Strategy

Commerce Journey #4: The Black Friday 2021 edition

Gabriela Porto
Gabriela Porto October 29, 2021
Commerce Journey #4: The Black Friday 2021 edition

The Commerce Journey is VTEX’s exclusive online event for customers all over the world. The fourth edition happened on the 14th of October and had a team of experts discussing and presenting selected content to help customers leverage their strategies for Black Friday 2021.

It is a big moment for retailers and there are key goals to be reached, hence the importance of discussing the topic of holiday shopping. From an analysis of challenges and opportunities for the upcoming holiday season to what customers can expect from VTEX, the event was full of best practices insights and tips on how to prepare for one of the biggest online sales events of the year. Here is an overview of the highlights from the talk:

  • The best market practices for all of the Black Friday stages according to  VTEX experts and how to get ready for Black Friday sales.
  • What can we learn from previous experiences and how to overcome Black Friday challenges and identify growth opportunities.
  • How is VTEX preparing to deliver an even more secure, stable, and high-performing Black Friday for customers and all you can expect from us.

Getting ready for Black Friday 2021

With changes in customer habits and the online retail industry undergoing digital transformation, it is fundamental to take a look at previous BF strategies and what worked in 2020. Now, Black Friday goes beyond just increasing sales and revenue, even though this is one of the main goals for retailers. 

One of the biggest opportunities for brands is taking advantage of online sales channels to build their space in the minds and hearts of customers. In the end, a good and solid Black Friday and Cyber Monday strategy for 2021 will focus both on sales and customer experience with flawless execution.

But how to guarantee that all ecommerce operations are ready to be executed without any major setbacks? Let’s take a step back and go over four crucial tactical topics necessary for every online store to succeed when building a Black Friday sales strategy.

Planning

To guarantee the best Black Friday deals and experiences, it is very important to have a good plan. The first step to reach that goal is by doing your homework. Review what did and didn’t work on previous years, not only during Black Friday but other major sales events, and identify the common actions and strategies among them.

The following steps would be:

  1. Start planning with product orchestration by identifying your top-selling items and confirming if you will have enough inventory to drive sales. 
  2. Keep an eye out for the risks such as the latest supply chain challenges, along with other fragile points from your ecommerce operation. 
  3. Plus, understanding how to overcome any kind of difficulty is extremely important —  in the case of a setback during the event, solutions will be implemented more quickly.

Done? Good, but that’s not where it ends.

Next, you should do some market research. How did your competition do on the last Black Friday? Where did they go right and where do you think they went wrong? Look around, ask those questions and experiment with your own strategies. 

Beyond that, any kind of industry guidance and predictions are essential to take into account when planning for the event. There are many changes going on in the digital commerce industry, with new data and privacy permissions, regulations and new features such as live shopping and conversational commerce.

Black Friday deals are a must-have, obviously. Therefore, you must prepare your promotions and offers strategically, as early as November 1st, or even sooner: According to Adobe Analytics, heavy discounts and promotions starting as early as late October succeeded at getting consumers to spend more earlier in the season.

Above all, communicate your plan and make sure that every single area of your company is aware of what will be put in place. This will be crucial for a seamless and unified experience for customers, meeting their expectations and increasing sales. 

Merchandising

Merchandising is how you will help online shoppers find the right deals. Great products create demand, but great merchandising helps building conversion. Remember the product orchestration and the top-selling products? Use your homepage to feature those items and push them to the top of landing pages by using your VTEX collections and merchandising rules. 

There are two main approaches to merchandising: optimized SEO content and urgency. Be sure that your marketing team is aware of keywords and URLs that are going to drive more traffic to your website. Tools like Google Trends, SEMRush and other free engines can be very helpful when establishing SEO value. 

Black Friday is all about correct timing, after all, the event is known for thousands of people queuing up in front of stores to get the best deals; and, as similar as possible, the same happens in the digital world. Turn on your quantity counters and make sure to track every single campaign for feedback and results. 

All in all: keep it simple. Let your customers know about the deals and savings easily, clearly communicating how they benefit, and avoid any kind of complicated promotions. The main focus should be on converting those customers and watching sales grow. This is going to be possible with a strong, content-led marketing strategy capable of bringing in qualified traffic every step of the way.

Marketing

Along with merchandising, marketing strategies are the way to the customers’ hearts. 

Email marketing

Black Friday can equal about 10 times an average day, so prepare to communicate all of your discounts and promotions in order to bring in more traffic. Customers expect more emails with everything you put in place and it is important to stay on top of their inboxes — let your email marketing team know about that. 

Still on emails, another tool that will be an ally for retailers everywhere during this holiday season is the abandoned cart email feature. Be sure that your servers are ready to fire them in under an hour after the customer has left their cart at the online store.

Social marketing

Beyond email marketing, it is important to guarantee that your brand has plans and goals for every channel available. A social media strategy with social selling, online ads on Google and Facebook, curated content with partners and other innovative scenarios such as live shopping or using an app can position your business (and brand) as part of the big deal that is Black Friday .

Website content

We have also learned that only 25% of shoppers enter our store through the homepage, so make sure that your Black Friday communications and banners are in other pages and places as well — customers must be able to feel the energy of the event no matter from which door they come in through. Sale banners on all listed pages are a simple, yet effective way to do that.

Operational excellence

A successful end-to-end journey takes into consideration every step of the process: from brand and product discovery to logistics and fulfilment. Having all of these processes properly aligned is fundamental, especially during Black Friday when time sensitivity is very important. 

From stock to shipment, orchestrate everything. Share your sales plan with everyone in order to not crash because of a high order volume. The VTEX OMS is a great tool for this because it identifies what is the best seller product, how many orders are coming in and keeps track of all orders, regardless of the sales channel, through a single source of truth. 

Last, but not least, don’t forget to set a deadline for product and website updates. We’re all very used to code freezes for development teams pre-holiday, so be sure to establish deadlines for all products published, promotions, planning, homepage and more.

Now, get ready to sell!

Voice of the customer: Cobasi’s Black Friday experience

cobasi-black-friday

Cobasi is a leading Brazilian pet store chain with an advanced omnichannel operation that has helped them to sell more effectively during peak seasons such as Black Friday. We had a chat with them to understand how their operation works and how they are getting ready for this year’s upcoming event.

We have a very strong strategy at Cobasi when we talk about omnichannel because we see that our customers enjoy collecting their orders in-store, picking it up or receiving the product as soon as possible. Today we see that 70% of our sales are shipped from or collected in-store. These strategies are very important to us when we go through Black Friday holidays, and we want customers to make stronger shopping decisions. Free shipping is a good thing on Black Friday, but fast shipping is an equally positive option that we can offer to our customers. That’s what makes Cobasi different from the rest.

Felipe Tamburus, Head of Cobasi Labs @ Cobasi

Here are some good practices to learn from Cobasi:

  • Free and fast shipping for all customers through omnichannel.
  • Special discounts for old and new subscribers and offering them exclusive products are strategies to increase brand awareness and bring new customers closer.
  • Because of the supply chain challenges, they started ordering their most popular products beforehand to avoid any problems.
  • When it comes to marketing, Cobasi is investing in social media and Google Shopping. Plus, they are focusing on a new sales channel: their mobile app, which represents 40% of online sales today.

VTEX knows that Black Friday can be a tough time for retailers, which is why we’ve been discussing this season from different angles and for the most diverse topics. Want to know more on how to prepare for Black Friday? Check the blogposts below:

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