October is a milestone month for retailers. Consumers anxiously wait for Columbus Day sales, Halloween merchandise, and pumpkin spice scents and flavors. It’s also the time when about one-fourth of U.S consumers begin their holiday shopping, according to a 2019 Facebook survey. With all of the consumer activity in October, it creates an excellent opportunity for new merchants to prepare for their first Black Friday sale. 

Although you have probably been studying trends, customer data, and store performance for months to anticipate what your customers will be looking for this holiday season, there’s more to a successful Black Friday than having the right merchandise on the shelves. 

Here are six tips for how to prepare for Black Friday to help you maximize sales and build customer relationships that will benefit your business all year long.

1. Get the extra help you need. 

Your customers won’t want to spend time in line on the busiest shopping day of the year, especially when the clock will be ticking on limited-time promotions. Ensure you will have enough staff on hand to handle the high volume of Black Friday traffic. Consider hiring seasonal help to cover extended hours and provide top-notch customer experiences.  

2. Evaluate processes for speed and efficiency.

October events and promotions are a good time to evaluate your operation’s efficiency. Are sales associates and cashiers able to quickly handle customer requests, complete payment transactions, manage returns, and restock inventory? Your point of sale system (POS system) provider can provide you with tips that can save time and improve productivity, which are essential during the busy holiday shopping season.  

3. Train your staff well.

October is also a great time to train — or retrain — your staff and seasonal help on how to prepare for Black Friday. Make sure your team has all the tools and support it needs to provide fast, efficient service and execute the plans you’ve made for the day’s events and special promotions. Also, find ways for your team to upsell and cross-sell so you can maximize revenues.

4. Prepare for e-commerce and mobile shoppers.

The majority of consumers use multiple channels on their shopping journeys. In 2018, Black Friday online sales totaled $6.22 billion. That’s an increase of 23.6 percent from the previous year. If the trend continues, even more consumers will be using their smartphones while they shop in brick-and-mortar stores or look for the gift items they want from their homes using PCs or laptops. Make sure you have an online presence and, furthermore, that your website is easy to navigate and online payment is quick and easy. Also make sure your website is mobile-friendly for shoppers browsing on their phones. October is also a good time to talk to your IT service provider to ensure your website hosting can handle a higher volume of traffic. Waiting until problems start to occur on Black Friday will probably be too late to address those issues. 

5. Create excitement and an engaging atmosphere.

Even if your customers aren’t ready to make holiday purchases, October is a good time to start building excitement for the promotions you’ll be running in the coming months. Hold previews, offer special holiday loyalty rewards, and maybe even consider gamifying promotions. Learn as much as you can about your customers and what will capture their attention and their holiday spending dollars. 

6. Determine the best way to deliver offers. 

Will you be advertising Black Friday deals in print, radio or television? Or do you have more success reaching your customers via, email or social media? You may also consider using your loyalty rewards program to encourage VIP customers to stop in on Black Friday for exclusive rewards. The best strategy may be using a combination of media channels. Find the best way to keep your Black Friday promotions on the minds of your customers and on their “can’t miss” list. 

It’s Not Too Early to Start Thinking About Next Year

If it’s your first holiday shopping season, you don’t have historical data to help guide your decisions. You can, however, collect that data that will help you plan for next year. While you’re working hard to make this holiday season a success, take time to evaluate your operations and promotions so Black Friday next year can be even more successful. 

For help making the most of Black Friday and other opportunities to advance your business, contact PlazSales

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