The E-Commerce Manager’s Guide to Black Friday

Kjetil Ullsgård 6/25/2021 8:53:51 AM


We always know it's coming but still, every year we get stressed and run around preparing for this day way too late. It’s not uncommon being stressed for big occasions like this, but you need to keep your head cool, and prepare for every scenario. This day has to be perfect, as Black Friday can make or break your year.

There are many different approaches to this day. Many companies embrace the day, the week, and some even celebrate the whole month by offering crazy deals and big discounts.

On the other side, companies such as IKEA choose to focus on reuse and sustainability. You have to find out how you want to approach this day.

Consider that your customer remembers better than you may think; if you choose a sustainability standpoint one year and are running sales and other discounts the next year, you could become a victim of scrutiny of your company’s values, which in turn could weaken your reputation.

There are several success stories of companies that take a more sustainable approach, so I'm not going to give advice on what approach you should take in this blog post.

What I will do is give you a guide on what you should prepare, and some tips for a less stressful preparation.

Preparation is the key to success

Preparation is always the key to success. You do not want to find out at the last minute that you are missing content, or that products on sale are missing pictures or other important enrichment for your Black Friday campaigns.

Let's have a look at the most important areas when preparing for Black Friday. We’ll go through the following:

  • Start preparations early
  • Optimized landing pages
  • Technical preparations
  • Plan B
  • Customer Service
  • Digital Marketing
  • Your own channels

Start preparation early

The sooner you start preparing, the better. Start by creating a timeline on what needs to be done, as well as when. When all the tasks are created, it's time to prioritize and assign them to the correct resources.

Some important areas to clarify early:

  • What products/services should be on sale.
  • Secure enough stock.
  • Decide what's your offer/s.
  • Should you have any black week offers?
  • Who needs to be informed and when.
  • Estimate orders and products sold.
  • What marketing material do you need?
  • Set a marketing budget.
  • Set a detailed timeline.

Optimized landing pages

Most e-commerce sites experience a much higher number of active users during Black Week and Black Friday.

The last thing you want is your e-commerce site to crash during the best sales hours on Black Friday, making it really important to optimize the most popular pages and landing pages.

Make sure load time is good, and make sure images are compressed to reduce impact on servers during hours with heavy traffic. Optimized pages aren't only about technical optimization. Make sure all your deals are easily found throughout your site, and work with an easy-to-use navigation.

Resources at Geta, myself included, have good experience with simplifying landing pages by listing the most important and popular product categories on the frontpage and other relevant landing pages.

Technical preparation

Make sure the technical team prepares for the traffic that is expected.

There are several adjustments that can be done to improve a website's performance when you have a large number of visitors. Examples of this is reducing the number of requests sent to different services, increasing caching, and as a backup maybe add a queue system.

Queue systems have become a popular solution as an extra layer of security for any downtime.

If you see that your site is struggling, you can activate the queue. Another benefit of the queue function, is that you can regulate how many users are at a certain page or service at the same time (e.g. checkout).

It's better to have users wait a couple of minutes, than having downtime and getting no sales at all.

Always have a plan B

No matter how much you prepare, there are certain things that you just can’t control.

What if a payment system fails, or other external solutions that you rely on stops working. You should always prepare for the worst scenario and have a plan B.

Create content and texts in advance for quick social media updates and updates on the website if anything goes wrong. Hopefully you won’t need this, but it’s better to be prepared. This can also be reused year after year, so you’re ready if you're ever unfortunate.

Keep customer service close

The frontline of your business and the ones closest to the customer is your customer service.

Create a hotline between you and customer service, so that information can be provided quickly and by two-way communication.

Customer service is often first to know if something is wrong on your site, such as a CTA-button not working, or a product that won't add to cart. Many small issues can be difficult to discover in other ways.

Digital marketing

Black Friday is probably the most expensive day to advertise, which is why you need to build a strategy on how you should spend your marketing budget for this event.

There are several ways you can do this, and unfortunately there is no one-fits-all-solution that can be applied.

Many start “teasing” their offers weeks in advance as it's cheaper then, but it's harder to stay relevant over a long time, and competitors can easily copy and respond to your ads. The closer to Black Friday you get, the higher the price for digital marketing.

This is something you must take into consideration.

We have experienced that several companies choose not to spend any marketing money on Black Friday itself, but you really have to make sure you are top of mind and relevant for users in advance.

Earlier I said that customers remember more than we think, but in this case, it’s the opposite. Your customers are exposed to so much marketing material and great offers, that they can quickly forget you and your offers.

Maximize potential in your own channels

If you have an email list, make sure to create inspiring and interesting newsletters about your offers. This also goes for social media.

If your customers have signed up for your newsletter or followed you on SoMe, it means that they want to receive offers or news from you. In addition, you may want to encourage them to share the news with their friends and family.

Black Friday is also a good time to collect email addresses for your newsletter. Before Black Friday, you could have information on your website and/or social media and tell them “sign up to be the first to get the deal” or “stay up to date on our offers” and encourage them to sign up by appealing to early bird advantages.

Have an internal contest

Make the whole organization participate in a guessing competition!

This is a great way to include people that are not working directly with e-commerce to see the value of, and gain interests, in the e-commerce world.

Hand out last year's results, such as: revenue, number of pieces sold, number of orders, and make them guess what WE will achieve this year.

Set up a live sales dashboard for everyone to watch!

This is a great way to increase awareness and interest for your e-commerce business across every division in the company!

Last, but not least

Yes, the months and weeks before Black Friday can be stressful, but do not forget to enjoy what is perhaps the greatest and most fun workday in all of commerce!

Remember that Black Friday is more or less a shopper’s holiday, and you are responsible for their experience during this time.

Imagine it to be some kind of surprise party for someone you hold dear, and you want to make their day, week, or month simply amazing.

Be creative, have fun, and let the joy of great deals and offers spread all over.

Good luck!