It’s no secret that Black Friday / Cyber Monday (BFCM) has been growing at an insane rate over the past few years. Just six years ago BFCM deals were almost unheard of, but South Africans are always keen for a deal and retailers never miss a chance to put on another sale. So this combination has led to a remarkable surge in sales over this period year on year.
2020 has certainly been a unique year, and BFCM will be no different as consumers may not be ready to or able to storm retail outlets like previous sale periods. In fact, some big USA businesses like Walmart and Target have already announced that they will not be doing in-store promotions, and South African retailers may have to follow suit.
With this in mind, it won’t come as a surprise when all the big retailers move a larger portion of their advertising budget to drive online sales. This fact is very concerning for SME online sellers, as this will drive up advertising costs and there will be far more competition online than ever before.
And this is exactly why I’ve been recommending to my students of the Insaka eCommerce Academy that they prepare long in advance and that they are clever with their marketing so that they aren’t caught up in the high ad costs and all the noise of BFCM.
I recently ran a BFCM Workshop for the Insaka premium students and here’s four top tips from that workshop:
1. Warm up your database
Let your customers know about your deals in advance and let them opt-in to be notified first when deals become available. Doing this lets people plan ahead to support your shop and it can stop customers from shopping around with your competitors.
This is also an opportunity to reward your loyal customers by giving them first access to the best deals – especially when stock is limited.
2. Start your deals early
Last year we saw deals being announced as early as 1st November, and this year it is likely to be even before that. Retailers are all trying to capture sales first and to avoid all the advertising noise of the big BFCM weekend. You can now do the same by spreading out your deals over the entire month instead of just having one massive rush over a single day or weekend.
An added benefit of spreading out your deals is that this avoids you and your team having all the BFCM sales coming though over a short period of time. Doing this will also spread out the workload so your team will be able to handle the surge in orders and the resulting surge in customer support queries.
3. Rev up remarketing
If you see a drop in sales leading up to BFCM then don’t panic, as this is normal buying behaviour as shoppers wait for the big sale. What we do however need to realise is that although these shoppers aren’t placing orders during this quiet period, they are doing their homework on the products which they are planning to buy. This means that they are likely visiting your website to research items and to find out which stockists have particular items available. So, the opportunity which you can jump on here is to focus heavily on retargeting during the BFCM period so that you can show your deals to potential customers who’ve already been researching items on your store. The costs of proactive forms of advertising are likely to shoot through the roof, and while remarketing costs will most likely be higher than normal too, there’s a great opportunity to capture sales easily by showing your BFCM deals to the customers who had previously been researching these products on your site.
4. Don’t forget the debrief
Since my prediction is that BF is going to expand out across all of November, it’s easy to feel like you need a break at the end of November, but there’s no time to rest as the festive season is right around the corner. This is the time to get your team together and do a thorough debrief of what worked and what didn’t work, what sold and what didn’t sell. Plan your festive deals straight away and start your next campaign. After all, festive season sales for ecommerce tend to be high during the first two weeks of December before slowing down after the 16th when people leave on vacation and they hesitate to shop online due to concerns of deliveries not happening before 25th December.
One last tip for the post-BFCM debrief: Don’t leave money on the table. If you run out of stock during BFCM, or if you get customers asking for deals that you can’t supply, then try your best to source stock for them so that you can close any sales which may have slipped through the cracks over the busy period.
These tips are just a few of the great snippets of advice from the BFCM Workshop which I recently ran for my premium students, and although the workshop was only for Insaka Premium Students I have made the replay available for free for anyone who joins our programme between 5th and 8th October 2020. If you want to learn how to start a store and grow your online sales then read all about it here.
About the author
Warrick Kernes is a serial entrepreneur with 13 years ecommerce experience in South Africa and Europe. Winner of London’s 2009 Young Businessman of the Year Award. Founder of the SA award winning online store Action Gear (founded 2010, exited 2018). Guest lecturer on ecommerce at WITS Business School to MBA students and he has also talked on ecommerce for JP Morgan (S&P 500). Warrick is a regular contributing author for Entrepreneur Magazine and in 2018 he published his book on South African ecommerce. He also sits on the Education Committee for the ecommerce Forum Africa. In 2017, Warrick founded the Insaka ecommerce Academy and is now dedicated to growing SA’s ecommerce industry.