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Black Friday E-commerce Strategy: Your Guide to Winning in 2023

Last year, e-commerce shoppers spent a record $9.12 billion on Black Friday, continuing a trend of upward growth going as far back as 2014. Can we expect the same results for Black Friday 2023? Are you truly ready to capture peak Black Friday sales?

As sales on Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) have increased, competition has intensified. To stand out and win this year, you’ll need to know where to focus your time, energy, and resources.

Whether it’s improving your e-commerce tech infrastructure, stockout-proofing your inventory, or launching irresistible deals to boost your on-the-day sales, there are endless ways to maximize your Black Friday success. The only question is, where should you start?

Here are some of the core business areas to optimize for Black Friday 2023.

BFCM E-commerce Readiness

  • Strengthen Your Inventory and Order Fulfillment
  • Plan Your Holiday Season Deals
  • Amp Up Your Advertising
  • Optimize for Search
  • Perfect Your Checkout Process
  • Create Your ‘Best Black Friday’ Budget

Black Friday E-commerce Strategy: What’s Different This Year?

Black Friday is the sales boost online retailers can count on, but this year things are a little less predictable.

Shifting consumer behavior combined with increased inflation and rising storage fees means you’ll need to be even more mindful of which parts of your business will deliver the best ROI on your Black Friday investments.

Here’s a snapshot of what we might expect to see this year:

  • A shift towards essentials and lower-cost options as pandemic-era savings diminish and consumers become more mindful of their online shopping habits.
  • Increased competition and ad prices as the number of US-based e-commerce sites has tripled since 2019.
  • Steady (but not jaw-dropping) growth as shoppers aim to maximize their reduced capacity to spend by taking advantage of limited time Black Friday deals.

This year’s holiday retail sales growth is predicted to be between 3.5% and 4.6%, down from 7.6% in 2022. However, many experts believe last year’s Black Friday growth was largely due to inflation.

While the current market signals are anything but clear, Black Friday 2023 is still a great opportunity to increase your sales. You’ve just got to know which parts of the business to apply your focus.

6 Ways To Level Up Your Store For Huge Black Friday Wins

1. Strengthen Your Inventory and Order Fulfillment

Inventory distortion will cost retailers nearly $1.8 trillion this year and Black Friday can often be a nightmare for stockouts and supply chain issues.

With so much at stake during the holiday season, you can’t afford to get it wrong with inventory. Here are some ways to make sure your products get to your customers on time.

Hit Your Fulfillment Deadlines

Keep a close eye on deadlines to make sure all your inventory is into FBA, your 3PL(s), and all other fulfillment locations by the date advised by your provider. 

How to Prep: For Amazon sellers, the last day to get inventory to Amazon warehouses is November 1, 2023. Keep a close eye on Seller Central in case of any updates.

Diversify Your Providers

It’s always a good idea to have backup options in place in case of any fulfillment and supply chain issues resulting from the increased volume in seasonal sales. Make sure there’s a Plan B (and C and D) in place to keep your inventory moving no matter what.

How to Prep: Consider new sourcing alternatives, fulfillment providers, warehousing nodes, and shipping carriers to ensure a reliable end-to-end supply chain this holiday season. Look for partners that have the location, capacity, and cost profile you need.

Automate Your Supply Chain

With the rise of automation and AI-driven inventory planning, now is a great time to uplevel your supply chain by tapping into deeper sales and inventory data with real-time notifications about sudden changes in demand or live shipments.

How to Prep: Select an inventory planning solution that can tell you how much of each SKU to order and when based on customizable forecasts that align with your unique business. A platform that includes end-to-end supply chain visibility may also be able to provide automated recommendations for where to store your inventory and how to avoid stockouts without overspending on warehouse space or tying up your working capital in inventory that won’t sell.

Give Your Customers Last-Mile Insight

Fast delivery is always important, but the rise of e-commerce marketplaces like Shein are proof that customers are willing to be a bit more patient, as long as they know exactly where their packages are.

How to Prep: Offer online shoppers detailed tracking information, an easy way to communicate with their courier, and strong customer support at every step. Tools and apps like ShipStation, AfterShip and Shippo can help add a layer of transparency that keeps your customers informed.

Create Your Customer Service Contingency Plans

Have a plan in place for what you’ll do when stockouts and delays inevitably occur — including how you’ll manage customer service, expedite products to priority customers, and retain customer loyalty if issues arise.

How to Prep: If you’re selling on multiple channels this holiday season, make sure your customer communications are routing to one central place. Update your customer support Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), including relevant email templates with correct information regarding your return policies and clear steps for managing a case backlog.

2. Plan Your Holiday Season Deals

Great deals are the cornerstone of Black Friday success. With experienced online shoppers scouring the internet for the best deals, you can’t afford to stamp a 20% off sticker on your slowest selling inventory and call it a day. Think strategically about how you can give your customers what they want, while still maximizing your ROI.

Create strategic discounts and offers

Savvy shoppers will be using price tracking apps to make sure your deals are actually deals, so transparent pricing will be crucial for both your profits and your credibility. Keep a close eye on what your competitors are offering and be prepared to match or beat their deals.

How to Prep: Pricing is a moving target, especially in the current climate. If you can afford it, aim for deep discounts of up to 40-55% off, or your lowest prices on each SKU. If deep discounting isn’t aligned with your brand or product, limited time offers and exclusive holiday product bundles are  great ways to maximize your sales and average order value (AOV).

Time your Black Friday promotions

To make the most of the rise in early holiday shopping, consider getting in front of shoppers earlier in the year with sales events like Prime Day or Prime Big Deal Days. Stay consistent with your email marketing and tailor your subscriber offers to optimize your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

How to Prep: Look for ways to create a sense of urgency around your deals and offers. This could be using your Black Friday marketing strategy to let customers know that only the first 100 people can take advantage of your exclusive Black Friday deal, or adding a pop-up timer to your website’s homepage to let shoppers know in real-time when your deals will expire.

Cater to your VIP customers

Everyone wants deals, but no one wants to feel like just another member of the Black Friday “herd”. Segment your email list to offer exclusive offers for loyal customers and other high-value VIPs. 

How to Prep: Keep your exclusive offers simple and intuitive to execute, with direct links instead of complicated coupon codes wherever possible.

Bundle your holiday products

Bump your AOV with product bundles curated for Christmas or other key Q4 holidays. This is also a great way to offload excess inventory while delivering real value to new customers.

How to Prep: Aim to offer a discount of 30-40% on at least one product in the bundle. By increasing your AOV incrementally, you can offer deeper discounts while maintaining your e-commerce profits and keeping your customers happy.

3. Amp Up Your Advertising

With increased competition for holiday sales, you can’t count on a few PPC ads on Amazon to get the job done. You need a killer Black Friday marketing campaign that gets customers primed to spend on the big day.

Increase Your Social Spend

Social media is key for learning about what your customer wants and serving it to them. As with Amazon Ads, the cost of social media advertising is increasing. But new trends in social commerce bring new opportunities to stand out.

How to Prep: If you’re one of the many retailers who won’t have time to actively adjust every ad for peak conversions, consider investing in marketing tools that do it for you. For example, Ampd helps sellers automatically launch customized, self-optimizing Google Ads to your Amazon products. You could also dedicate a portion of your BFCM marketing budget to testing out new advertising strategies like TikTok Spark ads.

Partner with Micro Influencers

You don’t need a Kardashian to connect with your audience. Smaller creators are often considered more trustworthy when it comes to product recommendations, but they can also require a bit more coaching and collaboration before they’re ready to get up and running with your promotions.

How to Prep: Get samples into the hands of a select group of micro influencers who can review your products and start promoting your deals. You can reach out organically or work with an influencer-matching platform like Grin or Upfluence to start building connections.

Personalize Your Marketing

70% of consumers say they spend more time with brands that provide seamless, personalized customer experiences. In addition to using segmented emails to customize exclusive deals for loyal shoppers, look for other ways to make your customer feel seen. 

How to Prep: There are multiple ways to personalize your Black Friday Cyber Monday deals. Personalized product recommendations, SMS messages, and cart abandonment emails with targeted messaging can all go a long way toward increasing your conversions.

Emphasize Urgency

Take advantage of the increased traffic to drive your on-the-day sales or build buzz for the launch of a new product.

How to Prep: Countdown timers, personalized emails and social media updates are all great ways to generate a sense of scarcity and anticipation that keeps customers motivated during the busy holiday shopping season.

4. Optimize for Search

Search engine marketing (SEM) is always a great way to win online sales. To drive maximum traffic to your product pages on Black Friday, you’ll need to beef up your marketplace listings and boost your Google rankings, while making sure your site is ready for the extra traffic.

Optimize Your Site

In 2022, more adults shopped online using their smartphones than any other devices. Use natural placement of target keywords to improve your Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings. Test all web pages to make sure they are fully optimized for a variety of mobile devices.

How to Prep: Test for site speed, full mobile functionality, and keyword optimization across all product landing pages. If you’re an Amazon seller and you don’t already have an optimized Amazon storefront, now is the time to build one. Full service partners like ChannelKey can set you up with a fully-customized storefront, or you can work with your own team to build yours from the ground up.

Optimize Amazon Listings for Google

Even if your Amazon listings are in great shape, winning a top position in Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is an undeniable way to win more sales now and in the future.

How to Prep: Tweak your Amazon listings using long-tail keywords for Google and bottom-of-the-funnel keywords for Amazon. You can do it yourself or hire an SEO specialist to help. As you build your search strategy, consider ways search may change in the near future. For example, you may want to start optimizing for conversational or AI search.

Get More Backlinks

Consider developing short- and long-term strategies for building more backlinks to your product pages to boost your organic views and rankings. If you don’t have the time or internal resources, try outsourcing to a link-building agency.

How to Prep: As you optimize, make sure you’re considering more than just keywords. Product imagery, intuitive interfaces, easily digestible chunks of texts — there are many ways to improve the user experience (not just the algorithm’s).

5. Perfect Your Checkout Process

For Shopify and other off-Amazon sellers, a frictionless checkout experience should be top of mind. Even the tiniest holdup in the payment process could send a customer straight into the arms of a competitor.

Let Customers Buy Now and Pay Later

Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) purchases skyrocketed last Black Friday, increasing by 78% over the previous week. This one simple change to your payment options could result in a major uptick in sales.

How to Prep: A Buy Now, Pay Later option may not only serve to improve your conversions, but also increase your AOV while making your higher-priced products more accessible to online shoppers. Consider implementing at least one BNPL option at checkout.

Friction-Proof Your Process

Cart abandonment around Black Friday last year was close to 80%. As usual, one of the biggest culprits was friction in the checkout process.

How to Prep: To avoid lost sales, audit and upgrade your checkout well ahead of Black Friday. Add guest checkout to avoid mandatory account creation and make sure users are able to autofill their payment information. Shopify merchants who use Shop Pay, for instance, have a 1.43X higher conversion rate.

Offer Multiple Payment Options

From various credit card options to services like PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay, be sure to give frenzied Black Friday shoppers multiple ways to pay.

How to Prep: The last thing you want is your site crashing just when your customer hits the “Pay” button. Use tools like UptimeRobot to monitor your site performance and ensure all your plugins are up-to-date. Don’t forget to have your abandoned cart email and text templates ready just in case.

6. Create Your ‘Best Black Friday’ Budget

With the right financial strategy to execute your Black Friday plans, you can position your e-commerce store for your biggest year yet.

Increase Your Working Capital

Inventory, technology, advertising — it all requires cash flow. With SellersFi Working Capital, you can get up to $10M in as little as 48 hours. Our flexible terms let you grow your e-commerce business any way you want, with up to 24 months to repay.

Factor Your Invoices

Invoice Factoring and Invoice Flex solutions get you expedited payments on your invoices, which you can use to reinvest in your suppliers or any other aspect of your business. Instead of waiting on Amazon and others for payouts, you get your capital right away.

Accept Global Payments

With SellerFi’s Digital Wallet and built-in currency conversion, you get fast, frictionless payments while saving on currency conversion and exchange fees. Digital Wallet makes it easy to scale your business globally without payment hassles or delays.

Analyze and Optimize

Our all-in-one analytics program, Sellers Signals, helps you make sense of your data. You have insights you need to keep your Amazon business healthy, make data-driven decisions about your business and grow your Q4 profits.

Budgeting for Black Friday can require some tough decision making.

Whether you choose to work with our team at SellersFi or another partner, make sure you have a trusted financial ally who will empower you to pursue the growth you deserve, on your terms.

Launch Your Black Friday E-commerce Strategy with SellersFi

Black Friday can be an incredible opportunity to grow and scale. It takes thorough research, smart strategizing and a strong financial plan to make it happen.

With SellersFi as your funding partner, you get access to flexible funding to free up your focus and make the most of the biggest shopping event of the year.

Get started with one of our many products today, or get in touch with our team for any questions you might have.

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