Next weekend is Black Friday / Cyber Monday…. it’s a 4 day event now, and having only been introduced to the UK by Amazon in 2010 (in a small way) and then in 2013 by Asda Walmart offering mega deals on electrical items, it seems that every retailer is using Black Friday weekend as the first bite at the Christmas cherry to boost sales.

Figures breaking down the spend in 2015, show the Friday as the highest revenue day… possibly due to the urgency of needing to buy before stocks are depleted.

Friday £1.1bn

Saturday £561m

Sunday £676m

Monday £968m

A total of £3.3bn over the 4 days. (source: MRG EXPERIEAN DATA) .

It is estimated that, 2 years on, this year (2017) will bring in around £10.1bn in revenue from UK shoppers.

As small businesses, how can we ensure we stand out from the crowd? What can we do to persuade our customers to spend with us, rather than the giants? And, as a small business, why should we really bother even trying to compete?

Let’s tackle the WHY… why should you bother trying to compete, or why should be in the Black Friday race at all? 

Black Friday can be a very useful event if you have an end goal in mind. Don’t think of the event as you having to slash prices and give away profit, look at it as an opportunity to:

1.Sell slow moving stock – which would otherwise be sat on your shelves generating no income at all

2. Sell stock quickly, at a discount (but not a loss), because you want to generate income, free up some cash flow to enable you to buy more stock

3. Bring customers into your store – using an offer to entice them, and with a view to them looking around (either Bricks or Clicks) and buying some other products at full price. This also increases your average order / basket value so you generate more revenue

4. Gain email addresses… encouraging new customers to make an online purchase on Black Friday and asking them to sign up to your mailing list …so you can market directly to them in the future

So HOW can we stand out from the crowd in a noisy marketplace? 

We spend so much time nurturing our crowd, getting to know them on social media, chatting to them when they come into our stores, that’s what makes us different from the big retailers. We listen, we communicate, we take on board feedback and suggestion, and we give them what they want. So getting in front of your crowd for Black Friday, should be tackled in the same way you usually talk to your crowd. TALK TO THEM.

If you have a bricks store, put up POS with “Black Friday Sale Coming Soon”, tell them, pop a leaflet in their bag (or parcel if you have an ecom store)

If you have a mailing list, tell them NOW that you will have some Black Friday deals, talk about it on social media, produce some simple, clean graphics with BLACK FRIDAY wording on, and add your link to your site on the graphic.

2-3 days before Black Friday, you can reveal your offers – but don’t make them live until Black Friday. Send reminder emails / posts in the days leading up to Black Friday, and if the product lends itself to video demos or detailed photography, then do this, show your customer.

Here are some of the best Black Friday graphics I snapped in 2016…lots of ideas for you…but note, the simple ones work!

Black Friday Graphics Ideas RBQ Consultancy

Black Friday Screenshots of offers 2016 Retail Biz queen

Black Friday Cyber Monday Graphics 2016

Black Friday Graphics Ideas RBQ Consultancy

What offers can a small business put together to persuade customers to spend with us, rather than the giants? 

As expected, a whopping discount always works, but, as I’ve said previously, don’t discount for the sake of it. Think strategically about your offers. Instead of reducing, offer a multi buy (so technically the product is reduced, but you have generated a larger sale than you would have had), offer a free gift with a product, free personalisation, free gift wrapping, Buy something, get another item at a discount, you could also offer future discounts – spend over £50, get a £10 voucher to spend in January (Argos do this very well) …. there are loads of ideas that don’t necessarily mean you have to slash all of your prices….and don’t forget you don’t have to discount everything or have offers on everything, 2-3 key offers will bring in traffic to your site and footfall into your shop.

Whatever you come up with, the offers should be short term (4 days maximum) and still offer Great Value to the customer.

Thinking ahead to 2018, here’s how do the giants do it, and it make encourage you to start thinking ahead…..

How do the big retailers do it so well? The answer is simple…they plan, and plot and squeeze! They plan ahead, as a buyer, I would work at least 12 months in advance, sourcing product, negotiating and identifying trends. Buyers are currently planning what they want to include in Black Friday deals 2018. They will work with suppliers, give them estimates on volumes, and book production space. They will plot with suppliers whether they can amend / reduce / manipulate a product to shave some money off the cost, yet still creating a product that the consumer will feel is a good deal. An example of this would be perhaps a cashmere sweater… all year round the sweater may contain 100% cashmere, yet for Black Friday, the buyers source an 80% cashmere jumper, at a knock down price, just for Black Friday. Other items may be a pen and notebook set – all year round the pen includes 3 ink cartridges and the notebook is 80gsm paper, 120 pages… for Black Friday, a specific batch of this product is ordered in, with only 1 ink cartridge, 70gsm paper and 100 pages… at a glance, the customer would never know the difference….yet the retailer sells at a Black Friday discount without really losing any profit.

Other tactics (think back to Woolworths in the UK who were infamous for this),  was to price establish a product for the minimum required 28 days, at a ridiculous price, knowing it would never sell at the inflated price. Then, for Black Friday weekend, the price would be slashed to probably its true worth, yet the retailer can quote and offer huge discounts and savings to the customer. It’s do-able because of early planning.


Here’s my Golden Rules to Black Friday Offers…

  1. Keep your offers simple and easy for your customers to calculate discounts… 20% 1/3 half price all work best…. 15% 40% or buy one get one 1/3 off…too complex
  2. Always remove the offers at midnight on Cyber Monday. Ensure your customers know that the offers were for a limited time only – otherwise you lose the urgency to buy
  3. Make it easy for your customers to buy – simple, quick online checkouts, have adequate staffing levels in a bricks store
  4. Manage expectations – if you realistically can’t ship out all your orders or produce them within a few days, tell them. Although your customers have got themselves a bargain, they still expect good customer service. Tell them their order will be 7 days, much better than handling a stack of email queries 3 days after Black Friday ends. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog, working in retail buying for 23 years has taught me lots of tips and tricks, and I love to share them with small businesses around the world. I have worked at some of the fastest growing retailers in the UK, and learnt from some of the best CEOs in retail. I now work as consultant and coach for retail and product businesses, aswell as running my own retail and fitness business.

If you would like more support, I work 1-2-1 with clients, large or small, and have a starter strategy hour session with me for just £99. Please email for more details / availability or check out my website for more information 

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