Black Friday — the Friday after Thanksgiving and the traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season — is full of opportunities for retailers to fatten the bottom line. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), as many as 147 million U.S. consumers will shop that day, which falls on November 24 this year.
Spending is expected to reach $682 billion, up by 4 percent from last year’s total of $655.8 billion. However, making the most out of Black Friday 2017, increasing profits, and ensuring that operations run as smoothly as possible requires preparation. Here are four tips to get ready for the big day:
1. Gear up early
Many consumers (some 40 percent, according to NRF research) start their holiday shopping as early as October. The earlier you start your own preparations for the holiday, the better. This means everything from deciding what deals to offer on Black Friday 2017 and for how long they’ll be in effect, to devising your marketing strategy. It also means making contingency plans — for example, what you’ll do in case of a website crash or delayed merchandise shipment. Speaking of websites, test yours ahead of time to ensure that the host server can handle spikes in online traffic. Tools like LoadImpact.com and Blitz.io allow you to do this.
2. Plan and organize sales and advertising
Assess your inventory and finalize details of your sales now instead of at the last possible moment. Set prices for each item and end dates for special deals. Then, you won’t be forced to scramble as Thanksgiving draws closer — and possibly sacrifice sales as a result. Once you know the details of your plans for Black Friday 2017, develop your advertising, social media, and promotional marketing strategy. Determine where you want to run ads, and be certain that they include the detailed sales and pricing information customers need when planning their holiday shopping. Leverage social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Send out email blasts and talk up your sale in your email newsletter, if you have one. But however you spread the word, be sure your message tells customers why they should shop at your store for holiday gifts.
3. Get ready for increased merchandise demand
If you’ve followed the advice outlined above, your store will probably be inundated with holiday shoppers. Make sure you have enough stock on hand to accommodate increased demand. To do this, access your point of sale (POS) data for the holiday period last year. Reviewing those figures will give you a good idea of what your inventory counts for Black Friday 2017 should look like. Additionally, ask yourself what the hottest new items in your retail category are, and be certain to have sufficient quantities of these items on your shelves.
4. Have adequate human resources
You’ll need more temporary and seasonal staff to offer customers the information they need and help them to complete their purchases quickly and easily. Train new employees so they are just as prepared as current staff to do their job. However, assign at least a few of your most experienced staff members to the sales floor to assist shoppers and provide stellar customer service.
Black Friday is one of the most important shopping days of the whole retail year. Gear up for it now, and you’ll have much to be thankful for later.