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EDITORIAL What we have learned from Black Friday – and how do we apply it

By Paul Skeldon November 24, 2017 - 11:51 am

Black Friday delivered the boom in early Christmas online sales as we all expected, but as ever it showed up where the weaknesses are in ecommerce – and since we offer you a guide as to how to build and run a successful ecommerce business, it falls entirely to us to help stop this happen.

And there is much you can learn about the basic set up and the ongoing running of your site from what happens on Black Friday and beyond.

You can learn more in Section 1: Start of the DIY ECOMMERCE GUIDE

So what have we learned from Black Friday this year and how can we apply it to the year ahead?

Black Friday is increasingly online

In the olden days of 2012, Black Friday was very much an instore affair. US Shoppers, on a rare day off from work after Thanksgiving, would flock to the shops to snap up pre-Christmas bargains. As ecommerce became more prevalent, Cyber Monday (the Monday after Black Friday) started to become a thing where online shoppers would look for online bargains. 2017, however, has seen this change totally. Now Black Friday not only starts at least five days before the actual Black Friday for many retailers, but is also becoming an online phenomenon. According to new research from digital commerce platform provider Episerver, only 12% of shoppers will head in-store to grab pre-Christmas discount deals – opting instead to shop online this year.

And that means for traffic to your site. Any peak like this will really show where the weaknesses in your website design, hosting deal and check out processes lie. So take a very close look at what happened on Friday (and the next few weeks, see below) to get a really good view of your site’s weak points, which will have an impact on your business year round if you don’t fix them.

Black Friday will slow you down

Many ecommerce websites are already painfully slow – and Black Friday and the increase in traffic that you will now see between now and Christmas, will exacerbate this slowness. Research carried out by leading ecommerce and digital agency Visualsoft found that 54% of leading e-retailers’ page speeds rated as ‘poor’, taking more than nine seconds to load, and 32% only rated as fair, taking between six to eight seconds to load. Only 2% achieved ‘excellent’ and loaded in under four seconds.

This will only be heightened over the Black Friday rush and will again show up where the weakness in your ecommerce platform and server hosting lie – maybe it is time to migrate to a better one? Analyse this and understand it to make sure that come 2018 you are no longer the slowest retailer in the block.

Black Friday is now a month long

Only 1% of shoppers claim that Black Friday marks the start of their Christmas shopping, nor does it mark the beginning of the Christmas rush. In fact, Black Friday is now one of a series of peaks in an ever-increasingly busy period that largely kicks off around Hallow’een. This means that you need to prepare for peak many more months in advance than you’d perhaps imagine. While only a few people will do their shopping in January to August, it is worth planning for the peaks around Hallow’een, Single’s Day (11 November), the week running up to Black Friday, what was Cyber Monday, the last postal date before Christmas and Christmas eve.

But it doesn’t end there: Christmas day also offers a peak of sorts, with bored, tipsy people with new smartphones, tablets and games consoles (who are “disappointed with their presents”) shopping online to relieve the tedium.

And of course, the January sales – which typically start on Boxing Day – are also an increasingly digital affair, are also proving to be another peak. Plan for the long run. You can have a holiday in late January, before gearing up for Valentine’s Day.

Marketing never ends

While the Black Friday/Christmas/January sales peak runs now over several months, remember that it only forms part of your marketing plans. While you can tailor your marketing to capitalise on Black Friday, you need to look at how that fits in with the rest of your marketing activity through the year and how you deliver around the other peaks – Valentine’s Day, Easter, Summer Holidays, Back to school, Hallow’een, Single’s Day, Black Friday etc…

While this week we have put out Module 4: Promote of our DIY Ecommerce Guide, which will talk you through all you need to know about promoting your business, this week we are happy to also feature 8 Top Tips to boost your Christmas marketing from Bazaarvoice.

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