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47546036_ml.jpgThe popularity of Black Friday has been soaring over the years. Google Trends show how each year the interest in ‘Black Friday’ tops the previous years. It is almost always the most profitable time of the year for online businesses. Not only does the last quarter of the year see increases to the number of orders, the average order sizes tend to be much bigger as well. But just how valuable is Black Friday to retailers? 

Provide a Comfortable Environment for Mass-Buying

Certainly there is an opportunity to attract new, impulse shoppers (unlike Thanksgiving and Christmas, where retail activity tends to be planned), but high-volume sales are contrasted by lower margins. Therefore, it’s necessary to create a customer experience that encourages people to buy more, in order to drive return on investment.

Ensure your Website can Handle the Traffic 

Last year, we saw many high profile retail websites crashing due to shopper demand. If you consider 64 items were sold every second during Black Friday in 2015, that’s a lot of costly downtime. Hopefully, companies will have learned their lesson and implemented an ecommerce platform that can scale to meet demand in 2016.

Customer Service Doesn’t Stop When its Busy

So what does the customer experience look like for those people on Black Friday? These are just some of the many challenges that retailers must address for this year, in order to make this stand-out date work for their business.

Ready your Supply Chain

A crashing website or store dispute can be solved relatively quickly, without causing too much damage to the customer relationship. Failing to deliver on a promise, though, can dent long-term loyalty. Therefore, the groundwork for Black Friday 2016 lies not necessarily in wowing customers with impressive promotions, but optimizing the supply chain and creating the infrastructure to support fulfilment of orders in the right place at the right time. 

Use Technology to Create Loyalty

Technology is the lynchpin in this process, as it connects the retail infrastructure with the customer experience – ensuring that a Black Friday ‘quick win’ isn’t ruined by poor post-purchase service. From simple communication updates and order status to last minute deals and additional incentives, use a system that helps you fully understand your inventory with your customer buying behavior to capitalize on the shopping frenzy. 

Because of its disruptive nature, and the fact it is immediately proceeded by Christmas, Black Friday has the genuine power to make or break festive trading. Get it right, and retailers have their customers on-side for the Christmas period and if a few minor things are amiss, tweaks can be made to optimize the customer experience throughout December.

Get it wrong on Black Friday, however, and retailers could find even loyal shoppers looking elsewhere for more impressive, reliable and fulfilling encounters during the critical Christmas trading period. 

In the meantime, what have your Black Friday experiences been like? Do you do more shopping online or in the store? What was your purchasing journey to checkout like?

Download the free Retail Networking for Dummies eBook to learn more about how a fully integrated software solution can keep up with in-store and online execution to optimize the customer experience.