How to Prepare for Your First Black Friday Sale Online. A Complete Checklist.
The holidays are an exciting time for online retailers. As an ecommerce business, you’re getting ready for the busiest time of year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You know there’s lots to do to get ready so you can execute your Black Friday marketing, offer great deals, delight customers and turn a profit. This complete checklist has lots of tips for Black Friday that will help you run a successful sale that lasts well into the festive season.
Start Planning for Black Friday Sales as Early as Possible
It’s never too soon to get your marketing campaigns and ecommerce store ready for an epic Black Friday sale — in fact, the time to start is now. The sooner you prepare, the more confident you’ll be that you’ve covered all your bases.
Once you know the unique actions you need to take to make your Black Friday campaigns a reality, work back from the fourth Friday in November. Build a schedule around supplier and partner lead times so your inventory, marketing, staff, processes, sales channels and other elements are in place.
❒ Review all the activities you will need to do.
❒ Double-check you’ve noted down every task.
❒ Create a practical schedule based on expected lead times.
❒ Revise your schedule as everything becomes clearer.
Understand Likely Product Demand on Black Friday and Beyond
Use sales and marketplace data to understand projected demand during Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond. Many sales and inventory tools come with AI-powered forecasting abilities, so you can simulate varying customer needs.
Make sure you’re aware of new products coming out in your retail niche and get samples, product descriptions and photos ahead of time so they’re part of your Black Friday offerings. If you need to store large amounts of stock, reserve warehouse space to accommodate inventory levels.
❒ Source product demand data to understand likely inventory levels.
❒ Create various forecasting models based on different scenarios.
❒ Review the latest product offerings to find items that will appeal to your customer base.
❒ Complete a quality review of new products.
❒ Talk to warehouse and storage providers about inventory capacity.
Agree on Lead Times and Demands with Suppliers
Discuss your Black Friday/Cyber Monday inventory requirements with suppliers. Specifically:
❒ Establish expected customer demand for each item and ensure the supplier can meet those needs.
❒ Understand potential delays between ordering and receiving stock (the lead time), so you can plan ahead and hold enough inventory.
❒ Take advantage of discount options for products based on quantity ordered and other factors.
❒ Check on return options for unsold, unwanted or faulty products.
❒ Confirm the correct order channels so your orders are filled and dispatched as quickly as possible.
❒ Review supplier commitments and service level agreements to make sure they meet your needs.
Order Your Black Friday Inventory Early
No matter how good your suppliers are, you don’t want to take chances with your stock levels. Once you understand customer demand and supplier capacity, get your Black Friday orders in. If you’re selling through a third-party marketplace like Amazon, ensure you have enough time to get products to their warehouses.
❒ Establish the quantity of each item you want to order, including new items.
❒ Create orders with suppliers and arrange for delivery.
❒ Constantly monitor your inventory during Black Friday and Cyber Monday and set automatic reordering where needed.
Understand Your Black Friday Pricing and Discounts
Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are all about the discounts, but you still want to make a healthy profit. Get a rock-solid understanding of how much every item costs, including manufacturing, transportation, distribution and overheads like storage, utilities and staff salaries.
Work out your standard pricing based on your normal profit margin, and calculate how much of a discount you can offer while still making money. Build these calculations into your original product pricing and any discount codes or coupons.
❒ Calculate the per-item cost of each product, factoring in manufacturing, distribution, supply, third-party fees and other expenses.
❒ Calculate overall business expenses not covered in the item cost, including salaries, rent, utilities, storage, etc.
❒ Apply some of the overall business cost to each item to work out the total cost from sourcing through to customer delivery.
❒ Understand reasonable pricing for the item based on desired profit margin, competitors and the state of the marketplace.
❒ Factor in discounts and coupons for each product line to ensure you’re still making a profit even after they are applied.
Review All of Your Sales Channels and Ensure You’re Ready to Go
The chances are that you sell products across multiple channels, so it’s important to have a strategy for each one.
❒ List all of your sales channels so you can track progress on optimizing them. These might include your own ecommerce store, Amazon FBA, eBay, Facebook Shops, Etsy, Google Shopping and others.
❒ For each sales channel, ensure you have efficient processes for uploading product details and updating listings and prices.
❒ Get your product details in place as early as possible so you can set them live at the click of a button.
❒ Use ecommerce, monitoring and inventory management software to track sales across all channels, including automatic reordering.
Get Your Black Friday Marketing Ideas Ready
You don’t want to be rushing marketing and promotion at the last minute, so get your marketing collateral in place now.
❒ Create targeted marketing campaigns across relevant channels to target your likely audience.
❒ Create text and images for online advertising.
❒ Put aside budget to pay for your Black Friday marketing.
❒ Make sure you understand how to update each marketing channel.
❒ Establish promotions, coupons and discount codes and include these with your marketing.
❒ Review your most successful promotions and increase marketing spend if they are driving demand.
Make Sure You Can Handle Increased Demand
Black Friday and the following weeks are going to be busy. You need to optimize various parts of your business to meet customer needs.
❒ Review your website hosting to ensure it can cope with surges in traffic.
❒ Look into your ecommerce and shopping cart system so it functions as it should.
❒ Hire staff to manage increased order amounts, customer service, picking, packing and distribution.
❒ Optimize your workflows, from receiving orders to sending them out and dealing with returns.
❒ Backup important website information.
Our Black Friday tips for business owners are a great starting point, but there may be more you can do, such as getting backup suppliers and distributors if you have an issue with the supply chain or creating a referral program to incentivize sharing.
Follow this Black Friday checklist to get everything you need in place and ensure you stay agile on the day and beyond. That way, you’ll sell great products, meet customer needs, bring in revenue and help your business thrive. Good luck!