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LOCKDOWN 2.0 Tips for SMEs to make a lockdown Black Friday work

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With an unprecedented Black Friday on the horizon, Global eCommerce platform, Kooomo, advises that smaller retailers must use the next few weeks leading up to the key spending weekend wisely, strengthening the structures they already have in place.

Ciaran Bollard, CEO, Kooomo says, “The uncertainty faced by retailers throughout 2020 has made for difficult trading conditions. This has been particularly felt by smaller independent and boutique retailers who may not have previously had the infrastructure in place to rapidly adapt to sudden lockdowns or restrictions. With this in mind, retailers now have the opportunity to make up for potential losses during the peak retail period in the lead up to Christmas. Most have implemented digital strategies now and Black Friday offers the perfect time to reach your target audience and increase conversions.”

Bollard provides the following six tips for independent and boutique retailers looking to get the most out of the coming weeks in the lead up to Black Friday:

1. Define your success

Decide what a “successful” Black Friday means to you – Is it to have increased sales? Increased customer retention rates? Perhaps this year your goal is to shift stock that was stuck during a lockdown? In an ideal world, you would satisfy all of these goals in a single swoop, but different elements of your strategy can impact each of these targets differently. Therefore, it’s important to hone in on your goal and strengthen everything at your disposal to achieve this.

If your objective is to increase sales, focus on promoting your discounts. If it’s to retain customers, incentivise repeat purchasing or subscriptions if it’s to shift stock, look at bundle deals – it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the preparations, but the solutions needn’t be rocket science.

It’s also wise to consider your timelines – instead of focusing solely on 27 November, why not extend your campaign to a week or even two? While you may worry that this could undermine the exclusivity of your campaign, it could actually ease the congestion on your website which may cause technical issues.

2. Start communications now

Consumers are already looking towards and planning for Black Friday, which is evident since most consumer interest publications have been dishing out their advice to shoppers since the summer. For SMEs willing to communicate offers early, the benefits could be vast.

While the changes in 2020 have been stark for SMEs, the change in consumer attitudes has indicated a shift towards and in support of local retailers. In fact, We may even be entering a golden age of retail localisation.

This creates an opportunity for small retailers. They are being sought after, written about and held in high regard –  So now is the time to go that one step further and ensure your brand is delivering campaigns which not only entice customers but also create brand advocates. Social media is often the best way to initiate these communications, but mobile, in general, is the way forward when it comes to reaching out to your target audience. Which leads us to our next piece of advice.

3. Where possible, go mobile-first

We’re not suggesting you roll out a mobile strategy in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, but you need to get the most out of the tools you already have in place – be they email addresses, phone numbers, social platforms or your current website.

Text messages are 10 times more likely to be redeemed than print and 90% of text messages are read within three minutes. Therefore, if you already have a database of contact numbers, direct messages could help give your business the edge over competitors this Black Friday.

Consider your email campaigns also – are they optimised for mobile? Most email marketing platforms such as Campaign Monitor or MailChimp will give you the option to design and preview emails in a mobile format which can be a timesaver.

Finally, when it comes to social media, start organically, and reach out to your current followers – it’s important to maintain your brand values. If you feel you’re able to design your promotional and social media images yourself, then you should look to create some new cover images for your social media channels and images to promote your Black Friday sale.

4. Go smarter with discounts, not lower

Shoppers are savvier than ever before – so never try to pull the wool over their eyes with bogus discounts. It is possible to cut through the white noise of the retail giants. Try your best to personalise and incentivise your offerings without slashing the prices on everything.

By being shrewd and agile at this time, smaller merchants can stand out from the crowd by getting as specific as possible with offers that go beyond discounts. Show you really care about your customers and what’s important to them. 

5. Reach out to your couriers now

This might be the single most important consideration to make ahead of Black Friday. It’s vital to get in touch with your couriers now to determine the lay of the land for deliveries. This is more in terms of the communications you need to make with your consumers rather than trying to ensure next day delivery.

We recently conducted a poll on our social channels, “Are you, the consumer, willing to forfeit next day delivery in order to shop with local businesses?” to which 86% of respondents stated “Yes” – so don’t feel like your business can’t compete with those that offer next day delivery – what you absolutely should do, however, is be transparent about your delivery timelines so that customers are informed.

Informing consumers of delivery times, safety standards and potential delays are crucial for building trust and customer loyalty, and this is where you should focus your efforts over the coming weeks. Managing consumer expectations is the key to providing the best possible CX – this will help alleviate fears, build trust in a difficult time and lead to better customer retention.

6. Test your site

Finally, Whether you’re new to online trade or a veteran, continuously testing your site is a valuable practice that can open your eyes to new improvements no matter how often you do it.

With Black Friday and the Cyber Weekend in general, increased traffic to your site is a given. Capacity planning is essential for all eCommerce operations, ensuring you can accurately gauge if your site will confidently cope with peak. The spike in traffic can quickly lead to poor site performance — even for some of the biggest retailers in the country. Performing load tests on your websites or web applications show how many specific users they can handle at one time, and if necessary, for how long. This ensures that your system can handle growth under specified levels of simultaneous traffic. 

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