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Black Friday & Cyber Monday: How to cope as a small business

Alongside pumpkin spiced latte and the commercialising of Halloween, the biggest Autumn trend to hit us from the US in recent years has to be Black Friday and its online sister, Cyber Monday.


What are Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Black Friday made its way over here in 2014 and has become increasingly popular with the larger retailers including supermarkets and department stores, as well as with online retailers. This year Black Friday falls on 29th November 2019.

Cyber Monday is an online sales event which falls the Monday after Black Friday. This year it therefore takes place on 2nd December 2019.

In recent years the distinction between these two events has become increasingly blurred. In addition many retailers start their Black Friday & Cyber Monday sales earlier in November and run them later into December, rather than relying on increased sales on just those two days.


What is the point of Black Friday & Cyber Monday?

In the UK, these sales are used to capitalise on the Christmas period, encouraging people to grab ‘bargains’ as part of their Christmas shopping. For consumers, there are real bargains to be had if you shop judiciously, but of course retailers are hoping to encourage people to spend more than they ordinarily would.

Black Friday has changed the way that consumers shop. It’s now common for people to buy most of their Christmas presents during this sale period, rather than later in December. Also, due to the bad publicity generated by some Black Friday events – including customers fighting in shops – the majority of Black Friday shoppers do so online, which makes the distinction between this and Cyber Monday even less clear.


How can small businesses capitalise on Black Friday & Cyber Monday?

As a small business, it can sometimes feel overwhelming to try and compete with the bigger retailers who are offering huge discounts on their products during this period. However there are plenty of ways that you can get involved without putting your profit margins in jeopardy.

  1. Only discount a select number of products, rather than offering store-wide blanket discounts.
  2. Release deals one at a time over a period of a week to keep customers coming back to find out what the latest deal is.
  3. Include your old stock at a very good discount, to make space for your new products.
  4. Also include your best selling products, so that people feel they are getting a real bargain, and to encourage people who have been dithering about making a purchase to finally take the plunge.
  5. Offer a free gift with every purchase instead of a discount. This means you are getting products in front of the customer that they wouldn’t necessarily have chosen for themselves, increasing the chance that they may go on to purchase these later.
  6. Offer free delivery – recent research shows that 9 out of 10 customers look for free delivery as their priority when shopping online.


How can small businesses cope with these increased sales?

Whether you’re an online retailer or a physical shop, increased sales means increased traffic, which means increased workload! Ensure that you have all the staff that you need to cope with the rush (including some hard looking ones to break up any fights over your high value products!)

Last year, over 50% of Black Friday online sales were made using a mobile device. Make sure your online shop works as well on a mobile as it does on a desktop device. If you’re worried about your online shop’s capacity for traffic, then spreading your sale over a longer period of time will be better than risking your site crashing on the day itself. You should also check that your online checkout system is working effectively and isn’t going to take so long that the customers get frustrated and abandon their purchase.

Also crucial during this period is to keep on top of your stock inventory so that you don’t sell products that you physically don’t have! You should also aim to offer excellent customer service during this period, so that any customers who do have issues are dealt with swiftly and professionally.


As a small business Black Friday can be a great opportunity for you. Just remember the tips above and you’ll be on your way to turning this into a great annual sales opportunity. And if you’re thinking of taking advantage of some Black Friday deals yourself, remember to think whether you REALLY need to make a purchase. A bargain is not a bargain if you didn’t need it in the first place! (Unless your partner is an accountant, in which case spend with complete abandon as it’s the only time of year you can get away with it….)