Each year millions of people spend BILLIONS of dollars during the Black Friday weekend, in both brick-and-mortar and online stores.

This may come as no surprise to our American readers, but to people outside of the US, Black Friday might not be as well-known. With the increase of sales in the online market, more countries are being exposed to Black Friday deals, as Amazon and other online retailers are expanding outside of the US.

For Americans and those outside the U.S., Black Friday is something sellers should definitely pay attention to!

Why Should You Care?

For decades brick-and-mortar stores have dominated Black Friday, but in recent years, online shopping has made a significant contribution to the Black Friday sales. In 2013, the number of overall shoppers decreased since 2012, however, the number of online shoppers has actually increased. Meaning, more and more people are choosing online deals, OVER fighting the crowds in person!

Not surprisingly, Amazon.com had the highest amount of Black Friday online traffic, followed by BestBuy.com, eBay.com, and Walmart.com. Consumers are forgoing the ridiculous lines, stampeding shoppers, and missed opportunities, and opting to shop from the comfort of their own homes.

During Black Friday weekend in 2013 (Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday), Amazon was the most talked about retailer on social media. On Cyber Monday alone, from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM EST, shoppers on Amazon spent $150 million. On ONE day!

In 2013, Cyber Monday was the biggest day in sales for online merchants. U.S.-based, online merchants made a record-breaking $1.735 billion on Cyber Monday last year; that’s an impressive 18% increase from 2012.

In previous years, electronics were the hot ticket items, but with the expansion of eCommerce, shoppers are looking online for more than just the latest gadgets. They are looking for great deals on clothes, appliances, and toys, as well as popular electronic devices that they can’t find in stores nearby, especially if they do not live in the US.

Everyone wants to take advantage!

How To Get Ready

Keep in mind as you prep for Black Friday, that this is going to be only one weekend long, and is not a celebrated gift-giving holiday such as Christmas. This means that you don’t want to change your entire packaging or promote this for months…Christmas is a whole other animal! For Black Friday there are simple, small, and easy things that can be done to get you prepped for the sales.

In order to take advantage of the Black Friday weekend you need to have a plan of attack. You need to consider advertising, so make a plan and have a goal. Major retailers send their flyers and emails out up to two weeks in advance and you should too. Your ads should clearly state what your deals are, people know what they want and they want a great deal. Start planning your ad campaign weeks in advance to account for any issues that might come up unexpectedly.

Don’t include any unnecessary text or images in your ads, it will just distract from your main goal, which is to tell consumers about the amazing deals you have for them. The focus should always be on the deal items; you should also consider not advertising your other regular priced items until after the Black Friday weekend.

Make sure you update your Amazon listing to reflect your deals. Use buzz words like “Black Friday”, “Deals”, “Cyber Monday”, “Holidays”, “Gift’, and “Stocking Stuffer” to set your listing apart from sellers with similar products. Black Friday is a short sale and people are looking for specific items. If your product stands out, you are more likely to catch their attention.

Don’t forget to update your website, too, if you have one. You should be updating it for the Christmas shopping season anyway, so just add a few Black Friday sale elements. Consumers searching for an item during the Black Friday weekend are going to visit sites that have deals, not regularly priced items they can get anytime.

You should be creating your own mailing list (outside of using the ASM email tool if you are an ASM member) and you will want to utilize this list to possibly send out Black Friday coupons, or just to let your customers know you will be running a promotion. Don’t harass them, only send out enough emails to peak their interest. You want your customers to visit your site or listing, not delete your emails as soon as they come in, or worse, mark them as spam. Offer them unique, one time deals that you only give to your email list; make them feel special.

Similarly, you can mail out postcards that have a Black Friday coupon. Don’t forget to mention Christmas. Does your product make a great gift? Tell them that! Is your product an ideal stocking stuffer? Say so! Black Friday shoppers may be looking for deals, but they aren’t always shopping for themselves. Most deal hunters are shopping for Christmas gifts, so make sure you mention Christmas and holiday discounts in your advertisements.

Now that you have an advertising plan of attack, you need to prepare your inventory and stock up! Black Friday is an excellent opportunity to get rid of old or discontinued merchandise or to draw attention to new products. Make sure you have enough inventory to get you through the Black Friday weekend or you could find yourself facing a shortage before Christmas rolls around.

It will be very difficult to arrange for new shipments to be delivered in time for mid- December shopping because suppliers and shippers will be incredibly backed up. If you think your product will be a hot Black Friday item, you may want to order more inventory before the sales start, that way you will be in a good place for the Christmas shopping influx.

01 Advertise Early

If you want to make sales on Black Friday or Cyber Monday (or both), you need to advertise early enough to get shoppers excited about your deal, but not so far in advance that they forget about you. Set up some emails to inform and remind consumers on your email lists, do some Facebook ads, or send out postcards to your mailing list, telling them about the great deals they don’t want to miss.

02 Buy Now Incentives

On your product listing, put the original price and a dramatically reduced price to show shoppers what an amazing deal they are getting if they buy now. Shoppers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday are expecting up to 40% off or more, so don’t be stingy with the discounts or you could lose sales before they even click on your listing. This is a great way to attract new customers to your product and retain the loyal customers you already have. Only offer deals and incentives you are financially comfortable with. Just be aware that your customers during this weekend will expect BIG deals.

03 Offer a Coupon

If you don’t want to slash your prices, offer a coupon to your email/mailing list. The key here is to make it sound like a VIP coupon, as opposed to the regular coupons you send out the rest of the year. Black Friday and Cyber Monday coupons need to be special and they need to be big. Shoppers are looking for huge value and low prices.

04 BOGO

Amp up your holiday sales by offering extra items for free with the purchase of another. For example, you could offer a buy one, get one free option, buy two get three free, or a buy this item and get this item option.

Everyone likes getting free stuff, so instead of price slashing, you could offer them more items for free. NOTE: You don’t really want to offer both a BOGO and Coupon deal…it is not necessary to get the sale!

05 Affiliates

You might not have affiliates, but if you do, use them, particularly if you run your own web store. Keep them informed and up to date on your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Your affiliates are excellent resources, use them! If you don’t have any, but want some, start recruiting well before Thanksgiving. Give them lots of time to get familiar with your product and the deals you plan to give. Even though they are a great option for promoting, don’t feel like you need to go out and recruit affiliates, there are tons of other ways to take advantage of Black Friday.

06 Bloggers

Like affiliates, reaching out to the right bloggers can help increase your sales through online word of mouth. Bloggers are a great way to reach a new audience and fresh pool of potential buyers. Blogger reviews act as a long advertisement for your product. It doesn’t cost much either, and some bloggers will do the review for free products, so it could end up costing you very little.

07 Marketing

Marketing doesn’t have to be complicated or costly. Marketing your Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals can be as simple as sending a couple of emails to remind people about your offers. Make a few blog posts of your own detailing your upcoming sales. You should also send out press releases with links to your posts; advertise your advertisement. Press releases are also a great way to use those blogger posts. Write a catchy headline and include the link to the blog post in your press release.