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Top 10 tips for a Virtual Black Friday

This year, Black Friday will fall on 27th November 2020. A once fairly predictable date in our retail calendars, this year’s is turning out to be trickier to foretell. 

The key shopping day that originated in the US back in the 1980s, traditionally falls the day after Thanksgiving. Historically, it’s remembered as the day that customers literally fight over the last of the best deals in-store, but 2020 is going to be very, very different!

One thing the eCommerce sector is pretty sure of, is we’re going to see an influx of customers heading online to snap up the offers, as COVID-19 precautions prevent many from wishing to visit physical stores; opting instead for the convenience and security of shopping online. 

So what can eCommerce Managers do to prepare for higher site traffic this year in order to increase conversions, gain new customers and bump up those average order values? 


It’s been a tough year for many retailers that operate a large number of physical stores, but online sales have typically been booming across many sectors. 

However, you’re still going to want to be selective about the products you promote. It’s not always feasible for smaller brands to offer huge discounts across their entire product range. Giants such as Amazon can only do this because they buy in such large quantities, meaning they have more generous profit margins and can afford to soak up the costs. It may be that you’re willing to make a small loss during Black Friday in order to acquire new customers that will spend more money with you in the long-run. But you should be pinpointing the products to run offers on; think about old stock that can be cleared out, higher-margin items and the best-sellers you can cross-sell with. It’s also worth keeping in mind that customers typically use Black Friday to purchase Christmas gifts – so consider content and merchandising that supports this behaviour. 


Following on from the above tip, you should consider utilising your homepage in order to promote discounted products. Some brands even opt to create this experience even more exciting for customers by installing a live timer for how long they have left to snap up the best deals. 

You can however get more creative with this, like Currys PC World did last year. They opted for a more humorous approach to the Black Friday madness with their homepage offering a ‘Black Friday Survival Guide’. The guide provided some handy tips for customers looking to survive the shopping experience in their physical stores and also allowed them to easily navigate deals online. 


With more consumers than ever before heading online this year to shop the deals, you’re going to have a lot of competition on your hands if your site’s page speed isn’t up to scratch. Google found that users typically abandon sites if they take longer than 5 seconds to load, this will be even less on Black Friday when there is a time limit to shop the best deals. 

Forward thinking eCommerce businesses are now adopting Progressive Web Apps (PWA) in order to vastly improve their site speed (amongst numerous other benefits). 

Award-winning agency JH, are currently running a PWA Accelerator Programme for SMBs who are looking to migrate to PWA. The programme will enable your business to fast-track a PWA development project at a reduced investment. 

However, if you wanted to make some quick-fix page speed improvements ahead of Black Friday, you should be looking at reducing the size of your pages by avoiding unnecessary JavaScript, CSS and large imagery. On imagery you do embed, you should be specifying height and width for images so that the browser can create placeholders for the images, to load the page and the images simultaneously.

Most eCommerce platforms also offer minor tweaks that can lead to significant reductions in load times. Magento supports file compression, a content delivery network, and other speed enhancements. Your Magento agency or developer can make these platform optimisations for you.


To help customers speed up the decision making process on Black Friday, provide clear and easy to find information on product pages. 

Good product pages should already be doing this, but it’s worth an external audit by an agency prior to Black Friday in order to scope out any potential areas for improvement. A best-practise product page should include engaging imagery, key information and features, user ratings and if applicable, sizing guides or ‘how to’ information. Key messaging around delivery and returns should also be shown around the site to make sure the proposition is clear to customers – this is especially important as a trust building exercise if you’re looking to acquire new customers this Black Friday. 


If you’re planning last minute, one easy strategy to consider would be to offer an online exclusive discount code that offers reductions across your entire site. All you have to do is set up the discount code ahead of your Black Friday promotion, adjusting the date and time to when it’ll go live. This strategy is favoured by ASOS, and although you may not be able to offer a huge percentage like them, adapting this to your own pricing strategy is a sure way to uplist conversion and AOV on the day.


You’re potentially already taking advantage of this approach on your site by highlighting bestsellers on your homepage, or even their own dedicated page. If you’re not however, it’s a great strategy to consider this Black Friday. Why not create a buzz around these products by offering a limited-time discount? Best-sellers are what entice new customers, they form the basis around which their shopping basket is then built. A customer who has held off purchasing from your site may finally be tempted by the discount offered on your best-sellers. 


Black Friday presents the perfect opportunity for retailers to upsell and cross-sell products, further increasing the average order value per customer. 

This strategy works particularly well for high-value items in sectors such as Home & Living. Especially so for eCommerce sites, as you can select your up-sell products to be promoted alongside your staple, high-value pieces. 

For example, if you’re offering some Black Friday deals on furniture, you could think about promoting cushions, throws or other accessories displayed in the product imagery on the same product page. 

What’s more, if the customer has been enticed by a particularly good deal on a usually pricey furniture item, they will be further encouraged to purchase the add-ons you suggest after their cost-saving. 

Here’s an example of this in action: 


You don’t want to be losing customers at the last hurdle, particularly with higher site traffic on Black Friday – every sale counts. So now is the time to revisit your checkout journey and ensure this is smooth and seamless. 

Complicated purchasing journeys are one of the biggest causes of cart abandonment, so consider booking in an audit on your checkout process with a reputable agency who will be able to suggest areas of improvement and potential integrations that could boost conversions, such as flexible payments and more ways to pay.


This clever marketing strategy is a great way of growing your database with new customers whilst promoting loyalty amongst your existing customers. Offering a Black Friday discount to those who sign up to your newsletter is a relatively low-cost tactic that is sure to pay off in the long-run. 

The best way to promote this is to enable a pop-up on your homepage so new customers see this immediately at first glance. Your existing customers should be receiving an exclusive newsletter in their inbox. 


This year, Black Friday is likely going to be driven by mobile. In terms of revenue, the UK saw an overall increase in spend from 2018 to 2019 of over £12 million in the week of Black Friday, with mobile sales responsible for 50% of all transactions. Purchases made from desktop and tablet devices made up the rest.

With COVID-19 we are already seeing more users than ever breaking previous consumer trends against spending high sums on mobile, and are overall spending more time and consuming more on their mobile phones. With customers more engrossed in their phones than ever, it’s not difficult to predict that we’ll once again see a rise in mobile sales this year. 

Most eCommerce sites are now mobile-responsive, but those retailers who have invested in Progressive Web App are going to be two steps ahead of their competition. PWAs offer the customer faster page speed times on mobile, as well as the opportunity to download an app directly from your homepage. In addition, they’ll be receiving an in-app experience even if they continue their journey in their browser. 

If you haven’t launched on PWA yet though, there are still many ways you can ensure your site is optimised for mobile by ensuring you’re using mobile-responsive imagery and navigation. Your agency (or in-house development team) should be advising on this regularly, but it’s a good idea to check in with them on mobile support ahead of the big day! 

Enquire about a site audit with JH ahead of Black Friday to better understand what site improvements you should be focusing on as priority: