Black Friday is basically a nightmare for everyone, whether you’re working it or shopping it. In the past few years, many shoppers have actually quit shopping Black Friday in favor of the much more customer friendly Cyber Monday.
Black Friday shopping means battling crowds and lines of angry people to get a deal. Cyber Monday means sitting on your couch in your PJs to get a deal. It’s pretty clear which one wins in this scenario.
Retailers aren’t ready to give up on Black Friday yet – nor should they, there’s still plenty of room for growth. In order to bring Black Friday’s prominence back, brick-and-mortars are going to have to start improving their in-store experience. When deals can be had from the comfort of the couch, you have to prove to someone it’s worth leaving said couch for your store.
So how do you do that? Keep reading!
1. Have the right team in place.
This is the most important thing on this list. Your sales associates and floor managers will make or break an in-store experience on Black Friday. So figure out who your best sellers are (you can use your retail management system to tell you this), and come up with a schedule that ensures none of your all-stars get too fatigued (using employee scheduling software, of course!).
The employees should have the experience and knowledge to be able to help with any customer requests, and technological failures, as well as the stamina to deal with the chaos that is Black Friday.
Finally – make sure you give your employees the autonomy to make executive decisions that day on returns and sales. Allowing them to decide to give a persistent customer a sale on something that isn’t actually on sale, for instance, streamlines your day and makes the customer happy. It frees up your floor manager to actually help, instead of refereeing customer complaints, and it helps get your customers in and out of the store faster. Everybody wins.
2. Have the right tech in place.
Retail technology has advanced a boatload in the past few years, and there are plenty of tools out there now that you can use to vastly improve the in-store experience on Black Friday.
One piece of tech that is easily implemented to improve the in-store experience is mobile POS. Give your employees tablets or even smartphones to ring customers up anywhere in the store. One of the things customers hate most about Black Friday are the lines. By using mobile POS effectively, you can reduce, or even completely get rid of, lines.
Please note: on Black Friday, mPOS should be used as a supplement to the regular registers. Because this is a day where it’s very possible, even likely, that a customer will not speak to an associate until they reach the register, you want to make a clear point of sale so shoppers can direct themselves. mPOS should be used to give sales associates the ability to ring up customers they ARE working with for a better experience.
3. Offer preview sales for loyal customers.
Hit two birds with one stone with this tip. Reward your loyal customers by allowing them to avoid the Black Friday shopping nightmare by not actually shopping with you on Black Friday. There’re a couple different ways to do this.
First: In the week leading up to Black Friday (or that Wednesday), simply offer your planned Black Friday sale during regular hours to any of your loyal customers who come in the store. This method will require a non-doorbuster sale. Something like 50% off the whole store. This method has an added bonus of being a bait to get customers signed up for your loyalty program.
Second: Offer a special preview event for your loyal customers the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I would recommend doing this either after-hours, or in the very last (quiet) hours your store is open. You want to give the feel of exclusivity for this. As a shopping event, you should pull out all the stops. Bring in refreshments, play fun music, use fancy packaging, etc.
Either way you go, remember that marketing is your very best friend. Send out email reminders, give out flyers, and even call up your best customers. A Black Friday event/sale will not succeed unless you tell people. For the shopping event, you may even want to send out paper invites and take RSVPs, particularly if you sell a luxury product.
4. Make sure every register is open.
There are lots of lines on Black Friday. This is an established fact.
In your effort to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to reduce these lines, you want to make sure that every register you have is open. At the very least, this has the nice side effect of reducing the reasons the people waiting in the queue will have to be frustrated. (Reduce being the key word.)
And while you’re at it – make sure that your sales associates are acknowledging your customers’ waits. Instruct associates to talk to the people in line, giving them waiting estimates and thanking them. Make sure that one of the first things they say as they’re ringing a customer is “Thank you for waiting.” Acknowledging the struggle and engaging customers will similarly reduce frustrations.
5. Offer your customers refreshments.
A simple way of making your in-store Black Friday experience a little better is by offer your cold, tired customers something to warm and wake them. Coffee and tea are inexpensive and easy to supply. You could also consider offering some breakfast foods like granola bars, muffins, and fruit, to calm your hangry customers. Don’t forget water bottles!
Refreshments are relatively simple and easy gesture to make, but they say so much. As a quick way to improve your in-store experience, this tip can’t be beaten.
6. Consider gamifying your in-store experience.
This tip won’t work for every store, but if it works for your clientele, it’s worth trying. Up your in-store experience by turning your Black Friday sale into a treasure hunt. Place different sales around the store and offer customers a map upon entrance.
You could also use this to encourage customers to download your shopping app (if you have one). If you run the map through the app and have it connect to different beacon points around the store, you can gamify your sale like Pokemon GO. One thing you could do with this is have hidden sale points in parts of the store that customers only get if they find and ping the right beacon. For instance, you could hide a 70% off 1 item sale in a very under-visited section of your store. It gives customers a reason to walk around and see all the merchandise you offer, it makes the sale more exciting, and it absolutely requires physical attendance.
What other ways can you think of to make Black Friday an in-store experience worth attending? What has worked in the past for your store? Have you seen anything as a shopper that made the experience awesome for you?