Before most families even have time to finish a slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner, millions of Americans will be lining up outside stores across the nation for that beloved, hated, and even dangerous tradition known as Black Friday.
And along with its reputation as the biggest shopping day of the year—the average American spent an estimated $380.95 each on Black Friday in 2014—it has also become one of the most stressful shopping days for retailers big and small.
As we gear up for Black Friday this year, let's look at a few ways small business owners can prepare themselves, and their stores, to make the most out of the weekend.
Tip 1: Start early
Start preparing a few weeks in advance. Anticipate demands and stock your best-sellers to ensure that you have enough on your shelves. If you have a unique product or service, make sure to run your advertising campaigns and create awareness around your brand.
You can also consider hiring temporary employees for the holiday season, if necessary. By being proactive, you can maintain composure even when things get hectic or go wrong.
Tip 2: Keep your inventory organized
We've all seen the videos of shoppers stampeding through the doors in search of the top item on their wishlists. It's madness. As a business owner, you can make the experience a little less chaotic for your customers and staff by organizing your shelves and inventory.
Group items based on categories like size or color. This will save your employees time when asked about an item and will also keep the customer'service experience as pleasant as possible.
Tip 3: Have faster and more flexible check-outs
This year, utilize technology like a mobile point of sale (mPOS) to save time and trouble. This means automated counters and more staff to manage the crowd. An mPOS is a cost-effective solution to manage long lines during the busiest parts of the day. It also lets you offer multiple means of payment. Faster checkout means happy customers. And happy customers mean returning customers.
Tip 4: Have buffer stock in hand
While many large retailers use scarcity as a marketing technique, the last thing you want on a Black Friday is to run out of your top sellers. Keep yourself well-stocked in advance to meet with the demand of the crowd. Look at reports from previous years to help decide the right amount of stock.
Tip 5: Spruce up your online store
If you're not selling online it's time to start because Cyber Monday is the digital Black Friday. And while physical sales on Black Friday are consistently falling every year, online sales are increasing. In fact, shoppers across the U.S. and Europe set record numbers on Cyber Monday last year with almost $130 billion in sales.
Offer deep discounts on your online catalogue, gift coupons, and free shipping so that they become your loyal customers. Remember, there is going to be heavy traffic on this day so "stress test" your site to make sure it can handle the surge in traffic. Also, optimize your site for mobile devices so as to provide an excellent experience to your mobile users.
If you have tips of your own, do share it in the comments below. We hope you have a prosperous holiday season.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Zoho!