In 2017, around 164 million Americans planned to shop during Thanksgiving weekend, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. That includes both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. With Thanksgiving weekend just weeks away, now is the best time to organize your business for some of the busiest shopping days of the year.
There are more reasons to prepare for Black Friday than just to avoid hassle and frustration later. It's actually much more about finishing off the year in as strong a manner as possible.
1. Preparing now gives you time to organize.
It's just inefficient and nerve-racking to scramble at the last minute to organize your business, website, products, and services. Preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday right now gives you the opportunity to create systems and workflows for your company while you're less stressed.
Make plans for hiring people you may need and set up proper procedures for those new employees. Lay out any new sections of your website that will be needed as well as what your social media scheduling and updates will look like. Create checklists and documents that will help you intake a larger number of customers than usual.
Preparing now will also put you in a position to enjoy the season more. You'll be more fun to be around, and you can show up -- for once -- at those holiday business gatherings that can be so good for making lasting connections.
2. Getting clear early on content and marketing goals will save trouble.
Do you know the main products your business will offer during Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Will you be running special promotions on different social media platforms? Do you have an email list in place? Will you offer special discounts? These are all questions you should be asking yourself -- now.
Getting clear on your content and marketing goals for your business is part of being organized -- but it also keeps you from having to create content on the fly. Do it now instead. Split test your products and services across various platforms to see what will give you the best ROI.
3. Engaging with customers beforehand can increase sales.
Customer frustration and behavior can be different during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The influx of shoppers changes what the business and the customer experience. Some customers may be more quick to anger because of how stressful shopping can be at that time. There are concrete ways to lower the chances of frustration.
Engage with your customers beforehand. Present a few special coupons or offerings -- now. Continue to build the customer relationship. Create a system that lets you communicate with customers easily -- whether it be live chat or even texting. Send an email or survey asking your customers what they want and expect. Ask what they would enjoy during the busy shopping weekend. Maybe a few will get some shopping done early.
Customer service is an integral part of selling your products and services, especially during these holidays. Tasks that you can do now, do them, to avoid the upset later. Not only will your customers appreciate your going above and beyond to make their experiences memorable, they'll enjoy being included and valued by your business. This is customer relationship management at its most effective, and it can increase sales for you.
4. Testing the back end will let people buy more easily.
Technology is notorious for breaking down or messing up when most needed. Make sure your website can handle the increased number of shoppers. Have multiple payment processors available.
Test your payment systems. It's probably the most important item to test before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. A recent study by Baymard Institute found that 69 percent of customers abandon carts online because of difficulty checking out, among other reasons.
5. Asking questions will prepare you for the unexpected.
Even the most prepared of business owners may have difficulties during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But this year, you can be prepared.
These shopping days are becoming more and more popular in other countries, even though they don't have Thanksgiving. People can see the deals, and they want in. Preparing for overseas sales can be a useful way to prepare for the unexpected.
"What if we sell out of a popular item? What if our best salesperson calls in sick?" Get your team to help define difficult scenarios. "Who will grab Eddie his Diet Coke? He'll die without it." The idea is to ask questions and explore possible outcomes.
You can hit Black Friday and Cyber Monday out of the park. If you and your team are ready, you will be more likely to experience a smooth, efficient shopping weekend.