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Black Friday Preparation – Where to start?

Britons spent a record £5.8 billion over the four days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2016 – an increase of 15 percent on the year before, according to the Centre for Retail Research (CRR). Online retailers took approximately £2.8 billion of this – up 20 per cent from £2.3 billion in 2015, and even the press were reporting of customers dissing the high streets across the nation, in favour of shopping online.

A little history

Black Friday started in America, it’s the day following Thanksgiving, and it sees retailers making the most of customers being off work for the day, and the proximity to Christmas. It was 2010 when the UK saw fit to adopt Black Friday, without Thanksgiving, and love it or hate it, the results soon proved irresistible: By 2013 it seemed to have acquired the momentum to give it almost the legendary status it has in the US. And when you consider that Americans are around 6 times more likely to buy on Black Friday than any other Friday, you get the gist of its importance. To put this into context, a Hitwise survey of 3m Brits found that last Black Friday, retail websites saw more than 28m online visits every hour, with daily visit share up by 75% from midnight to 3am on the morning of Black Friday.

For 2017, Black Friday falls on 24th November, and is expected to exceed even last year’s record. So, what can you do to get fully prepped for one of the largest opportunities this year?

Don’t procrastinate

It’s never too early to start preparing for Black Friday. The reason for this is twofold:

Firstly keen bargain-hunters start scoping out Black Friday deals early, and if your site doesn’t mention what’s about to go down, there’ll be no mental note made to return to your store. Customers start seeking out their Black Friday deals around early November.

Secondly, deciding on campaigns, printing assets like banners, updating products, and training employees on what’s what for the day, all take a significant amount of time.

Know your Black Friday facts

A studious approach always pays off when you’re planning your campaigns. So, here’s some Black Friday trivia (that’s actually anything but):

  • Online traffic tends to peak early, around 9am
  • Lunch time sees a significant peak with 1pm being the second most popular hour
  • 60% of users check out within ten minutes of adding items to the basket
  • while 90% of users check out within an hour

Use data such as this to plan for marketing campaigns on your social throughout the day. Have your marketers prepped and ready to go for any responsive marketing opportunities that come along too, e.g. weather-based, or news-related, and also to respond well to customer queries / comments on social on the day.

Prepare for Busyness

One of the most frustrating parts of shopping on Black Friday, is coming across a site that’s running ridiculously slow when loading. Time is of the essence, and customers begin to feel that they’re missing out on bargains – this happens, and they’ll quickly go elsewhere.

Make sure you test your server load capacity regularly in the lead up to the big day, making sure your site is up to the spike.


Marketing only represents half of the equation. At least as important is tracking its success. Without proper tracking and analysis, you’ll always just be guessing the true success of your campaigns. Magento’s announcement on Magento Business Intelligence earlier this year certainly offers more than most cloud-based tools when it comes to easily analysing success, in order to help make informed, strategic decisions for growth tactics. Tracking and tweaking regularly can significantly improve results across KPIs.

If you’re not already, get well-versed in using your analytics tool of choice, before Black Friday. That way you can get live data to work from as the sales come pouring in, and then, of course, be best placed to analyse in the weeks after and make preparations for Sales campaigns in the future.