When should Black Friday start and finish in e-commerce?

Black Friday is a great opportunity to increase sales and de-seasonalize Christmas purchases, as long as you keep the following advice in mind when managing it.

They say that Black Friday got its name because shops were able to convert figures in the red (losses) into black (profits), thanks to the discounts and promotions on the last Friday of November. I’m not sure whether it’s true, but I am convinced of one thing: looking at the erratic way that some e-commerce businesses manage this important campaign, it’s certain that they’re letting many opportunities to capture new clients get away.

That’s why it was a pleasure to talk about this matter with Xavier Nieto, founder of Aventuramania.com and Telescopiomania.com, in the webinar “How to sell more on Black Friday”, held as part of the cycle for entrepreneurs that PrestaShop organized as Brand Ambassador.

Amongst other things, we discussed when Black Friday should start and finish, what type of offers and promotions work best, how to announce them to clients, which type of buyer we should address and many other interesting topics. You could tell that Xavier Nieto, apart from being an entrepreneur, is a greatspecialist in digital marketing and a seasoned salesman when it comes to this Black Friday thing.

A campaign that, until a few years ago, didn’t even exist in Europe!

I recommend that you take a moment to watch the full video of the talk on tips for Black Friday that we had with Xavier, because you’re certain to find useful recommendations for your business. Below, I sum up some keys to selling more on Black Friday.

Start on Thursday and don’t continue past Tuesday

Traditionally, Black Friday was the day of discounts for physical shops, and Cyber Monday was dedicated to sales at offline shops. But now this distinction is a bit outdated starting in the United States, where Black Friday originated, and in countries like Spain, Cyber Monday never really caught on. The trend is more about offering promotions through the whole week, or even for longer.

As Xavier Nieto summarizes in the webinar: “When we were born in 2012, buying was concentrated on the Friday and was more about impulse buys. Now, Black Friday is longer and more planned, but it is also more spaced out over the week.” Nevertheless, if we extend it too much, it might lose its effect. That’s why it’s ideal to start a bit before, on Thursday at midday, to surprise customers, and extend it to the following Tuesday to be able to include the whole weekend.

Understand how customers shop on Black Friday

Customers’ behaviour on Black Friday is more complex than we might imagine. It’s not limited to accessing a website and buying if there are offers. As we saw on the webinar, there are 3 keys:

  1. Planning: 84% of customers plan their purchases on Black Friday.
  2. Comparison: many people compare prices with other online shops, and retail prices.
  3. Mobile: mobile phones are involved in 50% of purchases made on Black Friday.

Hang on! We said “involved in”, not that the purchases are necessarily made on mobile phones. As Xavier explains, “Mobile traffic is growing, but what we are detecting is that many people use mobile devices to enquire about the product, and then they finalize the purchase on their computer.” This is a very interesting matter, which we actually tackled in another webinar: “From e-commerce to m-commerce”.

Communication with existing clients and advertising for new ones

On Black Friday, we have to distinguish between two categories of customer: the existing and the new ones.

Existing customers already know the shop and are waiting for offers. As Xavier Nieto confirms, “People ask us when we’re going to launch Black Friday. We don’t give clues, but there are plenty of expectations.” For this type of customer, what works best is communication via newsletters or social networks, as well as setting the scene at the shop with banners and other graphic resources.

On the other hand, we have new customers, who have never shopped at the store, and who are being fought over. “On Black Friday, you’re not only competing with other shops selling the same thing, but also with any other present that the consumer may choose instead of your product: some shoes, a mobile phone, etc.,” the founder of Aventuramania.com reminds us. How do we reach these customers? They won’t access our online store alone because they don’t know it, therefore we have to attract them with resources such as search engine advertising, adverts on social networks, Google Shopping, etc.

Objective: increase the average purchase total

On Black Friday, not only do we have to sell, we also have to earn money. That’s why we can’t focus on offers on low value products. Instead, the objective has to be to increase the average value of the shopping basket. In this sense, high-volume promotions are recommendable, with offers on higher-price products or product packs.

Xavier Nieto gives a very apt example: “With low turnover products, we try to promote cross-selling or complementary sales. For example, if the client buys a telescope, we offer to add other accessories such as a case, more lenses, etc.”

Personally, I’m a fan of cross-selling at check-out, in other words, trying to get customers to add more products to their basket just before paying. This comes from my experience in the world of supermarkets. You’d be surprised how much turnover the chewing gum you find by the check-out queue generates! In the online world, we have to try to do the same: tempt customers so they add more items when it comes to payment.

A satisfied customer is a lifelong customer

In the period from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, 3.5 million shipments will be made in Spain, according to the association UNO. Amazon, Correos (the Spanish postal service) and MediaMarkt have already warned that there may be delays. Smaller e-commerce businesses won’t escape this either. It’s necessary to prepare to face this challenge with formulas such as pre-prepared orders, extra staff, longer hours or even outsourcing logistics.

Providing poor service is not an option if we want to make the most of Black Friday to expand our client base. As Xavier Nieto from Telescopiomania.com says, “You shouldn’t think that a 50-euro customer is less important than a 1000-euro customer. If you treat the 50-euro customer well and you have made a good impression, they may become a 1000-euro customer the day of tomorrow.”

And I would add this day of tomorrow might be as soon as Christmas, which is just around the corner and is the other essential sales campaign for e-commerce.

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