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How to handle Black Friday as an SME

Marking the beginning of the Christmas shopping season for countless people across the US, Black Friday is one of the biggest days for retailers, year in year out.

Last year alone, Black Friday sales brought in a record $729 billion with $7.4 billion spent online. In 2019, 165 million people took to the shops to grab a bargain from their favorite stores. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic however, it is highly unlikely that the usual scenes of frenzied high-street shopping will be repeated in 2020; meaning that online retailers should prepare for a dramatic increase in online purchases instead.

In recent years, Black Friday has increasingly been adopted by countries worldwide and across multiple industries. Businesses of all sizes are capitalizing on the popularity of this shopping holiday and utilizing it within their marketing strategy.

Now accompanied by days such as Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, the long weekend following the Thanksgiving holiday presents a world of opportunity for businesses to market to prospective customers. This year, Black Friday falls on 27th November, followed by Cyber Monday on 30th November and Small Business Saturday on 5th December.

More and more businesses, not necessarily retailers, are using the Black Friday concept to promote products and/or services to prospective customers. This can include discounts, special packages for services, free consultations or even free trials.

Black Friday for SMEs

We tend to associate Black Friday and Cyber Monday with large, well-known brands such as Amazon, Macy’s, Target and so many others. This is predominantly due to the fact that these companies have a substantial advertising budget to promote the day, weeks (if not months) in advance.

Whilst SMEs will not have the same advertising power as their larger counterparts, this does not rule them out. There are many ways in which you can ensure you are a serious contender in the Black Friday stakes.

Tips for SMEs to handle Black Friday

Confirm you have the resources in place

First and foremost, it’s essential that your business has the capacity to deal with the demands of Black Friday. This will include your marketing efforts prior to the day, as well as the necessary resources in place following the day itself. If this is your first time taking part in Black Friday then you may not have previous data to pinpoint precisely how much your resources need to be scaled, therefore thorough planning and forecasting is vital.

Ensure your website and IT is up to the job

With many people looking to stay indoors and shop online, the correct type & level of hosting will be crucial. Particularly for those taking part in Cyber Monday, one of the biggest mistakes any business could make is to build anticipation surrounding an offer, only to have their website or IT fail in the midst of its run. We have seen this issue countless times before where websites are unable to handle the additional traffic and therefore go down in the middle of a sale, or users are unable to easily navigate a website, thereby losing potential sales. Well in advance of your Black Friday or Cyber Monday offer going live, you should analyze your website for any issues and double-check that your servers can handle the extra traffic.

Start early

Letting your customers know what they can expect, as well as building anticipation, will ensure that you gain the most out of Black Friday. Marketing is, of course, a crucial component to this. For smaller businesses, social media will provide a relatively cheap and highly effective platform on which to reach your target audience and raise awareness of your Black Friday offers. You may also consider refining your SEO strategy to target those looking for Black Friday deals in your sector. And, if you have a data protection compliant database, carrying out an email marketing campaign that counts down to the start of your offer is a great idea to generate hype in the lead-up to the day.

As a small business, how have you utilized Black Friday? And what tips do you have for fellow businesses on running offers effectively? We’d love to hear from you over on our Twitter page!

*2019 statistics from

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