Black Friday – an Important Day in the Calendar for Online Retailers

Black Friday has become known among consumers for being the one day of the year they are guaranteed to grab a bargain – or several.

Originating in the US to capitalise on the Thanksgiving holiday, the event has travelled over to the UK and now the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend makes up some of the most profitable days of the year for UK eCommerce. Black Friday revenue grows year on year with 2018 seeing nearly £1.5billion spent by UK online shoppers.

This year’s Black Friday falls on 29th November with Cyber Monday following on 1st December. In recent years, some retailers have gained a head start on the competition by stretching their sale over a fortnight, or even a full month.

Planning and Preparation

The more preparation you put into Black Friday and Cyber Monday in advance, the better your results will be.


If your company carries out regular and ongoing analysis of marketing data, you will already know where your customers enter into your sales funnel. Use this to focus your advertising budget into channels that are likely to give you the most return on investment.

Your email list is a valuable marketing tool and a carefully thought-out email campaign will nurture your customers in the run-up to Black Friday. It is worth remembering that inboxes will be flooded with promotional emails in the approach, so spending time crafting killer subject lines and eye-catching content to improve open rates will pay off.

A great way to maintain customer interest is to release different offers for each day of the weekend. Alert your followers to the ‘deal of the day’ through your email campaign and social media channels to encourage return custom. Consumers who purchase on day one are more likely to consider returning to take advantage of your subsequent offers.

Set aside time and money to optimise social media channels in the weeks leading up to the big day. It’s the online equivalent to dressing your shop window and is your chance to impress your existing audience and reach out to new markets with paid targeted advertising.

Goal Setting

Goal setting is an important part of your Black Friday e-commerce strategy. An overall goal defining the purpose of the campaign can then be broken down into achievable daily targets.

Remember to focus on net profit rather than gross. You can put all your energy into driving sales, but you’ll lose out on the bottom line if your margins are too tight.  Keep your end goal in sight to achieve the best outcomes for your business.

Of course, if your aim is to shift excess stock, you can set different goals and adjust your profit expectations accordingly.

If discounting dilutes the exclusivity of your brand and contradicts your overall strategy, consider offering a free gift with every purchase instead of lowering prices. Better still, increase the value of the gift in line with the cart value to encourage higher spend per customer.

Once you have set goals and decided upon discount amounts, you need to take practical steps to make sure your e-commerce site is performing at its best and can cope with the potential rise in demand.

Shopify Features

Shopify offers a range of features and add-ons that can help cope with the increase in demand and streamline the process, both for the consumer at the front end and for your business at the back end.

  • Upsell and cross-sell products using the app. It presents your customers with suggested items, alternative to out-of-stock items and recently viewed items to encourage them to make additional purchases. You can manage the process manually or set up your systems then let handle the whole process for you.
  • Re:amaze allows you to handle your customer conversations in one place, linking up with multiple storefronts and websites – perfect if you are managing more than one business. Responding to your customers quickly will generate trust in your brand, drive sales and encourage brand loyalty.
  • Help your happy customers spread the word about your business with an automated referral scheme from Referral Candy. Available through the Shopify App Store, this clever app offers free gifts, discounts or cash rewards to your customers for referring their friends. The more they refer, the more they earn, making this beneficial for both consumer and business.

These are just a few examples of how Shopify apps can streamline processes and drive sales to help you reach your Black Friday campaign goals. There is a multitude of additional apps that can solve any issue your eCommerce business may encounter.

Shopify takes the responsibility to support their merchants through Black Friday very seriously. They analyse results, develop new features and share advice all year round, to make sure their clients see bigger and better results every year.

Data from 2018 clearly shows that Shopify played an instrumental part in supporting and enabling the eCommerce industry to capitalise on the Black Friday/Cyber Monday event. Trends showed that most sales happened through mobile devices rather than desktop, highlighting the need for responsive sites and mobile-friendly payment options such as Shopify Pay.

Analysis of the days surrounding Black Friday showed that purchasing rates started to significantly rise four days before the event – an indication that shoppers are ready to buy in advance of Black Friday itself.

Shopify merchants generated a staggering US$37million per hour at their peak during the 2018 Black Friday event.

Black Friday

ECommerce websites are really put to the test on Black Friday. If all goes to plan and you’ve executed your marketing strategy effectively, you can expect to see a considerable surge in traffic. As well as an increase in sales, there are a few additional ways you can use this to your advantage.

Grow Your Email List

An incentivised pop-up offering an additional discount or free gift for people who sign up to receive regular emails is likely to be well-received when buyers are already in the mindset of looking for a bargain. Encourage on-the-fence shoppers to check out using their additional bonus discount and grow your list at the same time. Win, win.

Upsell and Cross-sell

Driving up individual customer spend makes a big difference to your margins. The higher the cart value at check out, the higher the profit for your business.

If you’re not quite sure on the difference between upselling and cross-selling, think of it like this: upselling is persuading the customer to upgrade on the purchase they are about to make, whilst cross-selling is offering additional items to complement the purchase.

Link a specialist app to your Shopify site to create and manage upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Creating Urgency

Creating an urgency to encourage sales is a well-known sales strategy that can be very effective if done correctly. Installing a countdown timer to signal when the sale ends encourages consumers to complete the purchase there and then instead of abandoning their cart to think about it (which often leads to a lost sale).

Similarly, informing those browsing your site of how many people have recently purchased an item, or alerting them to low stock levels plays on their FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is another way of encouraging the final sale.

Referral Scheme

Customers themselves can be a valuable source of leads. Marketing data tells us that a recommendation from a friend is more likely to encourage someone to try a new brand than any company marketing technique. Offering an additional discount for referring a friend will help drive sales and generate new followers.

Post-Black Friday Analysis

Once Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, the work doesn’t stop there. Following such an intense period for an eCommerce business, analysing and reflecting can help you learn lessons and prepare for a more effective campaign next year.

In the immediate aftermath of the sale period, fulfil your commitment as a retailer. Meet delivery deadlines and maintain the high-quality customer care that you usually provide to impress new customers. Give them a positive shopping experience from start to finish.

Returns are an inevitable part of online retail and, even at this stage, you can focus on providing a seamless and straightforward returns process to encourage customer loyalty.

From a marketing perspective, you will have gathered more evidence to identify the point at which your customers enter your funnel and how their journey takes them to the point of sale. Analysing this sort of data can really influence your marketing strategy going forward and can help you manage your marketing budget and allocate funds to the channels with the highest ROI.

Need Help Getting Ready?

If your eCommerce site is hosted by Shopify, you are at the distinct advantage of having a multitude of features and apps to assist you at every stage of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday season. If you want to find out how we can help you strategise and execute your campaign, drop us a line, or give us a call on 01422 728435.