The way people shop just never stops changing. Whereas once we thought of Black Friday as 24 hours of retail madness, it’s now become an extended shopping holiday that includes Sofa Sunday, Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday — the last of which you can get involved in, and which Square supports each year. It doesn’t matter if you’re an e-commerce-only or brick-and-mortar business, there’s good reason to ask whether there’s any real difference between these days. It’s certainly something your customers are wondering, with Google searches for “Black Friday vs Cyber Monday” “which is better black friday or cyber monday” and “is cyber monday as good as black friday” getting top hits in the lead-up.
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Is Cyber Monday better than Black Friday?
There used to be distinct differences in people’s shopping habits between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but the gap is closing. Online is fast becoming the go-to for deal-hunters on both days. Last year in fact, online sales for Black Friday were up 11.7% from 2016, whilst high street footfall figures dropped 3.6%.
In theory, this trend means that there’s less of a need to organise a separate in-store sales day and an online one. That means easier logistics, less preparation work for you and your staff and a more integrated opportunity to drive sales wherever your customers are.
But why the trend towards online?
It’s less stressful.
Without crowds to battle, poorly stocked aisles to browse or a last bus to catch home, online shopping provides a calmer experience for customers. With the freedom to browse at their own pace, they can leisurely fill their shopping baskets and even come back for more later.
Online, customers can have multiple browser tabs open and buy products in quick succession from the comfort of their sofa or the convenience of their office. There’s no need to physically move from place to place, so more can be bought in less time. For businesses too, there’s no need to make the extra in-store preparations such as putting more stock and staff out on the floor.
Customers find better deals.
With lower overheads, web-only businesses can provide products and services at a lower price point. When you add Black Friday discounts to inventory that’s already more affordable, the potential savings for customers can be huge.
The idea of two distinct discount shopping days is also changing. Amazon is well known for running deals well beyond the weekend, coining the phrase “Black Friday And Cyber Monday And The Week Before And After And A Bit More If You’re Amazon”. And other companies like Ryanair and Urban Decay have followed suit. For small businesses, this can certainly take the heat off and allow you to prepare and run promotions at your own pace rather than focusing all your efforts on one or two days.
How to prepare
Retailers, coffee shops, gyms and even service providers like home decorators can drive extra sales through this discount shopping period. All you need is a website that lets you take payments and a plan to make sure people know you’re getting involved. Here are some ideas to start your preparations:
Get set up online
If you don’t already have an online store, this is where to start. Sites like Wix, Weebly and BigCommerce make it easy to drag and drop features, choose themes and connect your payments provider so you can start selling fast.
Market nationally and globally
One of the joys of online is that it has no borders. Whilst you might not normally have the budget or incentive to advertise beyond your local area, the pre-Black Friday period is a time to think big. Tweak your ad targeting and craft some new messages to boost sales on a national or even global scale.
Think beyond discounts
We typically associate Black Friday and Cyber Monday with slashed prices, but you can try seeing this instead as a period where people simply look for better value. This opens up a whole range of options. Coffee shops might offer free in-store drinks when customers purchase digital gift cards online. And if you’re an ethical retailer with a passionately green audience, you could donate a percentage of every transaction made during the Black Friday week to an environmental cause. The more unusual your offer, the more strength it has to be noticed through all the noise.
Mobilise your customer support
If your website breaks or you get inundated with customer phone calls, what’s your backup plan? As well as considering extra support staff, you might invest in an online chat system like Intercom or invite customers to send their questions via social media. The quicker you can respond to people’s queries, the less likely they are to close the tab you’re in and move on to someone else.