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Are you ready for Black Friday?

It’s that time of year where “Save the date” promotions for 23 November, 2018, are raising their heads. Black Friday is on its way.

Retail giants, such as Shoprite, Checkers, and Zando, are already encouraging shoppers to subscribe to their mailing lists to receive Black Friday deals, promising even bigger and better discounts than they did last year. In the past, even banks have been in on the game by offering rewards for selected Black Friday transactions.

Online retailers who have not yet considered how to maximise this selling opportunity for 2018 are likely to miss out. In total, PayFast processed a massive 370% increase in sales transactions and 450% increase in the gross value for Black Friday 2017 compared to a normal busy day like payday.

As a PayFast merchant, you’re already one step ahead in offering Black Friday shoppers a safe and secure platform to accept payments at your online store. With a dash of creativity, a touch of inspiration, and these five tips, you’ll be all set to coin it on one of the craziest shopping days in South Africa.

1. Activate all your payment options

Some banks experienced issues with 3D Secure during Black Friday 2017. By activating all your payment options, you provide your shoppers with a range of payment alternatives in cases where banks experience problems due to the sheer volume of online transactions during Black Friday.

In addition to the credit card, Instant EFT, Masterpass, and Bitcoin payment options already enabled by default, PayFast merchants can offer their shoppers mobicred, SCode, and debit card payments. With all payment options activated for Black Friday, there would be no reason for shoppers to abandon their carts because of technical errors originating at their banks.

2. Ensure that your online store is mobile ready

Shoppers today use a variety of devices to search for and purchase goods.

If this isn’t reason enough to ensure your online store is mobile ready at all times, consider that shoppers are most likely to use their mobile devices for Black Friday purchases. If your online store isn’t accessible on mobile devices, it is likely that potential shoppers will secure their Black Friday deals from a competing store that is. If you’re not sure whether your online store is mobile friendly, test your website using a free online tool, such as Window Resizer, where you can view your website at different screen resolutions.

3. Follow up with offers for Cyber Monday

PayFast experienced a 180% increase in transactions and 200% increase in the gross value processed on Cyber Monday compared to a normal business day. Cyber Monday is definitely not to be overlooked.

The once clear distinction between Black Friday—traditionally linked to offline retailers and long queues of shoppers at odd hours of the morning—and the online equivalent, Cyber Monday, no longer exists.

If you’re an online store with physical outlets, consider linking your in-store Black Friday offers with one-day-only upsells for Cyber Monday. If you’re an online-only store, consider packaging your Black Friday deal with a coupon code that can only be redeemed on Cyber Monday.

4. Think long-term

While Black Friday may very well be the day that breaks the Internet due to the unexpected volume of sales, it is but only one day in the year. Be aware that many shrewd shoppers use Black Friday and Cyber Monday to secure Christmas gifts at reduced prices.

Because this may impact your Christmas sales negatively, choose your Black Friday deals carefully. Although you may be tempted to heavily discount as many items as you possibly can to increase overall sales, remember that not everybody is driven purely by discounts. Black Friday could be the perfect opportunity to separate the deal-seekers from the value-seekers by mixing and matching heavily discounted offers with exclusive offers that may cost a little more.

Those who choose the exclusive offers that cost a little more are the ones you could target for Christmas promotions at higher prices as they are most likely to respond.

5. Secure your website

The PayFast platform is secure, but that doesn’t mean that your website is secure.

With Google Chrome’s new algorithms in July of this year, Google is penalising all websites that do not have SSL certificates installed. If unsecure, your website will display a “Not Secure” notice informing shoppers not to enter sensitive information as it could be intercepted. If you’re not sure how to go about securing your website, chat to your web designer or hosting company about having an SSL certificate installed.

6. Purchase the inventory you need

In order to take advantage of the big increase in retail in November, you need to ensure you have enough stock on hand. Retailers such as generally suggest that you hold 2.5 times the amount of stock in November than you required in June.

If you need finance in order to bolster your stock levels PayFast merchants can access up to R500 000 through Lulalend, a trusted PayFast partner. You can get financing in as little as 24 hours and their online paperless application process only takes 8-minutes.

When you consider that the number of users doubled from Black Friday 2016 to Black Friday 2017, Black Friday 2018 is set to be epic. At PayFast, we’ll do our bit to offer you and your buyers uninterrupted service over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend in 2018. We didn’t let you down last year! All you have to do is follow these six tips, stock up, and ensure that your website can handle the extra traffic.