With the holiday season ramping up, retailers across the country are getting into gear for their busiest time. According to the Small Retailer Report, a September 2023 American Express survey of 500 small-business retail decision makers with between five and 500 employees, 48% of businesses say they plan to participate in Black Friday, while 39% plan to participate in Cyber Monday. Additionally, the report found 52% of U.S. adults usually make purchases on Black Friday, while 47% do on Cyber Monday.
A last-minute strategy simply won’t serve you as well as one that you’ve mapped out ahead of time.
Here are seven errors you can avoid when planning for these major shopping holidays.
1. Focusing on only one date.
Which is better, Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Both days can present significant opportunities for brick-and-mortar and online sales. You can plan ahead to have a visible presence on both in order to catch shoppers in November – the month when most U.S. adults do their holiday shopping.
2. Getting inventory estimates wrong.
Understanding the likely demand for your business on Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be key to success. Nailing your product-market mix for Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions can be a crucial piece. You can research your market, understand the competition, and draw on your knowledge of sales at other times of year to come up with confident estimates to fulfill demand. Sometimes it can be better to focus on a handful of hero items rather than attempting to provide a wide range of stock for special pricing on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
3. Overlooking the importance of search engine optimization.
In a competitive retail landscape, it can be essential for small businesses to prioritize search engine optimization (SEO). Even if you’re selling in a brick-and-mortar store, shoppers will likely search online to find you. That’s why it’s essential to keep your search terms up to date, with a focus on seasonal trends and keywords such as “Black Friday sales” or “Cyber Monday event.” You can make sure your digital channels are updated with all of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday information shoppers might be looking for.
4. Failing to plan ahead.
What day is Black Friday? These days, many retailers would say it’s more than just the day after Thanksgiving, with news of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals often dropping long before the actual days. Using digital promotion channels like email and social media well in advance to flag upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions can help to drive shoppers to your business on the big days. Letting them know just a day or so ahead of time may be too late, especially in a season where many shoppers plan their budgets meticulously around big purchases.
5. Failing to stand out from other businesses.
For Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it can be crucial to get your business to stand out. If you can’t compete with the deep discounts of the biggest retailers, you can consider other ways to offer a distinctive shopping experience. For example, you can focus on the most special items you know draw shoppers to your store or offer unique products exclusively available on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. You might consider special add-ons, like letting shoppers personalize gift purchases. For brick-and-mortar retailers, creating an inviting atmosphere in-store (think free snacks) can make a difference. If you’re selling online, consider ways you can make your shop sparkle for the season, such as updating images, copy, and videos.
6. Failing to look beyond typical categories.
Many adult consumers prefer experiential gifts over things that come wrapped neatly in a box. If your business deals in services, Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be optimal opportunities to run promotions. Holiday promotions also can apply to things people simply want to buy for themselves at the end of the year, from home-cleaning services to prepare for holiday guests to vacation packages for the new year.
7. Overlooking other shopping holidays.
It can be easy to get caught up in the buzz around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But there's also Small Business Saturday, which happens the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and it can be a special opportunity for small businesses (online and off) to make a splash. If you’re tired of competing with big-box retailers, creating a special campaign and promotions for Small Business Saturday could be a major win. Twenty three percent of U.S. adults say they shop on that day, with more of those consumers preferring to shop in-person than online.
Avoiding these mistakes and creating a robust retail strategy ahead of time can help you win when it comes to Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions.
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