Even though our minds may be in the summer groove, we need to make room for the Black Friday strategies to start forming. When the long lines of customers are waiting patiently at your door, make sure you’re ready to satisfy. Here are 5 ways to ensure you have a successful holiday season.
1. Generate FOMO
Otherwise known as the “fear of missing out,” FOMO can take a serious toll of customers – especially during the holidays. Whether it’s an “act now” sale or you’re the only store to carry that latest style, trend, or product, your prospective holiday clientele will be rushing for your door.
Try adding email marketing campaigns that have countdowns because as big as Black Friday is for your business, it might be even bigger for a holiday deal-hungry shopper. When they’ve got a list to check twice, making sure they’ve got the perfect gift for every loved one, they’ll be looking to capitalize on savings.
Door-crasher deals are also a great way to not only move inventory you’d prefer to clear from your store, but it also rewards the customers who wake up early to be first in line. Capping the number of items available (or sold at a pre-disclosed discounted amount) generates buzz and lets shoppers know what they can expect, day of. Almost one-quarter of all Black Friday shoppers are willing to camp out in front of a store if they’ve been convinced they need what the store is offering. And if you can capture that interest, that’s a long line of customers waiting to spend money with your business.
Another easily implemented, FOMO-inducing tactic is to use what you already know; you’ve got products that customers love. The power of word of mouth is well-known and this is the perfect time to put your best-sellers front and center. It’s likely that either your online review process or your social media platform has some good, if not great, things to say so put them at the forefront of your campaign to get sales flowing!
2. Go Eco-Friendly
It’s clear that environmentalism isn’t a fad. Even consumers who don’t consider themselves die-hard environmentally friendly shoppers are still likely to make an earth-conscious choice if it’s easy for them to do. With all the paper and plastic frenzy that happens during the holidays, you can use sustainable practices to stand out from the crowd. Forego the direct mailers and push an in-your-face (but valuable) social media campaign or send fun, eyecatching sales emails to the inboxes of your hottest leads.
User-generated content (UGC) is becoming a more highly utilized form of content curation for businesses and while it doesn’t seem like an environmentally-driven initiative at first glance, if you think about it, it checks all the sustainable boxes; product users are doing the work for you by generating the copy and creative in a post and their words will resonate with your audience because, well, they are your audience. You’ll be saving the planet and marketing dollars all in one swing! Businesses have even gone one step further and actively asked for UGC by promoting seasonal hashtags. Users then post using that hashtag and voila! It’s like your own curated feed of posts to market away.
3. Build Suspense By Starting Early
Starting now seems like a no-brainer hey? But, as you know all too well, retail is busy and things that aren’t immediate become “when I get to them” type tasks. Which is okay if you’re fine with spending a lot (A LOT) of money in Q4 to rise above the marketing noise. But if you think about the companies who make a big splash in the holiday season (Elf Yourself by Office Depot, the Red Cup campaign by Starbucks, the annual, highly-anticipated John Lewis advertisement) they’re usually put out by companies with massive budgets and behind the scenes, you can bet that these marketing teams have started far before the sun starts to set on Q3.
Remember back to every time you're in a big-box or wholesale store towards the early end of summer. The spooky Halloween decorations are out and there are a few isles lined with ribbons and garlands for customers to purchase. As a consumer, you may have thought "holiday stuff already?!" as you lick your ice cream cone because, well, it's summer. But as a retailer it just makes sense. The earlier you can establish your store as the "go-to" for all things holiday will mean that even when competing businesses start to flood the airwaves with their message, you will still be top-of-mind.
4. Ensure Smooth Sailing Behind the Scenes
Black Friday is all about the flash but without any substance, your relationship with your customers can be ruined. Slow transactions, theft, fraud, returns, processes that don’t work, etc. are common culprits to the breakdown of positive in-store experiences. While this may not necessarily be a strategy you haven’t thought of, it might be something you haven’t fully dug into.
Imagine this: A starry-eyed shopper goes to bed on Black Friday eve, dreaming of that one special thing they want from your store—Product X. When they arrive in the morning, they realize that other deal-hungry shoppers have snapped up all of Product X and there is no more in stock. They look for an associate to see if there are any Product Xs online that they could order, to no avail. So, the customer settles for a similar product and makes their way to the checkout. The line is slow-moving as the point-of-sale systems are working overtime to process the increased number of transactions. After what seems like hours of patiently waiting, the shopper is at the front, product in hand and waiting to pay, when the worst happens—the payment system crashes. It seems that the influx of purchases has overwhelmed the modest POS which means the once eager, enthusiastic shopper is leaving with empty hands and a heavy heart.
While this may sound like a crocodile tear, woe-filled tale, it’s not the stuff of fairytales. Situations like this are reported every holiday season and can ruin a customer’s perception of your store. Not only that, but all of these unfortunate happenings could have been avoided using:
- Accurate and intelligent inventory management processes
- In-store fulfillment drop ship solutions
- Appropriate staffing levels for peak store hours
- Integrated payment systems that work in congruence with a POS
- A robust point-of-sale solution that houses features of a retail management system that is immune to lag-time and crashes due to overwhelming transaction numbers
5. Help Customers Make the Most of Their Order
While this may sound like a greedy thing to do during the holidays, maximizing the value of every order isn’t only for the benefit of your business; it also helps customers optimize the sales opportunities available during the most highly-discounted time of the year. This A Better Lemonade Stand article outlines three ways retailers can ensure they get the most value out of a transaction: bundling, upselling, and cross-selling.
Bundling is the art of pairing complementary solutions at a discounted price that would provide an added value to the consumer if purchased together; think a new phone with a protective case or new boots with protective water sealant. Both great when purchased apart but the customer will be happy in the long run that they bought them together. That’s a higher purchase value for your customer and increased revenue for your business.
Upselling means giving the customer the option of a higher-priced option that will not only mean a higher margin for you, but may also provide them with a better experience in the long run. This could be upscaling to a better microwave or buying four plates instead of one. With the amazing deals your store will be offering come Black Friday, the customer will be able to splurge on that higher transaction price since they’re already saving money off the regular-priced sticker.
The cross-sell is when associates “encourage customers to add more to their cart by showing them products that work well [together].” Similar to bundling, cross-selling empowers that added-value purchase without your store having to create pre-existing bundles or having an infinite number of bundle combinations.
And there you have it. It may all seem like common sense, but remember; when the holiday rush hits, you'll have a million and one things on your mind. Preparing now means you can chose the Black Friday strategy that best supports your business's goals and ensures you're rolling into 2020 in the black.
Preparing for Black Friday takes a lot of resources and trying to navigate your way through all the noise can be tough. We've made it easy! Check out our path to the holidays and how you can implement retail technologies that won't cause a headache.