Black Friday eCommerce Strategy: Top tips for preparing your online business

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Black Friday is rapidly approaching! With the clock counting down to the arrival of the 26th November, many eCommerce sites are rushing to discount their goods and prepare their warehouses for a flurry of orders.

No longer just an annual event for high street stores, Black Friday and the weekend through to Cyber Monday is a vital time in the eCommerce calendar. It’s an opportunity to reap sales and make a profit in the lead up to Christmas.

Promising record-breaking sales, Black Friday offers the chance to be discovered by an audience of shoppers who are keen to grab a bargain. We’ve put together a selection of top tips for your Black Friday eCommerce strategy to help you have a successful and profitable sales event.

Why is Black Friday so important? 

This annual event originated in America and is typically held on the Friday immediately after Thanksgiving. It’s important for not just eCommerce sites as Black Friday, and its counterpart Cyber Monday, are essential for retailers who want to keep up with the changing habits of their customers.

With record-breaking sales, the Black Friday weekend is known to surpass and break both traffic and sales figures of pre-Christmas shopping.

When did Black Friday become a thing?

Black Friday may feel like a recent creation, so you can be excused for thinking that Black Friday sale is a modern development. For those asking the question, when did Black Friday become a thing? You would be surprised that the history of Black Friday roots all the way to the 19th century with the American President, Abraham Lincoln.

The foundations of this event were formed through the decision to make the last Thursday of November into a national holiday, becoming what we now know as Thanksgiving. With Black Friday marking the beginning of the Christmas season, the American national holiday was created in the 1950s and has become as iconic to Thanksgiving as pumpkin pie and stuffed turkey.

How did Black Friday get its name? 

A name was coined and came in the aftermath of 24th September 1869, where the US gold market crashed and Wall Street, in turn, became bankrupt, Black Friday. The term Black Friday was later printed for the first time on paperback in 1966 in the American Philatelist, a magazine dedicated to stamp collectors’.

How successful was Black Friday 2020? 

ecommerce Black Friday Tips

When it comes to evaluating the success of Black Friday, we look at the results to see whether your eCommerce site can afford to miss out on this opportunity.

Research and reports have shown that the amount generated throughout the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend came to a staggering £6 billion. What’s more, is that a large proportion of those sales comes from online purchases.

Black Friday has seen a shift away from brick and mortar shops as shoppers turn instead to their tablets and mobiles in the hunt for a bargain. Although the number of online sales were much higher than in previous years, the amount spent on each transaction was considerably lower, showing a change in consumer attitudes.

Not just hunting for a bargain, consumers are also less inclined to make a splurge and instead prefer smaller ‘treat’ products.

How do I prepare for Black Friday eCommerce?

When it comes to preparing your online store for Black Friday; we have put together some top tips for preparing your online business. As well as, a reliable and effective Black Friday eCommerce strategy that you would be foolish to ignore. 

Here are our top tips and our Black Friday eCommerce strategy:

1. Come up with your Black Friday promotions 

To succeed throughout the Black Friday weekend, coming up with a set of enticing and inspiring offers to gain more traffic to your site is essential. You can no longer simply offer 15% off or 20% off, consumers are looking for a bargain they can’t find elsewhere.

In an interview with journalists, Asos chief exec Nick Beighton described Black Friday 2018 as disappointing. Offering only a 20% discount across their online marketplace, Nick Beighton explained that they were uncompetitive in comparison with other eCommerce sites.

The importance of creating unmissable offers is apparent and online sunglasses shop Blenders is a prime example of the importance of reducing and offering unmissable offers. With 55% off offered across their sunglasses, this discount was far larger than the discount offered the previous year that was a modest 40%. Blenders Eyewear CEO, Chase Fisher, said, “Make sure your offer is compelling, no matter what.”

However, your promotions don’t have to be 15% or 20% off. Instead, they could give shoppers a reason to return to your site after the period is finished. You could do this by offering them a gift card or free shipping on a future order, to name just two examples. Being creative with your offers is also the best way to engage shoppers, especially those who already know and trust your brand.

2.  Develop a compelling Marketing Strategy 

Along with creating compelling offers that customers will want to part with their hard-earned cash for, you also need to develop a marketing strategy in advance.

Instead of running all your promotions at the same time, consider leaking promotions throughout the month of November to spread them out, with emails about early sales and countdowns to create a sense of urgency. This will pace them and thereby help you to gain momentum in driving sales.

Start by releasing offers at the beginning of the month. In doing this, you can capture shoppers after they have been paid, whilst also capturing users who are less patient and who are looking to make an impulse purchase.

To generate a buzz around your Black Friday strategy, consider following these steps to create momentum:

  • A coordinated and well planned Black Friday marketing strategy. This strategy should go live simultaneously across all your social media channels, as well as your website and email marketing.
  • Sneak peeks and product sales which go live during the run-up to Black Friday. Along with driving traffic to the site, these sales can be promoted across social media, within ads, such as Google Ads and through email marketing campaigns.
  • Post-Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. By continuing to offer deals after the weekend has finished, you can extend those sale offers and promotions to Christmas shoppers. When marketing your promotions to online Christmas shoppers, a fast track delivery service, as well as a gift wrapping option could help persuade unsure shoppers to buy from your store.

3. Fine-tune your marketing campaign

Now that you’ve taken the time to work out what promotions and discounts you intend to offer your customers and have decided how long before and after the Black Friday weekend you intend on running them, it’s best to begin advertising as early as possible.

With sales and promotions now being run year-round, consumers can now take advantage of low prices at any time of year. Advertising competition is especially high during the Black Friday weekend as a wide variety of businesses compete to claim the limited attention amongst their target audience. This means it’s best to advertise earlier and grab consumers’ attention as soon as you can.

For those companies wanting to use Google Ads to generate traffic over the Black Friday weekend, here are some top tips to keep in mind:

  • To help build a responsive audience and to save money, consider buying traffic early.
  • Remarket frequently to remain memorable and create a responsive audience who are likely to return organically within the future.
  • Narrow your keywords of choice so that they are using high purchase intent keywords. Use words such as “buy” and “best deal”.

4. Create anticipation through social platforms 

Social Platforms
Social Platforms

Social media is a powerful tool that shouldn’t be overlooked. It allows companies to connect and communicate directly with their target audience. When preparing your Black Friday eCommerce strategy, use social media to excite your audience through imagery and words.

When creating hype and getting your voice heard within the busy and crowded arena that is the internet, consider developing a countdown. By counting down the days and releasing snippets as to what they can expect, customers can prepare and create an attachment to that item that they feel they need.

5. Create a separate segment within email marketing

Email marketing is a powerful tool, allowing companies to communicate with previous and returning customers while spreading their news and brand message. For online businesses developing an effective Black Friday marketing strategy, consider segmenting your email marketing campaigns, into separate emails that are bespoke to your target audiences.

By aiming the email at the correct target audience, you will see a higher open rate, click-through rate, in turn leading to a higher revenue per recipient.

Your email list categories could be:

  1. Seasonal Shoppers
  2. VIP Customers
  3. Recent Openers
  4. Product Browsers
  5. Category Buyers
  6. Email Ignorers
  7. Almost Purchasers
  8. Geographic Targets
  9. Gift Givers
  10. Engaged but have not yet purchased.

Taking the time to create individual smaller email segments with a relevant, individualised email can lead to higher interaction, helping to achieve those results you desperately seek over the Black Friday weekend.

For those businesses targeting recent openers, email ignorers and those that are engaged but have yet to purchase, it is vital to create a tailored offer to their needs helping to inspire them to open the email within their inbox and then to visit the site once they have done so.

6. Site performance

So, you have created an effective marketing strategy, developed a set of offers to help drive traffic and revenue to your site, don’t forget that site performance is a key aspect of your Black Friday success that often gets overlooked.

Poor speed creates an array of unwanted user behaviour. 57% of users will leave after waiting more than 3 seconds for a page to load. This means that having a user-friendly site that loads quickly is vital to performing well in the Black Friday period.

Yet the actual process of speeding up a website can be easier than expected, with tools such as GTMetrix and Google Pagespeed insights. These allow you to pinpoint the largest factors affecting performance.

With the expected surge of visitors over Black Friday you need to prepare your website in advance, making sure that your site can handle the increased number of requests and visits. Whether that be increasing your web server’s resources, for example RAM, or making sure that you have a backup in place. These simple steps made in advance help minimise the risk of lost revenue.

A good user experience on your website isn’t just influenced by how quickly it loads. It should be clear and easy to use the website to find and order products. Make sure the website is not only responsive and mobile-friendly but actually easy to use on a mobile device. Sometimes the best way to check this is to actually attempt to order a product on the website with a phone.

7. Focus on mobile shopping 

Mobile Shopping - Black Friday Marketing Tips
Focus on Mobile Shopping

With more of us switching from our desktop computers in favour of shopping on our mobile phones and tablets, more emphasis needs to be placed on making sure that your online business is mobile friendly.


Research has found, however, that although the majority of users are browsing on our mobile phones, when we go to checkout, we still prefer our desktops to complete our online shopping.


Whether it be for security concerns, the inability to open multiple browser tabs on our mobile phones to the difficulty of inputting information, desktop shopping still remains king.


That being said, however, the focus needs to be put on making your website mobile-friendly, helping to attract and hook potential customers. Making sure that your mobile website has been optimised and is user-friendly is key for scooping up those additional sales across the Black Friday weekend.

8. Improved website navigation

When it comes to user experience and keeping online shoppers engaged within your site, website navigation can play a huge part. By improving your on-site performance along with helping customers to navigate your site with ease, you can help reduce abandoned baskets by a staggering 80%.

For eCommerce sites preparing for the launch of Black Friday, there are a few steps that you can take to make sure that your site is ready to amaze and dazzle potential customers:

  • Look at your site analytics. By looking at how visitors are navigating their way around your site and where they are dropping off, you can see the areas of your site that need improvement, giving you plenty of time to make those changes. 
  • Accurate search results. To help retain customers and make sure that the correct products are being found, make sure that the search function of your site is accurate. 

9. Simplify the checkout process 

You have marketed to the correct audience, and have got them onto the checkout page, the last hurdle is to get them to complete the order.

The importance of a simplified checkout process is key to converting customers and preventing them from dropping off and disappearing into the ever-growing net of the interweb.

With reports by CNBC finding that up to $5,400 spent online is from impulse purchases, the majority of those impulse purchases were made from sites that offered a one-click buying option. To enable customers to complete their order with one click, there is a selection of different on-site payment gateways that you too can use on your eCommerce site.

These include:

  • Shopify Pay
  • Apple Pay
  • Android Pay
  • PayPal

10. Shipping and returns plan

When it comes to online shopping, there is an automatic expectation that we require our order to be delivered the next working day if possible. This lack of patience and the desire for products to be delivered swiftly means more focus needs to be put into offering a fast and reliable shipping option as well as a hassle-free returns plan.

With 50% of abandoned baskets coming from a lack of inadequate delivery options, the importance of offering a range of different delivery options is important. While standard delivery might be satisfactory for some, for customers spending a larger amount of money, the offering of free ‘Next Day’ delivery would make an inspiring case, motivating customers to complete their purchase .

For those customers who have made their way to the checkout on your site, a motivator and a deciding factor for shoppers is the ease in which they can return their online order. A successful Black Friday eCommerce strategy should include the option of a hassle-free return policy within a determined time frame.

Final thoughts

There you have it, our top tips to create a successful and reliable Black Friday eCommerce strategy that works. By following our guide and adjusting to the needs of your customers, you can create an inspiring and attractive set of promotions that can be heard across all the back noise of the internet.

With a selection of offers and promotions being thrown left right and centre throughout the Black Friday weekend, to be successful and to increase your revenue, there are key points that need to be considered.

Taking the time to create an effective marketing strategy, reducing your prices and making sure that your website is fast, user-friendly and with a simple checkout process, you too can maximise on the seasonal sale period before the run-up to Christmas.

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