by offering the hottest new product at a killer price?

If you haven't done so already, carry out a stock check before you create your Black Friday sales list, and perhaps consider investing in an inventory management system if you have some spare budget.

Prepare your site

Receiving a huge surge in site traffic might sound like an ecommerce dream, but if your website is unable to handle so much attention, it could end in disaster. Testing your server load capacity is simple, and can be done free of charge on sites such as Load Impact.

If your site isn't running at optimum speed, there are plenty of ways you can tweak and improve it, including simplifying the design, reducing image sizes, enabling browser caching, and minimising HTTP requests.

Don't forget to check out your mobile site speed too, as it's likely that the majority of your traffic originates from a smartphone or tablet.

Smart marketing

As well as crafting striking visuals and copy to promote your sales, you need to get smart when it comes to spreading the word. Create a series of emails aimed at both existing and previous customers, teasing your campaign with a taste of what they can expect.

Reward loyal customers with special deals and early access to the sale, and let them know if their favourite products or brands are set to feature in your Black Friday sale. Sites such as Mail Chimp can help you build targeted email campaigns that have impact, as opposed to sending out generic emails to thousands of customers and hoping for the best.

Above and beyond service

Don't let all the hard work and effort of launching an unmissable Black Friday sale fall at the last hurdle - providing stellar customer service is key. Consider offering a live chat facility to assist your customers' buying journey, and make sure your staff are on stand-by with the right answers.

Prepare a list of responses to common questions you know you'll be asked and offer your customers hassle-free returns and replacements for damaged goods. Consider offering free shipping, which may work out costly to begin with, but can prove profitable later down the line.

Track your performance

Knowing how users interact with your site and discovering what works and what doesn't is key to your success. Knowing which content has assisted the most sales, who your audience is, and where your traffic comes from are just a few things you are able to track using the right software.

Google Analytics is the most popular insights platform around, and can provide you with a goldmine of valuable information to assist you in future campaigns. And, if Google isn't for you, there are several brilliant alternatives, including Kissmetrics and Piwik.

Monitor the competition

You should never take your eye off the competition, especially in the run-up to Black Friday and the festive period. Check out their websites, see what they're up to on social, and learn from what they're doing right (as well as where they may be going wrong).

Sign-up to receive their email updates and read their reviews on Trust Pilot, ensuring that you have a good understanding of the kind of user journey their customers can expect. Do they offer free delivery, or are they absolutely killing it with targeted email campaigns or irresistible offers? Having this information to hand will be invaluable when it comes to building a winning Black Friday strategy that's designed to leave your competition for dust!


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