With Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming soon, we look at how online retailers have been building up to this huge sales event.
Last year, Black Friday online sales totalled $6.2 billion, and have grown from $1.93 billion in 2013. Cyber Monday was even bigger, with $7.9 billion online sales in 2018.
While some retailers will decide not to take part in Black Friday promotions, the vast majority will be planning promotions and sales events up to and around Black Friday.
Building Awareness of Black Friday Promotions
With so much competition for traffic and visitors in the days around Black Friday, it pays to drive awareness of your sales, and get your brand in the customer’s mind.
Target’s email, sent early November, is designed to raise awareness, and get shoppers to check out offers that are already on their website.
Offering early access is also a good way to drive sign ups to its loyalty schemes and branded credit and debit cards. Users who sign up for either can access sales two days before Black Friday.
On Walmart, Black Friday deals don’t begin until November 27, but it’s teasing some upcoming offers, as well as showing a guide to the visitor’s nearest store.
Extending the Black Friday Sales Period
From being a long weekend event (Black Friday to Cyber Monday) Black Friday has changed into a much longer sales event, with most sales taking in the week before, and many beginning much earlier.
Early Black Friday sales can help retailers to gain an advantage over rivals. Traffic tends to build up in anticipation of sales events like Black Friday as shoppers check out upcoming promotions.
Offering early deals can persuade some of these visitors to buy before the big day.
There’s another good reason. Black Friday traffic has caused big retailers’ site to crash or slow in the past, so it does make sense for retailers to spread the load and ease pressure on the site.
HP has already begun to offer promotions, with a three day sale on selected products. This limited time sale, helped by the use of countdown timers, can persuade people to buy long before Black Friday.
While early offers can spread the load a little, our own data suggests that many shoppers are waiting for bigger deals on Black Friday itself.
Home Depot has taken a similar approach, with its homepage already in full Black Friday mode:
One way to address this is to offer price guarantees, as Currys PC World is doing. They offer to refund the difference if prices are discounted further on Black Friday.
This is one way to give shoppers the confidence to buy without fear of missing out on better discounts.
Driving Repeat Visits
One aim of Black Friday marketing should be to drive repeat visits by giving visitors plenty of reasons to keep coming back to the site.
Best Buy’s ‘doorbuster’ deals are a good example of this. These are time-limited daily deals which encourage shoppers to buy there and then rather than waiting.
By offering to send daily text alerts, Best Buy is also helping to build a bigger database to market its Black Friday deals at.
Kohl’s is offering $10 in ‘Kohl’s Cash’ for every $50 spent up to November 19.
This works in two ways – people are incentivized to spend more in the run up to Black Friday, but the cash (essentially a gift card) encourages people to return later to buy more.
Graham Charlton is Editor in Chief at SaleCycle. He's been covering ecommerce and digital marketing for more than a decade, having previously written reports and articles for Econsultancy. ClickZ, Search Engine Watch and more.