5 Tips to avoid Black Friday frenzy

With UK consumers predicted to spend in excess of £1 billion on Black Friday – which falls on November 27th – it’s easy to see why retailers are keen to capitalise on this, but the reality is that running a pre-Christmas flash sale just because everybody else is could do your business more harm than good.

Indeed, research shows that 70 per cent of UK consumers are NOT planning to make a purchase on either of these two days. Simply Plastic Cards – part of the Nitecrest Group of companies – asked a total of more than 2,250 people what they thought of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday phenomena, and it’s clear that many could do without the hassle.

More than two-thirds of consumers who took part in the survey also confirmed that they wouldn’t sign up for a loyalty scheme just to get their hands on extra Black Friday/Cyber Monday discounts. It goes to show that while loyalty schemes can be hugely successful for businesses, they shouldn’t necessarily use the Black Friday sales to swell membership numbers.

Last year, the media highlighted numerous examples of public disorder as shoppers fought over discounted goods. Police Forces across the country have now warned store owners that they must have stringent security measures in place if they plan to run a similar sale in 2015.

In addition to this, the logistics of launching a one-off sale can be too much for many smaller retailers to handle. The Royal Mail recently reported that almost half of SMEs admitted that they struggled to cope with a spike in website traffic during Black Friday 2014.

Ronnie Hart, Managing Director of Simply Plastic Cards, explained that although flash sales can prove to be profitable for a lot of businesses at this time of year, companies shouldn’t just run them for the sake of it.

“It’s crucial that smaller businesses have a clear strategy in place before they commit to a Black Friday or Cyber Monday campaign,” he commented.

“Naturally, if your competitors are doing something, you’ll feel compelled to follow suit, but our research shows that these popular sales days aren’t the be all and end all for retailers. If you attempt to run a big sale, but haven’t got the necessary infrastructure in place to deal with increased web traffic and a spike in deliveries/returns, you could end up doing your reputation more harm than good.”

Know your strategy

Whatever you plan to do, you must approach Black Friday/Cyber Monday with a well formulated plan. Here is a quick checklist to remember before the sales begin.

  1.   Do some competitor research

Determine whether your close competitors are joining in with the sales, because if you are the only small retailer floating in an ocean of large companies with huge discounts then you may find yourself sinking quickly. Don’t try and keep up with the big competitors, but gauge what your equal-sized competitors are up to. Again, it’s important to stress that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to running a flash sale, and you should only do it if you are confident that you have the resource and it will have a positive impact on results.

2.    Publicly state what side you are on

Make sure consumers know whether you are participating in the sales or not, confirm this with posters and online marketing to avoid confusion on the days and set an official time for the sales to start and finish. Like our survey showed, only a small minority of people would look negatively upon a company that doesn’t offer Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals. As long as you’re transparent with your customers, you’ll be fine.

3. Be omniscient

Know everything about your business, including stock, sales forecasts, budget, deliveries and other important aspects to ensure that you stay on top of the important things and avoid chaos.

4. Optimise your website

Online and mobile Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales are predicted to be bigger than ever. Ensure that your website and mobile app can handle the traffic and discover any bugs before your customers do.

5. Gain insights

If you are intent on running a flash sale, make sure you track key performance metrics so that you can improve your offering in future years. Whether you like it or not, it looks like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are here to stay. While you might be new to the whole concept in 2015, it’s vital that you learn from any mistakes that you make so that things run much smoother in years to come. By collecting and closely analysing data, you’ll also be able to see whether or not the entire thing was actually worth it once the dust has settled.