Given the challenges faced by many retailers affected by lock downs and restricted trading in parts of Australia, Black Friday will be a welcome opportunity to make up for lost sales.
After all, Black Friday was originally initiated by American retailers who saw the event as a way to entice shoppers in the lead-up to the Christmas season, a turning point when they start to generate a profit and financially go back into the black, hence the name Black Friday.
This sentiment will not be lost on retailers this year, particularly those that rely on physical shopfronts, with Black Friday now recognised as the most popular shopping event in Australia, trumping Boxing Day as Australia’s most anticipated shopping opportunity.
The popularity of Black Friday in Australia has surged in recent years due, in part, to its traditional deep discounting. Back in 2017, only 4% of Australians reported knowing about Black Friday compared to 24% in 2021 according to research group McCrindle.
With ‘non-essential’ stores in certain parts of the country forced to temporarily close, now is the ideal time for meticulous planning around how to best clear stock and create exciting offers that will appeal to customers once stores are able to open their doors.
Anthony Di Francesco, client service director at CROSSMARK, advises why it’s important to consider best practice strategies to maximise the peak season sales period well in advance.
Meet customer demand and expectations
Review stock levels and determine which items will be marked for sale.
It is important to identify product gaps that customers will be looking for given the logistical issues emerging from global supply chains causing shipment delays and cost constraints.
Many countries are now emerging from COVID-19 and this has brought a resurgence of spending which is causing some manufacturers to increase their supply.
What is crucial during sale periods is that there is enough stock to meet demand during the first day of sales trade, especially if the item is promoted in a catalogue.
Other strategies some retailers deploy are blanket sales with up to 10, 20 or 30 per cent off selected full price products or ranges to help move stock and encourage foot traffic.
Communicate with customers
In the leadup to Black Friday, there is a compelling opportunity to capitalise on the shopper sentiment by reminding them that Christmas is just weeks away.
With consumers flooded with promotional offers, catalogues, and advertising in the days and hours prior to Black Friday, it’s also important that retailers have their house in order, shelves are stocked and customer communication about when their sale will begin is ready to go.
It is also wise to keep an eye on competitors to ensure sales offerings are competitive.
With the Black Friday shopping continuing into Cyber Monday where deeper discounted offers are skewed towards e-commerce, there is an opportunity to keep tills ringing and capture savvy customers waiting to pounce on last-minute offers or purchase for the sake of a sale.
Check in-store displays are both strategic and engaging
As customers flock to stores to purchase items, it is important to train sales staff about recommending complementary products that can provide added value to their offering.
Purchasing a laptop might need a printer, software or laptop bag. Enhancing cross-selling opportunities by optimising layouts and shelving displays can help keep customers in-store.
Retailers should pay attention to point of purchase sales opportunities and areas where customers naturally gravitate towards on their way to the front of store and checkouts.
Staffing and hygiene management
While retailers have implemented COVID-safe plans, the requirement for QR codes calls for extra staff at the front door for crowd management to ensure capacity levels are adhered to.
Additional in-store resourcing may also be required to help prepare sales stock and signage in the days leading up to or during the event to meet customer demands.
Hygiene will also play an important role with hand sanitising stations across the store, frequent cleaning of store surfaces and high touch point areas including interactive displays.
Retailers should also have a COVID-19 exposure site contingency plan in place to ensure back-up staff are available to work should any of the team need to self-isolate or get tested.
Leveraging field staff
While brand ambassadors and field merchandising staff can provide valuable assistance during Black Friday, by preparing stock and in-store sales promotions, there is an emerging shift towards virtual retail assistants and e-commerce customer service support.
Such services are becoming valuable for brands to enhance customer experience and educate customers during uncertain times when mandatory store closures are required at short notice.
For brands looking to leverage peak sales events like Black Friday, the core principals of merchandising, ticketing and promotional tactics remain crucial for maximising sales.
CROSSMARK’s in store retail services which includes live reporting helps identify out of stock items, sales trends and other inefficiencies that can make all the difference to a product’s instore performance during this important trading period.