The best ways ecommerce brands can compete this Black Friday

By Ian Nadeau on October 27, 2022

Black Friday used to separate customers who want deals from those willing to work for them. Accessing the day’s deep discounts required shoppers to head out in the early morning hours and line up outside a store in the hopes of grabbing one of the limited hot-ticket items. Fortunately, ecommerce gives consumers a more convenient option on Black Friday by allowing them to sort through sales from the comfort of their couch. 

Last year, Black Friday saw 88 million Americans shop online, with an overall sales total of $8.9 billion — the average adult spent $430. Of those 88 million, 43% shopped using a mobile device. While a giant audience is shopping online during Black Friday, their attention is being swallowed up by a select few ecommerce brands. Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Costco account for nearly 43% of digital Black Friday sales. 

How can brands compete when the advantage of being the closest store to a consumer on Black Friday is no longer the key differentiator? What is the backup plan when the biggest ecommerce sites are able to offer consumers greater discounts? 

Rather than trying to go toe-to-toe with Goliath, strategize this Black Friday and break through the noise by focusing on the customer, the medium, and the item. Below we guide you through how every ecommerce brand can compete this Black Friday. 

Early bird gets the worm

Every ecommerce website will be running a Black Friday campaign. Getting started sooner than later means your audience can notice your upcoming sale and mark their calendars before their attention gets overtaken by all the other competitors messaging them at once. Start building awareness and anticipation for your Black Friday promotion months in advance by dropping exclusive insights to newsletter subscribers and social followers. By doing this, you not only target an audience who’s interested in your product, but you can also increase your email and social lists by gating insider deals. 

Be vocal through social 

Millennials were the biggest spenders on Black Friday last year, and 79% of them use social media multiple times per day. Brands such as IKEA and DECEIM have leveraged their social platform to compete with Black Friday juggernauts by advertising something more than discounts. IKEA created a #BuyBackFriday campaign that doubled the store credit given to those looking to sell their IKEA furniture back to the company. DECEIM did a #Slowvember promotion that offered deals for the entire month of November — allowing the company to run deals sooner and later than other brands. Both these social campaigns are using innovation to compete rather than running a traditional Black Friday promotion. 

Send in the influencers 

Collaborating with mega, micro, and macro influencers can help expand the reach of your Black Friday campaign exponentially. When used correctly, influencers are responsible for nearly 65% of viewers visiting a company’s website or app, 46% of viewers converting either offline or online, and 31% of viewers following the promoted brand. Further, brands generate $6.50 for every dollar invested in influencer marketing on average — giving ecommerce sellers the opportunity to recoup the margin loss on discounted items.

Target your VIPs

A segmentation study by Klaviyo found that VIPs account for only 3% – 5% of a brand’s email list. While the number may seem like a small group to focus on, this segment spends 3x more per customer than the rest of the database. Rewarding those who most frequent your site with the best offers (like Baublebar did with their 35% off everything for 12 hours only VIP promotion last Black Friday) not only makes them feel like their business is appreciated, it gets them excited to shop and save with their preferred brand.  

Optimize site navigation 

Did you know that 94% of consumers expect your website to be easy to navigate? Additionally, 70% of shoppers will leave your site if they feel that the onsite search and user experience is poor. The competition of getting a consumer to your site on Black Friday is already hard enough, don’t lose them because they can’t find what they’re looking for. Prepare your site for the upcoming traffic by ensuring that it can deliver accurate search results using in-session analytics to understand the query and deploy the right product or service. You can also create a dedicated Black Friday page where all the sales are listed. Pro tip: include the number of inventory left across your top items to entice on-the-fence shoppers. 

Rewards program reminders 

Customers who participate in a rewards program prefer your brand and are often your biggest revenue generator. Reminding these frequent shoppers of their rewards and helping them apply those towards Black Friday can not only draw their attention to your website on the big day — the use of their points can also push your discounts beyond what the ecommerce leaders are able to match. 

Corner the marketplace  

Amazon and Walmart combine to capture nearly 30% of all Black Friday sales. Further, 46.7% of all product searches start on Amazon. What do these two giants have in common? Both offer a marketplace for other brands to sell their products. By listing your best sellers on Amazon and Walmart, you can leverage their popularity to draw attention — making the influx of searching shoppers aware of your brand. In 2021, 52% of consumers were first-time buyers. Getting a purchase from a marketplace can create a lifelong customer and brand ambassador.  

Cross-sell opportunities  

The king of ecommerce promotions, Black Friday, has trained shoppers to wait for expensive items to go on sale before making a purchase. However, not every item has to go on sale during the event. Make up for margin loss by upselling and cross-selling products and services — such as a protection plan on that new TV, a case for the upgraded phone, or a full-price piece from the newest collection that perfectly compliments the discounted wardrobe. Taking advantage of the increased site traffic to boost sales outside of the discount section makes it possible to capture more revenue. 

With an ever-increasing number of ecommerce brands competing for consumer dollars on Black Friday amid a challenging economic climate, being competitive requires innovation. Get started on promoting your deals early and continually remind shoppers of what’s to come to build excitement. When the main event arrives, ensure that your website is optimized throughout the search, cart, promotion, and checkout processes. And remember, there’s more in your Black Friday toolbox than trying to out-discount the leading ecommerce sites. 

Learn more about how you can optimize promotions in our guide to incentivizing conversions and reducing margin loss.

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