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Black Friday: 4 ways retailers can prepare

Black Friday: 4 ways retailers can prepare

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By Steve Davidson, vice president, Warranty Products

Black Friday is days away and retailers are feeling the stress that comes with the most anticipated shopping day of the year.

More than 115 million people flock to stores or hop online to find the best deals, spending $655.8 billion between the months of November and December.

The large influx of customers, both in-store and online, can be challenging for retailers — but with this portion of the calendar accounting for as much as 30 percent of sales annually, it's critical that retailers are prepared to meet the challenge. With that in mind, here are four tips to help prepare for Black Friday — starting right now.

Create an online marketing strategy

Dedicated Black Friday shoppers remember the days when they would bundle up and camp outside their favorite store to claim the best deals. Despite the nostalgia, Black Friday has since changed with the rise of online shopping. Online sales now generate more than $117 billion during the holiday season, making online marketing more important than ever.

By utilizing online channels such as email marketing and influencer support, retailers can attract both webroomers and showroomers. Additionally, social media has grown to have a dominating influence on consumers. In fact, 63 percent of consumers who search for a business online claim they're more likely to make a purchase if a brand has an established social media presence.

Provide incentives to existing customers

No one wants to lose customers, especially during the busy holiday shopping season. Existing customers are a form of consistent revenue and, as such, should receive a certain degree of special attention from retailers. A great way to keep existing customers coming back is through the use of loyalty programs, which can work in a variety of ways. Most allow shoppers to accumulate points on a loyalty card to get cash back, discounts on their next purchase, or a free item the next time they stop by.

Seventy-seven percent of consumers say loyalty programs make them more likely to stay with brands — and Black Friday provides an opportunity to make these incentives even more appealing. For example, if customers shop at your store on Black Friday, you could offer double loyalty points or another, say, 10 percent off a popular sale item. By providing extra deals to program members, you can increase the likelihood of return visits after holiday traffic has slowed.

Make staffing a priority

To ensure smooth operations at physical locations on Black Friday, it's important to have enough employees on hand to handle the rush. Burlington Coat Factory hires 12,000 seasonal associates; Macy's, nearly 80,000; and Target, a whopping 100,000 temporary workers. While these are massive retailers who see millions of shoppers, nearly any size business can benefit from some extra help on the floor during the holiday rush.

Design the store layout

The final step in preparing for Black Friday is dressing (your floor) for success. Create a strategic plan to keep both staff and customers engaged. Develop a game plan that places displays in strategic areas and creates defined lanes that ensure smooth traffic flow. Once set, employees should be adequately briefed on displayed offers and product placements in order to quickly and efficiently help customers.

Nearly 50 percent of shoppers go to a store for a specific item they can take home immediately, rather than waiting for it to ship via an online purchase. By clearly marking product locations, merchandise will be more accessible for in-and-out shoppers, leading to instant gratification and happier customers.

Black Friday doesn't have to be intimidating. By hiring extra help, utilizing online marketing channels, properly recognizing customer loyalty, and paying extra attention to your store's layout, you can set yourself up for a successful holiday season.

Topics: Consumer Behavior, Customer Experience, Customer Service, Marketing, Staffing and Training, Trends / Statistics, Workforce Management

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