Black Friday Sale

Black Friday in the year of Coronavirus: are you prepared?

You don’t need us to tell you that 2020 has been a year like no other. And if you’re wondering whether Covid will affect the annual shopping bonanza that is Black Friday, you’re not alone.

We’ve reported previously (in a 2018 and 2019 blog) about this event, but here we recap what it is, why it matters, how you can prepare, and how it could be somewhat different this time around.

What is it?

Black Friday has opened the US’s yearly festive shopping spree for decades, and happens on the day after Thanksgiving, always November’s fourth Thursday. In 2020, it falls on November 27th.

Heavy traffic would clog streets after Thanksgiving as people shopped, generating a lot of smoke, hence the supposed reason for the occasion’s name, which since 2005 has been the US’s busiest annual sales day, as retailers make a big promotional push in the weeks before Christmas. And the Friday is, in America, a ‘bridge’ between the Thanksgiving holiday and the weekend, when many people stay off work to shop.

But, increasingly, Black Friday is important this side of the Atlantic, too. In 2019, Barclaycard, which processes around a third of UK expenditure, said volume and value of transactions were up significantly. Equally, high street and shopping centre visitor numbers rose.

There was also a 20% rise in traffic from those searching for deals in some areas.

Cyber Monday follows hot on the heels of Black Friday – this year on November 30. Originally intended to promote online sales and lifestyle items, with Black Friday’s initial focus on tech goods, boundaries have since blurred as the dates merge into one four-day shopping spree.

How will Black Friday look different this year?

Coronavirus means no one wants to see the crowds of recent years as people rushed to stores to snap up bargains. So it’s likely that online sales will be more important than ever, with one figure putting growth since the pandemic at 74%. Equally, times are challenging for many, so a lot of shoppers may spend more cautiously than previously, and could need to be wooed more.

How can I get my website ready for Black Friday?

Black Friday may have a different feel in 2020, yet it’s still estimated that in the UK we’ll spend around £7bn over the weekend. Make sure your website is ready.

Here are our top suggestions for pre-Black Friday preparation as the big day approaches – remember that shoppers browse deals beforehand. This year, sound preparation is bound to be more important than ever to maximise sales and customer confidence.

  • Scale for sales

Make sure your ecommerce platform is flexible enough to cope with potentially unpredictable spikes in traffic. Additionally, ensure all appropriate security measures are ready to protect customer data, from malware blockers to firewalls and security certificates.

  • Whet customer appetites

Send out emails around a week before Black Friday to stimulate interest, without sending too many in a scattergun approach. Target your deals, too, rather than just offering, say, 30% off everything generically. Get people to sign up to price alerts.

  • Create specific landing pages

Shoppers could well be looking hurriedly for the top deals. They’re likely to leave your site equally briskly if they can’t find what they want. Make it simple to access specific things customers are looking for, and have landing pages which are properly optimised and user-friendly to navigate. Draw attention to them with banners.

  • Do your keywords research

While generic Black Friday terms will have too much competition to make them viable for smaller retailers, consider combining existing target keywords with Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Finally, all the other Black Friday suggestions we’ve made before, from abandoned cart emails to mobile optimisation and testing server load capacity, apply in 2020 as much as they did in previous years, Coronavirus or not.

With many years of industry experience in helping ecommerce customers make the most of special events like Black Friday, Front Page is ideally placed to help your business prepare. Get in touch today.