Black Friday might be five months away – but now is the time to start preparing

(Source: Australia Post)

Black Friday – along with other high-profile online shopping extravaganzas – provides online retailers with an enormous opportunity to attract new customers. As Australia Post explains, it marks the perfect time to win the hearts and minds of existing customers and maximise sales.

However many retailers make the mistake of leaving it too late to develop strategies to optimise those opportunities. With research showing that shoppers are saving for online sale events like Black Friday months in advance – and researching products, sources and deals as early as October, smart retailers need to be ready well before then. 

For many retailers, long lead times apply for designing, manufacturing and transporting stock. So it is important to analyse data from past online shopping events to help predict optimal inventories for those looming festivals. You don’t want customers eagerly buying products on your site, only to discover the items have yet to arrive in your warehouse – or even the country – meaning delivery delays. 

Secondly, you need to carefully build a strategy for marketing and communications leading up to Black Friday. Be prepared to start teasing deals or exclusive products at least a month before the event, via emails, SMS or social media – wherever your customers or contacts have opted into receiving communications from you. On your website, have a promotional plan teasing product and pricing reveal dates. Consider installing a countdown clock across your site reminding people when your Black Friday sale begins – and once it is underway when those deals end. 

What shoppers want online

As a leading supplier of delivery services to online retailers – and the nation’s primary platform for delivering letters and parcels to consumers – Australia Post has a wealth of information about consumer shopping and shipping preferences. To help you start planning and building your Black Friday strategy, we share some of this knowledge – and some great shipping tips – with Inside Retail readers. 

As early as October, shoppers are doing online research for Black Friday, which has been one of the biggest online sale events on the e-commerce calendar for some years now, so much so that shoppers have learned to spend weeks building their lists, saving money and finding which online stores they’d like to buy from. 

During last year’s e-commerce sales season, 7.5 million Australian shoppers purchased goods online. Given that tight economic times are impacting many household budgets, it is logical to expect even more may indulge this year. Research shows that 74 per cent of last year’s shoppers saved up ahead of time so they were ready to grab the deals they wanted. Almost half of Black Friday shoppers start building lists and start saving in September. That means that by the time Black Friday arrives, thousands of consumers are cashed up, know what they want and are ready to spend. 

When are the big online sale events?

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday (collectively titled Cyber Weekend or BFCM) in late November might be the top-of-mind online sale event to most consumers, kicking off the Christmas shopping season, there are other online sales events throughout the year that are equally important to prepare for:

Afterpay Day comes around twice a year – in March and August – with the exact dates announced just before each event. Over the past few years, this has become an important date on the e-commerce sales calendar, with more than 4 million households shopping the August sale last year.

Click Frenzy: Singles Day is the largest retail shopping day in the world, led by customers in China. All the ones in the date (11/11) represent single people. Lots of Australian e-commerce businesses are jumping on this sale opportunity from their own website and social channels. While traditionally a Chinese event, the date is spreading globally, and last year many Australian companies prepared deals or promotions for shoppers at home and abroad. 

Vogue Online Shopping Night (VOSN) is a 36-hour event that showcases deals in the fashion, beauty and lifestyle arenas. This year’s was held in early May.

Amplify your online sale event strategy for savvy bargain hunters

Now that you’ve recognised the importance of the sale event and committed to building a strategy for it, it is time to consider what impression you want to give these shoppers. A great sales strategy will aim to leave a strong impression on new customers while giving loyal ones a better experience than ever.

Your online sale event strategy needs to be primed for savvy shoppers who know exactly what they want from the sales. They expect big bargains and fast delivery, they want to put a dent in their Christmas list, and they know exactly what they want to save money on.

Shipping strategies to optimise your online sale event strategy

Creating a great delivery experience during the sales will help encourage new and existing customers to come back again. So it’s important to work with a reliable delivery partner who offers a full suite of services to meet your customers’ needs. 

Here are three key delivery expectations for online shoppers today:.

Offer next-day delivery: Shoppers expect their deliveries faster than ever – and many will switch retailers for speedier shipping. Australia Post Metro and Express Post are two ways to offer next-day delivery to meet this shifting demand and give you an edge over your competitors.

Allow for flexible delivery options: Offering customers a choice of where they can have their parcels delivered gives them greater control and security over where and when they pick up their parcels. This could come in the form of a Collection Point, a Post Office or a Post Office box.

Make sure you can send to all your customers: Some delivery services won’t deliver to apartment blocks, which means you could be missing out on a big chunk of custom if you’re shipping to inner city suburbs. Furthermore, with regional online shopping growing every year, it is also important that your delivery provider can reach customers in remote locations.