UK’s billion-pound Black Friday: Are you ready?

This year, Asda, the brand which brought Black Friday to the UK, has decided to forego Black Friday altogether. Scuffles at the cash tills and chaotic issues with deliveries lead them to change their mind about the benefits of the one day shopping spree.

It doesn’t look like any of the other big retailers are following their lead. In fact, according to predictions, Black Friday (November 27) and Cyber Monday (November 30) are set to break the billion-pound mark in sales for UK retailers.

The smaller independent retailers aren’t slow to pick up on this either. We work with 34,000 businesses in more than 100 countries and we’ve witnessed our clients increasing sales by an average of 169 per cent during Black Friday. How do they do it without getting swamped? You need a good plan and a clear head.

(1) Get your timings right

Stores get crowded at certain times of day as you’d expect – with a big wave as the doors open to the large stores.

Time your opening hours with the large retailers in your neighbourhood and be aware that you can pick up customers who can’t get into the big shops, or who leave wanting more.

Shops selling electronics can be exceptionally busy, however our statistics show independent retailers that sell apparel and footwear have the biggest peak on Black Friday with a 313 per cent increase in one day. General sports retailers closely follow with a 275 per cent increase.

(2) Monitor sales minute by minute

However well-thought out your approach, you’re going to want to be flexible on the day itself to take advantage of surges in interest that you might not have been able to predict. You can change your prices as needed to move merchandise quickly but only if you are totally aware of the profit on each.

There were some UK retailers last year who discounted their goods at the last minute to keep up with big retail rivals only to find that they didn’t break even. Have a clear view of your inventory and monitor sales constantly. If you chose to discount further to make that sale, know your cut off point.

(3) Get the goodies online

Don’t be discouraged if your shop seems too small to accommodate a large crowd. An online presence helps you expand your footprint and, by offering similar Black Friday discounts on your ecommerce shop, you will tap into those customers looking for a bargain.

Going online doesn’t require you to be a programmer or graphic designer – and it can take as little as 30 minutes for a brick and mortar store to establish an online shop.

(4) Don’t delay delivery

Be crystal clear about any delivery or customisation details. A large number of people want their purchases delivered before Christmas. You should have the information to hand to let them know if that’s possible.

(5) Set a target

Start with the end in mind. Know your target and inform your team of your progress throughout the day. A busy store doesn’t always mean a successful day. Keep everyone on track with what should be sold and incentivise them where you can to motivate the team.

Many retail giants prepare for Black Friday for weeks. In the meantime, the smaller retailers could feel left behind – but they don’t need to.

From a customer’s perspective Black Friday is a positive thing. Be brave but be ready and you can reap rewards from the most exciting shopping day of the year.

Jerome Laredo is VP EMEA and Asia at Lightspeed.

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