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How to prepare for Black Friday

Business · 4 min read

Prepare your e-commerce business for Black Friday

There’s just a couple of weeks left until the biggest day of the year for most e-commerce businesses – Black Friday. This year’s sales bonanza will be held on 26 November. If you haven’t fully prepared yet, don’t panic, because we have all the tips to help your business prepare for Black Friday and cash in.

Black Friday 2020 was big business. Amidst the pandemic and store closures, shoppers spent US$9 billion online, a 21% rise on the previous year, making it the highest individual day for e-commerce sales up to that point1. As for Black Friday 2021, sales are forecast to be even bigger2.

Now for the bad news: the total cart abandonment rate amongst Black Friday shoppers last year was 76.63%3. Customers unhappy with part of their shopping experience – whether it’s a slow-loading checkout page or an unexpected delivery charge – have no hesitancies in abandoning their purchases altogether. If you want to cash in on every sales opportunity this Black Friday – and stay ahead of competitors – you’ll need to sharpen up your e-commerce game. Read on for our top tips.

Prepare for supply chain disruptions

It’s a shame to start on a negative note but the reality is it’s a tricky time for global supply chains. Covid-19 and worldwide shortages of shipping containers and truck drivers are causing order backlogs and delivery delays for businesses. As we approach the busy shopping season, these pressures are only going to increase, so it’s essential to be prepared for disruptions and plan accordingly.

One thing you should absolutely be doing is carefully planning which products you’re going to promote on Black Friday. It’s a great opportunity to shift old stock that’s taking up warehouse space, rather than relying on slow supply chains to bring new stock in. Keep a close watch on your inventory – if something sells out, you can quickly switch to push other products

Optimize your e-commerce website

Ahead of the rush, it’s time to give your website a quick health check to ensure it will meet customers’ expectations. Does it have the capability to manage a surge in traffic without slowing the page loading speed? Is it user friendly with intuitive navigation and a powerful search bar to help customers find what they’re looking for? Are the product pages clearly designed with lots of photos and information? There’s lots to consider so check out our e-commerce website guide to tick off the essentials.

Prepare for Black Friday by spreading the word

You’re running a Black Friday flash sale? Great! Now you just need to ensure all your customers know. Spread the word on social media, SMS and email. And a top tip for the latter – email campaigns with “$ off” messages have the highest conversion rate at 14.8%4, so be sure to really shout about the price discounts you’re offering, including within the subject line.

Make sure you’re found

Competition will be fierce so it’s worth considering selling on an online marketplace to help your products be found by customers – especially when you consider that in the US, more product searches now start on Amazon5 than Google. Many of the leading marketplaces run their own Black Friday events to build buzz, maximizing your opportunity to connect with millions of buyers around the world. Check out our guide to the leading online marketplaces to help you pick the right one for your e-commerce business.

Reward your loyal customers…

Set up an email marketing campaign to send special Black Friday discount codes to customers who have purchased from you previously. Use engaging copy to thank them for supporting your business – customers appreciate personal touches, and this will make them feel valued.

…and keep new ones coming back for more.
Your Black Friday deals may attract new customers to your website so take the opportunity to build a relationship that will lead them to buy from you again. Add incentives that encourage them to sign up to your mailing list so that you can stay in touch and target them with new product releases or deals in the future.

Remember mobile

On Black Friday 2020, 7 out of 10 online shopping sessions were on mobile7, so now’s the time to check your e-commerce website is optimized for the small screen – luckily, we’ve got a dedicated guide to help you. If you also have a mobile app for your business, it’s time to give its functionality and features a polish – and it just so happens we’ve got a guide for that too.

Make it personal

According to Deloitte research, 46% of consumers prefer buying from brick-and-mortar stores due to the unique feeling they get8. If you want to entice these customers to shop with your online store instead, you’re going to have to make the experience personal.

Data analytics can help you put together product lists and recommendations for customers based on their previous shopping habits. Carefully choose the packaging you send your products out in – it needs to have the wow factor as customers unwrap their gifts, and as a final touch, include a card thanking them for their purchase(s) – extra points if you sign it by hand.

Checkout features are integral

Did you know that 91% of customers will leave a website if shipping isn’t free or fast enough?9 Consider if you can absorb the cost of free shipping elsewhere in your business – it’ll be worth it if it secures you extra sales. Remember during your Black Friday planning to offer multiple payment options at checkout too.

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International shipping – the perfect time to expand

Currently, of the world's 195 countries, it’s estimated that approximately 50-60% “celebrate” Black Friday in some form or another10, so it’s the ideal time for you to think about shipping internationally if you don’t already do so. DHL Express can help your business sell cross-border, taking care of all the hassle around customs regulations, duties and taxes, so that your customers receive their orders without delay.

Ensure your fulfillment network is running like clockwork

Fulfillment is the engine of your business, so make sure it’s perfectly tuned. From picking, packing and labelling, to knowing the price of a shipment to almost anywhere in the world, a well-oiled fulfilment operation is what will ensure all orders are dispatched on time and in perfect condition. Disappointed customers won’t return.

Be ready for returns

E-commerce returns rates are around 30% worldwide11, so you’re likely to have some, no matter how great your product is. Have a good returns policy in place and state it clearly on your website – 67% of shoppers check a business’ returns policy before committing to a purchase12.

And lastly, the fun doesn’t stop after Black Friday – there’s also Cyber Monday and Christmas to think about too. Here are some more tips to help you manage the peak holiday shopping season. And from all at DHL Express, we wish you a very merry festive sales period.

1 - Ecommerce Guide, accessed October 2021

2 - The Black Friday 2021 Forecast, Channable, September 2021

3 - SaleCycle 2021, October 2021

4 - Data Axle, moosend, October 2021

5 - Econsultancy, July 2020

6 - Statista, published October 2021

7 - SaleCycle 2021, October 2021

8 - 2020 Deloitte pre-Thanksgiving pulse survey, Deloitte, November 2020

9 - Pitney Bowes Global eCommerce Study, ShipperHQ, February 2019

10 - Jungle Scout, November 2019

11 & 12 - Invespcro, 2020

Anna Thompson
Anna Thompson Discover content team

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