The countdown is on. Black Friday's marketing plan is launched and businesses are lacing up their cleats, preparing for their Super Bowl. And they best be in top condition: the National Retail Federation expects retail sales this November and December to increase a solid 3.7%, to $630 billion, a significant leap from the average yearly increase of 2.5% over the last decade.
So, how can retailers emerge victorious on Black Friday, scoring big on the bottom line but also winning the hearts of shoppers and turning them into loyal fans? Like the Super Bowl, it requires a great game plan, so here are a Six-Pack of Best Plays for Black Friday.
- Create a great in-store experience. Today's customers do their research online, so they've already "shopped." What they want in the store is a great experience, not simply a transaction. If you can evoke a Disney-like experience with sights, sounds, and delightful interactions, customers will leave satisfied.
- Ensure advertising sets the tone you desire. If your ads include phrases like "door buster," "first 100 customers," or "limited supply" you're setting the stage for competition - and possibly stampedes.
- Keep it simple. Unless you're a top tier department store with decades of experience, don't try to pull off multiple layers of sales. Choose one sale and do it well, ensuring that your staff is solidly on point.
- Staff correctly, staff well. Black Friday is an all-hands-on-deck affair, so have your regular and seasonal staff trained on sales and policy so that they're ready to serve the masses. Nationwide, retailers are expected to hire between 700,000 and 750,000 seasonal workers this holiday; they should be indistinguishable from long-term employees. Put your best people on the sales floor for one-on-one customer care.
- Use technology to speed service and reduce lines. Consider using portable checkout systems like an iPad POS so staffers can checkout customers more quickly. Or for a solution that virtually eradicates lines, use queue management technology that offers customers the option to return to the checkout at an assigned time, with no waiting. The result: more time to shop!
- Keep crowds safe. To avoid overcrowding in one spot, strategically create a floor plan where the most popular items are spaced out. If there are a limited number of items available for a special sale, consider putting them behind the counter to avoid tugs-of-war! Hire extra security and loss prevention officers.
With the proper strategy, the odds will be in your favor for a solid win on Black Friday.