It’s that time of the year again when people are preparing themselves to splurge on cheap deals and offers in the run up to Christmas. With the most anticipated consumer free-for-all being Black Friday and Cyber Monday which this year falls on 23rd November and 26th November.

In 2017, an astounding £1.7 billion was spent, up 11.7% on the previous year. The likelihood that this year will see an increase is high. Since the concept of Black Friday was imported from the US to the UK around 6 years ago sales have increased year on year. As in 2017 Black Friday falls before most customer’s payday, which does mean that people will be searching for better deals this year and potentially spending less in December than normal. It’s also likely that we’ll see more week-long sales or Amazon style deals running until the end of the month with changes on a daily basis.

So what do you need to do to get ready for it? Read on for some hints, tips and resources that will help you ensure this Black Friday is a great one!

If you haven’t started thinking about BF/CM 2018 then now is the time to start. Carve out some time on your calendar this week and get some plans in place. With less than 40 days to go, having a strategy and implementation plan in place will make the next month easier, and help pull in those all important sales.

Question mark on a black board

Product Choices:

The first thing to think about is what products you can and want to offer up for the joy of the masses. It may be that you have a large amount of certain items on hand that need to go or some trending product that you know will sell well. Alternatively, it may be that you have some low margin stock items that you can discount for break-even or a smaller margin which can be coupled with some high margin upsell items.

Think of the Curry’s and Argos sales of Xbox and PS4 consoles, these high cost, low margin items are perfect for BFCM deals because they can be coupled with trending games, accessories like gaming headphones or extra controllers.

Do you have any ‘WoW’ products that you can discount out for high impact? Retailers like to fill their header space with the latest 4K HDR TV with discounts worth £100’s. From a consumer point of view seeing a product with hundreds of pounds knocked off gives an immediate perception of being able to grab some deals.

Before moving on do a quick sanity check of your product choices. Look at a worst case scenario where people only buy a specific product and a majority don’t pick up the upsells. How will that leave your profit line? Will it effect your ability to put on sales for the Christmas period? Will it help reduce your storage costs?

Roll all of the information into one place and ensure you’re happy with it all. Good? Then let’s move on…

Align Your Products:

If you’re going for the upsell option make sure the products you’re showing customers are aligned to the main product. It’s no good offering them money off a rug and then offering a kettle as an upsell. The 2 don’t align and the likelihood is that they’ll just skip over it and you’ll end up with a lower average order value.

Egg timer on a black background

Copy & Imagery:

One way to subconsciously guide customers to buying the ‘right’ items is to utilise the copy on your site. Ensure that it’s guiding them in the right direction without being too obvious. Make sure that the copy suggests some scarcity, use phrases and words like “limited”, “just”, “get it before it’s gone” and “ all of the clichés we see are cliches for a reason – because though we may dislike them, they do work.

Have pictures on the site with the 2 or 3 products together and push the idea that those products just can’t be separated. They should definitely be purchased in one order, and they need to be bought now before someone else snaps up this amazing deal!

Get some new hero images ready to put up on your site. Feature the products on offer, show the savings people can get and mention when the sale starts and finishes.  

Build Some Hype:

So we’ve established what products you’re going to offer, how much you’re going to discount, what products you’re going to upsell, some exciting site copy and how it’s going to affect your profit line.

Now is the time to start building up some hype. Prep a casual email to send out to your subscribers letting them know that you’re taking part in BFCM. Give some hints about what may be on offer. Ensure the wording and imagery is catered to your audience and aligned with your brand. They’re subscribed to your newsletter for a reason, whether that’s because they trust your brand or love your products or both. You want these customers to come and check out your site on the day/week so don’t push too hard.

Remember, today’s consumers are much more savvy and cynical than they used to be. There are also multiple sites people can check to make sure retailers haven’t increased prices in October just to discount back to normal in November.

We need customers to trust our offering, be encouraged to come check out said offerings and, ideally, spend some money. If you have a specific group of highly loyal customers, think about offering them a specific deal as a way of saying thank you for their continued custom. It’s a great marketing tool because it’s genuine, these people keep you in business and even a small offer will reinforce their brand loyalty to you.

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Couple this email(s) with some site imagery. If you’ve got an image carousel start interspersing some hints about upcoming deals. Get some social media posts lined up and ready to go. Consumers are going to be inundated with deals and promotional material for an extended duration. That means that they may forget about you, don’t let them. Post some InstaStories, Go Live on Facebook showcasing products, use whatever means you have to build an interest in your deals.

If you’re offering discount codes or vouchers and want to be super organised use different codes for each social media you’re on. Use a particular one for Instagram, another for Facebook, a third for the High Loyalty Customer email shot. This will allow you to better analyse the effectiveness and responsiveness of the various advertising streams. Useful data for next year!

It’s an accepted principle within marketing that consumers need 7 ‘touch points’ before they internalise or act on your call to action or offer. So cover your bases and you’ll have people flooding to your shop when the deals open.

Paid & Retargeting:

If ever there was a time to spend some of your marketing budget then Black Friday and Cyber Monday is that time. Allocating some of your budget to some paid ads on social media, Facebook and Google retargeting and Google ads it’s going to be money well spent. Driving traffic to your site from previous customers or newsletter subscribers is all well and good but getting some new customers in is also beneficial.

Spend some time putting together great ad copy and imagery for each social account. Use a tool like Desygner or Stencil to take some of the hard work out of the process – and ensuring you’re using the right size for each one.

Make sure that you set up each one under a new campaign so that you can analyse it’s effectiveness. And, ideally send the traffic to a bespoke landing page.

Landing Pages:

A landing page is a bespoke page on your site that is highly directed, relevant and specific for the ad your running. It’s the first point of direct interaction with your customer on your site and needs to be the best you can make it. This post from UpCity gives some great tips on making a high converting landing page. Or just Google “landing page tips for eCommerce” and embrace the tips and hints to enhance your site.

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Shipping & Returns:

For better or worse, there are likely to be some customers who change their mind about a product they purchased or who bought the wrong size. Having a clear and fair Returns policy will reduce the number of live chat queries you get and will also encourage potential customers that you’re a trustworthy business.

Another factor they’ll be looking at is the Shipping. If they’re saving money but then spending a chunk of it on shipping they may just change their mind. Worse still, if they don’t see anything about shipping until the checkout they may lead to the two most dreaded words for e-tailers: abandoned carts.

Look at your business and the projected sales over the duration of Black Friday/Cyber Monday and assess if you can offer discounted or even Free shipping. People are more likely to spend an extra £5/£10 to hit the minimum basket threshold for free shipping than pay an extra £3.99. It’s crazy but it works.

Also make it clear how long the shipping will take. Managing customer expectations early will save you lots of follow-up “When will I receive….” emails later on. You don’t necessarily need to offer next day shipping just be clear about it and do your absolute best to deliver on time. If for some reason the shipping is delayed, let customers know. If you’re open and honest it will go along way to building brand loyalty.

Be Present:

If all goes well then you’ll have a good amount of people visiting your site and checking out what offers you have available. A proportion of these will have questions, either because they can’t find the answer quickly or because you haven’t answered it already. Hopefully they’ll get in touch with you before bouncing off to another site. So it’s worth your time to make that initial contact as easy as possible. If you haven’t already then get a live chat function setup on your site, Facebook offer a free Live Chat integration or you can use a third-party chat app like SmartsUpp. Both are quick and easy to set up.

Be on the end of the live chat/phone – people will have questions about offers, products, returns, shipping, what payment methods you have, etc, etc, etc. Be there to help them out. See if you can draft in a family member or friend to help you out even if it’s just so you can grab lunch or a quick coffee?

A Second Opinion:

Ask a family member or friend to check everything you’ve done. We’re all only human and for better or worse we make mistakes. Ask your family member, friend, impartial third-party to look at what you’ve come up with and check it.

Are there any typos? Do the images look good or are they pixelated? Are they the right size for that social media stream and your website? Is it encouraging people to come to you to buy your products? Is your email copy and imagery ok? Are the right parts showing above the fold on your landing page?


"Setting Goals is the first step in turning the invisible into visible." - Tony Robbins

Analytics Before, During & After:

Analytics for eCommerce is as fuel for Cars. One cannot go without the other. If we don’t measure the activity on eCommerce shops then we can’t improve it or even see where we may be going wrong. There are hundreds of tools out there that will help you do this. The most obvious and most widely known is Google analytics.

If you are not using GA then you really should be. It’s super simple to get setup and after some time using it can give really valuable data back. It can tell you where visitors are coming from, how many bounce away, track conversions and goals and a visitor’s journey through your site. This is all great information that you can use to action changes to landing pages, home pages, advertising streams, etc.

On top of Google Analytics, you can set up some heat mapping software. Tools like HotJar, which is free up to 2000 views per day, is ideal for this. It visually tracks where people are clicking, scrolling and hovering their mouse. It also shows you where your page fold is so that you can optimise it for next time. This cumulative data is really useful for continually enhancing your site to boost conversion rates and reduce bounce rates.

It’s definitely worth doing an ‘after action’ report following the sales. Finding out how many people bought the recommended upsell items, how many used each discount code, your average order value and how that compares to an average day, what your margins were, how that effected your profit margin, etc, etc. Again, this is useful data to see where you could have improved and what went well. Save this and bring it out next year to strengthen your offering(s).

Get Organised:

Even without these sales, it’s a busy time of year. We all have things that need to be done before the big Christmas rush. So if you’re going to be short on time then plan ahead.

  • Schedule the emails you want to send (MailChimp is a great tool for this)
  • Schedule Social Media posts (Hootsuite or Buffer can help)
  • Setup your Coupons/Discount Codes and the Start and Finish dates
  • Set Calendar Reminders to add ‘Sale’ prices to products
  • Ensure your fulfilment service is ready to go
  • Confirm you have enough stock to cover you
  • Will your chat/phone line be covered for the duration

Make a list of each thing you need to get done then dedicate some time each day to work through it. And enjoy the deliciousness of ticking each one off as you go. 

Did we miss anything in our list? Let us know in the comments below.


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