South African consumers and businesses are buying into American Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales more each year.
According to Black Friday Global, 87% of South Africans surveyed said they knew what Black Friday was, but couldn’t remember the exact date. Likewise, 54% said they participated in the shopping event last year, and 66% will participate in the shopping event in 2019.
As we expect this growth trend to continue, small and medium-sized businesses must learn how to take advantage of this opportunity to generate incremental holiday revenue.
We’ll get into how to do that shortly. But first, let’s review the history of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping events.
What is Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
Black Friday is the name given to the shopping day that occurs after American Thanksgiving, which always happens on the third Thursday in November. It has traditionally been the biggest shopping day of the year for many US businesses, as it’s a federal holiday (as part of a four-day weekend), and many people begin their holiday shopping on that date. This year, it will take place on Friday, November 29.
Today, the word “black” refers to retailers going from “in the red” to “in the black” as they begin to turn a profit. While Black Friday represents the start of the US holiday shopping season, CNET reports that in 2018, Cyber Monday generated $7.9 billion US in sales—beating the record-breaking 2018 Black Friday, which reached $6.2 billion US.
This trend is due, in part, to the rapid growth of ecommerce in recent years. Many businesses, therefore, save their biggest online sales offers for Cyber Monday. This year, it will occur on December 2, the first Monday after American Thanksgiving.
South African shoppers already plan to spend R1735 (US$117) per person—both online and in brick-and-mortar stores this Black Friday alone. Additionally, the average South African Black Friday shopper tends to buy an average of 4.5 products.
Now that you understand the advantage of promoting your business on these dates, it’s time to develop a strategy to maximize your sales potential.
Tips to maximize sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
According to Black Friday Global, peak South African shopping activity on November 29 is likely to happen between 8am and 11am. You’ll need to build your promotional strategy to maximise these hot time zones — perhaps offering doorbusters (special limited-time deals) in-store and online that encourage people to buy earlier and spend more than they would normally.
A doorbuster could be a gift with purchase over a certain amount or a special discount that’s only available for those that buy certain items.
Google Trends data for South Africa shows significant queries related to “Black Friday sales” occurred on Thursday and Friday of the sales event in prior years. We also see that for 2019, Black Friday related queries in South Africa began as early as late October. This suggests shoppers are looking to snap up those Black Friday deals early, well before the actual event. Many retailers are also bringing their Black Friday deals earlier to maximise sales and capture those early birds searching for bargains.
Keep this in mind while deciding when to launch and shut down your sales events in South Africa.
You’ll need to be strategic about which sales categories to promote to shoppers on November 29 and December 2, as well. Black Friday Global’s statistics on 2018 shopping data reveals the most popular categories of products among Black Friday shoppers in South Africa include:
Additionally, when shopping online during Black Friday in 2018, “more than half (49.2 percent) of South African customers used smartphones, 47.3 percent preferred desktops, and the remaining 3.5 percent chose tablets.” You’ll need to factor this into your online marketing strategy, which we’ll get into shortly.
What should small and medium-sized businesses promote?
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the one time of the year that small and medium-sized businesses should consider going deep with discounts.
In North America, consumers have come to expect them. The chart from Numerator below shows that discounts were even bigger in 2018 for all product categories. The average deal was a discount of 49.6% off versus 45.5% in 2017.
Since many South African consumers buy online across borders to access products, keep in mind that you’ll be competing with businesses for sales in the US and elsewhere on Black Friday.
However, you’ll need to determine how deep you can afford to go while also turning a profit. One way to do so is by offering different discounts based on how much a customer spends:
You may also want to save the highest discounts for only your most loyal customers.
1. Give VIPs the upper hand
Consider offering your VIP customers both early access to deals, and exclusive deals that are better than what the general public will see. Email is a great way to deliver these VIP deals, which we’ll get into soon.
2. Offer price matching to mobile shoppers in-store
Savvy South African shoppers on Black Friday seek out deals both online and in-store. This behavior is known as multi-channel shopping. Additionally, the majority of online Black Friday shopping in 2018 was conducted on a mobile device, according to Black Friday Global.
If you don’t have a mobile app or website to tailor deals to those shoppers, keep in mind that 80% of shoppers are also using their mobile phones while in a physical store. The main reason is to compare prices and look at product reviews.
As a result, many retailers offer price matching in-store on Black Friday. If you can afford to do it, this will help you build customer loyalty into the New Year. Just ask them to show you the price at your competitor’s site on their phones.
3. Provide incentives for customers to return in January and February
Another way to drive loyalty and repeat purchases in the New Year is by offering gift cards or coupons which they can redeem in January and February. This strategy can also help you drive up the average amount that someone spends with your business.
For example, you could offer a R200 gift card or coupon code to customers who spend over, say, R1000.
Once you’ve created your special Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers, be sure to promote them in advance to maximize profits.
Supporting marketing and sales tactics
Given that there are only a few weeks to go before two of the biggest shopping days of the year, here are some quick ways you can get the word out about your sales events.
1. Pre-promote deals early in-store and on your website
As mentioned earlier, not all South Africans are as familiar with the actual dates of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. That’s why it helps to pre-promote your sales in advance. Many businesses start their sales a few days in advance of the main event, as well.
You can start by adding a graphic to your website homepage or get more technical like Platypus did with a countdown clock. The example below is for a Click Frenzy promotion, (a pre-holiday Australian online shopping event that’s similar to Cyber Monday that occurred on November 12th). Your strategy depends on your budget and your technical expertise.
Additionally, consider putting up signs in your shop or printing flyers to give to customers in the days or weeks leading up to the sale.
2. Tease your offers on social media channels
If you’ve generated a following on your social media channels, build up some excitement with teasers for your upcoming sales. For example, Adore Beauty promoted a GIF of cats typing frantically on a laptop to tease their Click Frenzy sale on Instagram:
Depending on how much time you have, you could promote a different product or offer that you’ll be featuring each day until the main event.
3. Segment and send your offers using your email database
If you’ve built up a customer email marketing list in a tool like MailChimp, now would be an excellent time to segment your customers based on the promotions you plan to offer. For example, you could create one for VIPs, and one for customers with kids (if you plan to have a discount on select toys), and lists for men’s or women’s clothing sales.
You could also create a promotion for a list of customers who haven’t bought from you recently but that you’d like to bring back to your store. It’s commonly known as a win-back email. As I’ve mentioned earlier, you could offer them a gift or gift card with purchase, and let them know about other deals going on for Black Friday, like the example below.
Think about the timing of when you’ll send out your emails, as well. You might want to send out a teaser email a few days in advance. Then, send one out the morning of Black Friday, when the sale begins. If you have the resources, you can also send one out a few hours before the sale ends to capture last-minute transactions.
4. Promote coupon codes and deals on discount sites
Another place to promote your deals is on South African deal finder websites, and other finder websites – particularly for airline travel discounts.
Most savvy shoppers are aware of and visit these sites to look for discounts from their favourite brands, both online and in-store.
Many of these sites work like affiliates, meaning they take a percentage of the sale that was generated after a customer used the coupon code, or clicked on the “get deal” link and completed a purchase.
5. Target ads to multi-channel shoppers
Finally, if you have the budget and resources to create and deploy a last-minute advertising or direct mail campaign, consider promoting your sales a week or so leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Online Advertising articles in the South Africa Small Business Resource Center provides tips on how to create and promote a campaign online. Your best bet is to start with a Google paid search or display network campaign, or a Facebook campaign, since it might be too late to create and run an offline print or outdoor campaign. It’s important to note that you will pay among the highest PPC’s (pay per click values) for the entire year, as you compete with other companies also wanting a slice of the Black Friday action.
For Black Friday advertising on Social Media, you can quickly put something together with images and text that can be targeted to your ideal customers per the example below:
For more information about promoting your business’ Black Friday offer, see our Guide on how to use social media to generate Black Friday Sales which includes one very smart trick.
There may, however, still be time to run offline newspaper ads and a possible direct mail campaign. For tips on how to create and deploy more campaigns, see out small business advertising posts, which include definitions and costs for various traditional media channels.
It’s not too late to offer Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals
If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to consider how you can still capitalize on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Factor in what you can afford regarding special discounts for all customers and deeper discounts for VIPs. Make sure to match prices in-store for mobile shoppers, and offer deals to bring them back in the New Year, too.
Start with the quickest and most cost-effective ways to pre-promote your offers. If you already have an email marketing system in place, it’s a good place to begin. Segment your lists based on VIPs, different product categories, and even a win-back campaign.
Likewise, be sure to promote your sales events in advance in-store, on your website, and social media. If you have some money for last-minute advertising set aside, consider online, newspaper, and direct mail channels.
But you don’t have to do it all at once. Start with a few promotional tactics and channels to test this year, then build on your success and plan further ahead in 2020.
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