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Committing to Black Friday can help your business win, year-round

South African retailers' adoption of Black Friday largely splits them into two camps. On one hand, companies embrace it because it's a chance to shift stock and cultivate a quick turnover spike that can help bump up annual turnover. Others view it as a frivolous and fraught foray into the unknown which can devalue a brand or product because it's simply about mass discounts at all costs.
Jake Rubinstein, cofounder of Correlate Digital
Jake Rubinstein, cofounder of Correlate Digital

Black Friday is an extremely busy shopping period and isn’t going anywhere, so whether it is or isn’t something that fits in with the way you’d like to do business, it should still be viewed as an opportunity that can serve a purpose beyond a single hyped-up month.

Focus on the people


For business, it’s a question of knowing what you should and shouldn’t do. For SMME retailers, there’s a question of how to maintain customer service integrity, manage stock supply chains and fulfil orders and expectations in a world where you’re battling against the e-commerce giants.

Regardless of your stance, doing Black Friday ‘right’ is a massive opportunity to acquire new customers, but to take advantage, you must cast your eye beyond the flurry and strategise around how to engage and convert any database you’ve built, by focusing on building authentic relationships with customers.

Simplify the chaos


There’s also a measure of simplicity that needs to be introduced during the maelstrom. Plenty of retailers opt for offers that complicate internal delivery or confuse or trivialise the customer; this is not a good start to the relationship. Making sure your entire offer, checkout and fulfilment processes are as simple, obvious and easy to understand must be imperative.

Create the best experience for the customer possible. Don’t ‘Grey-Friday’. Commit. Do not hold back. Take a few risks and make a statement. It’s time to have a punt and learn.

The exercise can bear fruit for years to come, so make it competitive and simple for the customer to do business with you. This might sound obvious to say, but it is worth mentioning as critical to the success or failure of your own Black Friday and also to ensuring sustainability for your business beyond it.

Play smart with your data


The database you’ll build will have exponential benefits that might be hard to see in the heat of the moment – but once things settle, a clever strategy will pay dividends. Enabling every future campaign to build from the last at scale. Need to launch a new product, replenish a customer basket, push for up- or cross-sell, or nudge customers higher up the value chain? Then don’t just focus on database growth, focus on database enrichment.

You may have established a relationship with a customer based on a discount strategy, but careful planning will enable you build that relationship into something more sustainable. Most of the customers you acquire won’t have the expectation that the discounting will continue – but to avoid churn, you must work to understand their needs. For that, you need to know who you’re talking to, what they expect and how to engage and sell to them for the eleven months after; and if they don’t engage, be sure to take them out of the mix.

Look beyond Black Friday


Turning a Black Friday interaction into one that brings you a customer for the other 364 days of the year is easy – with planning. It’s about building relationships with customers and enriching your ability to market to them at times that aren’t based on discount madness. Remember: be simple, clear and ensure your value proposition and fulfilment chain are tightened up. It’s not about 100% off your margin, it’s about turning a low-margin, high value period into a lifetime of financial gains. So do it right.

About the author

Jake Rubinstein, cofounder of Correlate Digital

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