How to Make Black Friday Work for Your Store


By Erik Sherman

Erik Sherman is a writer primarily covering business and technology, but also experienced in food, entertainment, the outdoors. Erik blogs via

As you know, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is traditionally the day that retailers move into profit, or into the black. It’s the biggest shopping day of the year, and one that your
small business can take advantage of,

Here are three steps to use to get a great start to the holiday retail season.

1. Be savvy about sales items

Shoppers have adjusted their behavior to a new economic
reality, shying away from free-wheeling credit card use. Kit Yarrow, a consumer research psychologist and chair of the Psychology Department at
Golden Gate University, says the new
watchword for consumers is frugality.

That means stores with aggressive pricing will do well. But rather than offer storewide promotions, smart merchants will carefully decide on which items to put on sale.

Create door
, items that are priced so well they’ll bring people in en masse. Prepare your staff with potential
up-sells and cross-sells that can build margin and make up for these loss
leaders. Display them around the door busters. 

If possible, choose items that are not being offered by competitors. Make them available in limited quantities. That way, you’ll capture the interest of “treasure hunters” and still limit the number of
margin-losing specials you sell. 

Put together gift packages that bundle several items together. Offer
them at a lower price than each would be individually. To make them even
more appealing, save busy shoppers time by having them already gift

2. Outfox super early sales

The big retailers have been competing with each other to see
who will open earliest. It’s gotten so competitive that some stores unlock
their doors on Thanksgiving
 to catch people who can’t wait until after the holiday for a

Rather than meet them head-to-head, why not outfox
the big stores, and smaller competitors, as well? Contact your best customers
and let them reserve items on special sale. Then, set appointments for them to pick them up at their convenience over the weekend.

When you open, make it special for shoppers by offering pastries and coffee. Hand out discount
coupons to early birds
. This tactic has proved useful to major department stores like Lord &
Taylor, Sports Authority, and J. C. Penney.

Free gift wrapping is another incentive to bring in shoppers. How about keeping customers’ purchases at your store? That way, they can be sure that family members won’t  find out in advance what they’re getting.

The point is, you need to provide the extra services that your customers would
appreciate. Then you need to let them know, through both social and mass media, that they’re available, and that you have their best interests at heart.

3. Get the word out

Even the smartest promotions and best pricing won’t bring
people in, if they don’t know about them in advance. In addition to your normal advertising
channels, leverage email lists and
social media to reach people directly.

Be sure you have a clear marketing message. Start
the communications  process early
, so that people are open to it. 

Finally, make sure you can be found on the Internet,
not only by name, but by location and product type, because consumers are
increasingly going online to research products and sellers. Also, if possible, have your website enabled for smartphone browsers.  Google is projecting that 15
percent of Black Friday searches
 will likely be done on a mobile

With the right strategy, you can compete and win business on
Black Friday. That way, your holiday shopping season, as well as your customer’s, will be a profitable one..

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