Another year, another Black Friday has been and gone.
Black Friday is generally the shopping spree that sends consumers into a buying frenzy and businesses into a logistical tangle, but more and more we’re seeing the sale period drag away from the big day and into a month’s worth of offers for savvy shoppers.
For many startups in the ecomm space, it’s often a make-or-break moment and unfortunately many fall prey to common pitfalls. However, if navigated correctly, it can be a golden opportunity to secure a surge in sales — like it did for our business.
So what are the valuable lessons we took away from steering through the Black Friday mayhem?
Lesson 1: Don’t wait for the big day, get in early
When it comes to shopping holidays like Black Friday, timing is everything. While others were waiting for the clock to strike midnight on the fateful day, we decided to do things our way and that meant going against the grain of a one day only sale.
We kicked off our Black Friday sale on November 9 and extended it through Cyber Monday — the infamous online shopping event that takes place the Monday after Black Friday. The result? A staggering three times growth compared to our normal sales over a two and a half week period.
Getting in early not only helped us stand out, but it also allowed us to capitalise on on being first to checkout. Consumers weren’t aware of what offers were going to be available, and with 50 percent off storewide, our offer was too compelling to pass up for most.
By staying ahead, we engaged with our audience when the retail chaos hadn’t reached its peak. The strategy paid off with 20,000 orders in the two weeks leading up to Black Friday. It taught us that in the realm of retail, the early bird gets the worm – or, in our case, the customer.
Lesson 2: Prepare for the unprecedented
The excitement of Black Friday can quickly turn into chaos, and we learned this lesson the hard way – through our stock. Having around 100,000 units in stock before November seemed like a robust plan, but demand soared unexpectedly over our pre-Black Friday sale.
We know what you’re thinking — what a good problem to have, but not when we hadn’t even reached the big day. In particular, in our industry of household goods we’re battling against the supermarket giants whose convenience factor often makes it compelling for consumers to buy with them, and not us — despite the high price tag. So, we need to ship quickly when an order is made, or we risk losing our customer.
However, as we saw the surge in orders we did pre-empt the problem and made an emergency order with our production team. We may have cut it fine, but we made it — by the time our new shipment arrived, we were almost at zero stock.
The key takeaway? Always prepare for the unexpected. In the realm of Black Friday, predicting customer behaviour is akin to weather forecasting – unpredictable. It highlighted the importance of thinking on our feet and having a production team that we could trust to expedite orders. The blunder became a blessing, teaching us that adaptability is the linchpin for surviving the Black Friday storm.
Lesson 3: Communicate with your customers.
In the chaos of Black Friday, communication is everything. While juggling orders and managing stock, we realised that our customers needed to know what was happening behind the scenes in order to manage expectations of when their stock may arrive — just a little later than usual.
We utilised our social channels to keep our customers in the loop and transparency became our guiding principle. From showcasing the bustling warehouse, to acknowledging the stock challenges, our social channels became an extension of our customer service.
At the same time, the transparency at the record rate of sales had a social proof effect, which in turn encouraged further sales — so it’s a win-win really.
As consumers ourselves, we know customers appreciate honesty, especially during high-stakes shopping events like Black Friday.
Sharing our journey – the highs and the lows – not only humanised our brand but also reassured customers that we were working tirelessly to fulfil their orders. It transformed a potential crisis into an opportunity to connect with our audience on a personal level.
The lessons we took from Black Friday can really be applied at any sale period for businesses — whether it’s Singles Day, or even EOFY.
For us, it’s not just about surviving Black Friday; it’s about thriving in the midst of the madness and capitalising on every opportunity — which is vital for a startup to truly scale and reach the next stage of growth.
- Roger and Brodie Cook are cofounders of Lucent Globe