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Five Ways Stores Can Organize a Safe and Profitable Black Friday Sale

It’s been an unusual year that promises to have an equally unusual Black Friday. In normal times, the event inspires thousands of shoppers to storm retail stores in hopes of buying items for dirt cheap prices. They brawl over 55-inch LED TVs in Walmart and everyone goes home happy. But alas, along with many other things that make life beautiful —the pandemic might even take this way from us.

Five Ways Stores Can Organize a Safe and Profitable Black Friday Sale

As of writing, it’s not even clear who is allowing in-store shopping and who’s closing their doors on the day. 
Retailers that are letting customers in will need to be resourceful to avoid building huge crowds. Meanwhile, online stores will face their own set of challenges.

Ways to Make Black Friday Work in a Pandemic

This isn’t a Black Friday where you can let thousands of customers in and let them run amok. Instead, you need to come up with innovative methods to have a healthy fourth-quarter sale.

Five Ways Stores Can Organize a Safe and Profitable Black Friday Sale
By: Bloomberg

Here are a few ways to make this happen.

1. More than a Few Black Fridays

Instead of opening stores to hordes of customers on 27th November, retail chains should consider spreading out the deals over a certain period. 

Already, Walmart has decided to organize the sales across three weekends starting from November. Customers will have the option to acquire a wide variety of goods for exceptional discount on the first, second and fourth weekends of the month. 

Five Ways Stores Can Organize a Safe and Profitable Black Friday Sale

The offers will be available on Walmart’s website a few days before people are allowed into the stores. Shoppers will form single-file lines at the entrance after which they’d be provided with sanitized shopping carts. 

Like Walmart, Home Depot also has stretched out the discount offers. But rather than on selected weekends, the deals will be available throughout November and December. 

Small retailers have these options while the bigger and more established ones can create their own events like Amazon’s Prime Day. 

2. VR and AR to the Rescue

Back until February, virtual and augmented reality wasn’t anything more than a marketing tactic. However, the pandemic has pushed many retailers to consider this technology as a serious business driver. 

Jewelry brand Kendra Scott introduced virtual try-on when its stores were temporarily closed in March. Customers could preview earring styles directly on their ears using the iPhone's Safari browser and place an order if they liked what they saw.

Five Ways Stores Can Organize a Safe and Profitable Black Friday Sale

VR and AR will definitely have a role in Black Friday Sale. Companies will utilize virtual retail spaces that will give consumers the in-store shopping experience from the safety of their homes.

Research published by CommerceNext and Exponea showed more than 20% of American retailers invested in AR/VR in June, compared to 8% in January. This investment may prove to be crucial when the clock strikes twelve on the eve of 26th November. 

3. Online Shopping Galore

According to IBM’s 2020 U.S Retail Index report, the pandemic has accelerated the shift to online shopping by almost five years. Many people are avoiding brick-and-mortar stores altogether. 

The influx of traffic on online stores will be exceptional this year, so you would need to make sure there are no technical issues. Run multiple tests and closely monitor your site leading up to the day. You don’t want your website to crash on the big day. 

Five Ways Stores Can Organize a Safe and Profitable Black Friday Sale

While heavy traffic could be a potential issue, it is something every online retailer aspires to achieve. The visitors will either come from social media or search engines. 

Affiliate websites can be the third and extremely important source of traffic which is why you need to look into affiliate coupon programs. All online doors should be kept open for customers. 

4. Curbside Pickups for a Safe Experience

Curbside pickups have become extremely popular during the pandemic. They’re a  unique mixture of online and in-store shopping. Customers fill their carts on a retailer's website and drive up to the store and receive the items. 

This form of shopping will be all the rage on the coming Black Friday and retailers have every reason to invest in this method. 
Along with being a safe way of shopping, Curbside is also pretty convenient. It’s popular among customers as there’s no wait for the product to arrive and the shipping cost isn’t an issue either. 

Five Ways Stores Can Organize a Safe and Profitable Black Friday Sale

On the seller's side, integrating this process into the already implemented order systems will prove to be a challenging task. You would also need to ensure contactless procedures between customers and store staff. 

Another issue would be voice lines tying up as customers call to check in as they arrive. Once you sort out these problems, curbside pickups could prove to be your biggest asset come Black Friday.

5. Lottery System as a Potential Solution 

Retailers can also decrease the crowd by allocating different time slots to buyers through a lottery system. Using this method, a limited number of individuals could be allowed in the store at the same time. This would greatly decrease the risk of exposure. 

Another option is for retailers to sell a particular slot to customers, allowing no more than 10 or more shoppers (depending on the size of the place) at the same time. This would be the polar opposite of usual Black Friday madness where thousands of people are jam-packed together. 

Of course, this methodology would have a significant impact on the profit you hope to make on the day. Fewer consumers mean fewer sales. Perhaps a good blend of online sales and the lottery system might rectify this issue.

To Sum Up

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that life can be unpredictable. No one truly knows what will transpire on 27th November. But one thing is for certain —those who will innovate and adapt to the ‘new normal’ will come out as big winners. 

It’s not enough to have the best deals anymore. Retailers also need to craft new strategies to keep customers safe. 

So have multiple Black Fridays, use emerging technologies, focus your attention on online retail or come up with a system to implement social distancing. Do what you must and hope for the best. The pandemic has made Black Friday difficult but human ingenuity just might save it.

Published On: November 10, 2020

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