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Like everything else in 2020, Black Friday won’t look the same.
The day after Thanksgiving is the holiday shopping experience that typically brings the most in-person crowds, with 78 percent of retailers planning to be open this year, according to the National Retail Federation. Different is the theme this year, since pandemic shopping behaviors will vary quite a bit.
The Visa Back to Business Study found that almost half of consumers are planning to shop mostly in-person during the holidays, 26 percent are planning on shopping mostly online, and another 26 percent plan to do a mix of both.
But with nearly one in seven business owners not feeling ready for the increase in holiday sales, rethinking the typical Black Friday experience is a must. These strategies can help you get the most out of Black Friday 2020.
Get creative with the date
Black Friday doesn’t always have to happen right after Thanksgiving. By extending Black Friday across multiple days, weeks, or even months, you can prevent a surge of customers, while creating more opportunities for shoppers to take advantage of your Black Friday sales and discounts.
Another creative approach is to give customers a chance to pick their exclusive day-of Black Friday discounts. This can be achieved by offering discount codes that customers can use any day throughout the month, either single-use or multi-use. Similar to stretching out the date, this tactic allows you to serve customers across multiple days, enable social distancing if you have a physical location, and limit the strain on your inventory and holiday staff, regardless of how you sell.
Build an outdoor shopping experience
Selling anywhere allows you to sell more. Consider taking a cue from businesses moving outside, and take your 2020 Black Friday experience outside. Setting up a pop-up can help with social distancing while still creating a festive outdoor market-type experience.
Tents, canopies, and foldable tables can help you mark off your pop-up shopping area, while heat lamps can make the experience more comfortable during cold winter weather. You may also want to limit your evening hours and stay open during the warmest parts of the day, to make it easier for customers to stay outside while shopping. Check to see if you need any special permits or permissions in your neighborhood before making your move.
Take it online
One in five business owners are planning on digitizing parts of their business to prep for the holidays. That makes preparing for Black Friday an exciting and unique opportunity to try new things this year.
If you’re a brick-and-mortar business looking to sell online, this is your moment to give it a try, especially since eCommerce isn’t going anywhere soon. Going online will give customers a new way to experience your business. You could set up an online store, try out appointment-based shopping, sell on Instagram or Facebook, or experiment with new pickup and delivery methods, like curbside pickup and local delivery.
If you already have an online store, focus on creating a memorable online holiday shopping experience. This can include online-only deals, virtual holiday window displays, and gift guides.
You can learn more about the upcoming holiday season in our eBook, Humanizing the Holidays: A Guide to Holiday Selling in 2020.
Prepare your inventory
You’ll want to move as much excess inventory as possible, while making sure not to clutter your store layout. By selling online, and keeping a limited amount of stock on the floor, you can clear out space and create a more socially-distanced store experience. For quicker in-store fulfillment, you can instruct associates to grab items from a storage space that’s located close to your checkout areas.
By keeping only the most popular items out on the floor, it will increase the odds of you making a sale. To identify your high performers, check your POS reports during the current timeframe and last year’s holiday season.
If you have a backroom or other space to store inventory, you can also offer shipping directly from your store. Experiment with other fulfillment methods too, like BOPIS, which stands for “buy online, pick up in-store.” Offering methods like BOPIS can give you more immediate control over your inventory, which may be necessary if you’re having difficulties ordering certain products.
Offer discounts to the early birds
Research from Google found that 70 percent of consumers are planning on kicking off their holiday shopping earlier to avoid crowds. To move inventory earlier in the season, start your holiday deals earlier than normal. It could be flash sales on Instagram Stories that start now, or themed promotional weeks on your online store.
Additionally, unpredictable customer demand and supply chain disruptions means that shipping delays are now an expected part of the 2020 holiday season. Incentivize the shoppers who buy early by offering discounts for those who select longer shipping windows. Don’t forget to alert customers to these promotions through your social channels or email marketing.
Black Friday 2020 is a whole new game. People are still going to give gifts, but the way they get them is going to look different. Stay competitive by investing in your online store, streamlining your in-store operations, and offering multiple ways for customers to buy from you this unusual holiday season.