Black Friday: last minute preparations for your business

Black Friday is once again upon us and whilst most businesses across the UK are set to go, we’ve included an important checklist to help your business make the most of the weekend ahead.

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Regardless of your opinion on its credibility, Black Friday is an incredibly important time for business owners across the UK. It brings a massive influx of revenue to businesses of all kinds, from cafes to vintage clothing stores to independent artists.

Forecasted spending for this year is set to increase massively compared to last year. Figures published by Statista predict that consumers are expected to spend around 9.42 billion British pounds over the weekend, 5.74 billion of which will be spent online.

These figures represent a massive opportunity for business owners everywhere, big or small. Whilst The Guardian reported many independent retailers have made the decision to boycott the event in a unified stand against ecommerce giants Amazon, the chances to capitalise on Black Friday’s popularity are for many, too good to miss.

So the question is, are you fully prepared to reap the Black Friday rewards? Have you marketed your online store correctly? Are your deals competitive enough to attract shoppers to your store?

Check out our list of preparations you should have made just in time for tomorrow, as well as some useful tips to make the most of Black Friday.

Your Black Friday checklist:

Identify what you want your business to achieve

It’s no use slapping any old discount on your stock and not having any quantifiable goal to measure your success. As this article from the UK Business Forum states, you should set yourself achievable objectives, such as:

  • Overall profit increase
  • Customer acquisition
  • Stock control and management (someone will surely buy those 10,000 fidget spinners from you!?)
  • Increased web traffic and site visits
  • Customer retention

If you have clear objectives, you can plan around them to make the best of the weekend ahead and ensure you achieve what you set out to do.

Also by setting yourself targets you can analyse the results and if your business has fallen short, consider the reasons why and be even better prepared for Christmas and next year.


Make full use of your AI chatbot (if you have one)

For those selling primarily online, an influx of customer enquiries can put a real strain on your customer support team. If you don’t answer questions regarding delivery times and returns procedures you could lose sales, and nobody wants that.

CEO of AI chatbot provider Futr, Andy Wilkins, has highlighted the importance of automating customer journeys through chatbots when selling across multiple channels.

“As soon as multiple channels are in play, customer service teams need to be fully prepared to handle enquiries and complaints across them all, with no drop in service quality. With opti-channel and omni-channel approaches, the potential to do this increases and customers expect to receive the appropriate messages from that channel. But manually managing that level of data is very difficult and legacy systems simply can’t keep up.”


Make your return policy clear (and consider making it more generous)

Jim Herbert, GM and Vice President for EMEA at BigCommerce, recently shared his pearls of wisdom when it comes to managing your ecommerce business during the Black Friday period.

“Black Friday can drive impulse buys, and with impulse buys come return requests. Therefore, having a clear return policy can be key to converting a sale. This is particularly critical this year when shipping delays might make consumers more cautious, especially when shopping overseas, or buying gifts for the holidays.

Given this, a more generous return window represents a simple way for small businesses to differentiate themselves, and potentially allay any concerns consumers might have about their ability to return an item if they change their mind.”


Get your back-office processes in order

This weekend is going to be hectic, and the fact it is the end of the month (typically payroll and accounting time) isn’t going to make things any easier.

Be sure that you are organised, and that cashflow planning, expenses tracking and other outgoings, invoices and receipts are all up to date, accurately recorded and finalised so you can focus on processing sales and supporting your employees and customers.


Take full advantage of integrations and automation tools

There is no denying that this year’s Black Friday is going to be particularly difficult for retailers across the UK as they face supply chain distribution issues and staff shortages.

Making your life easier is integral to a successful Black Friday weekend, for your sanity and for your business as a whole. Do this by making the most of the automation tools and integrations at your disposal.

For example, if you’ve got a SaaS platform like Zendesk, make the most of its CX tools and let your customers know via text or email about discounted products, refund processes, delivery delays and opening hours. This frees up your customer support team to focus on the more complex customer enquiries.


Consider offering something the big players can’t

Because of the size of your business, you may not be able to offer the level of discount some of the bigger brands can.

But fear not, there are other ways to attract customers, such as by offering:

  • Complimentary gift wrapping service
  • A free surprise treat
  • Double loyalty points
  • Handwritten thank you messages
  • Customer competitions
Offering further advice, Lee Murphy, managing director at The Accountancy Partnership, said:

“Offer customers an incentive to buy from your small business. This may be a discount, but can also take the form of a complimentary gift wrapping service, a free surprise treat or double loyalty points.

To get the most out of Black Friday, customers need to know about offers. An advance buzz should have been created through social media and email marketing. Look at how other small businesses create social media engagement for the day and schedule content in advance as you’ll likely be busy on the day.

Operationally, Black Friday can be a challenge. Make sure discount codes are set up and ready to go and that all employees in the business know how to use the system to avoid hassle and disgruntled customers if they can’t get their discount.”

Ross has been writing for Startups since May 2021, specialising in sustainable business and telephone systems. He also runs the successful entrepreneur's section of the website.

He's previously written for Conde Nast Traveller and the NME and is passionate about music, sustainability, and travelling. Follow him on his Twitter - @startupsross for helpful business tips.

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