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How to prepare a small business for Black Friday

How to prepare a small business for Black Friday

With Halloween out of the way, the majority of retail and e-commerce small businesses are preparing for the rush of shoppers expected on Black Friday. This can be a hectic time for many companies as they struggle to keep popular items in stock during this time of the year when traffic is high. If past sales are any indication, sales numbers should continue their upward trajectory and fuel strong profits for the holiday.

In 2015, in-store spending by customers reached $67.5 billion, up from $50.9 billion the year before, with customers paying an average of $403.35 per person, according to Statistic Brain. Further, many Americans bundle up and camp out in front of brick-and-mortar stores, with 23 percent of the 133,700,000 average number of Black Friday shoppers arriving at midnight or before to get the best deals possible.

However, the growth of e-commerce sites has also driven up sales, with just as many shoppers gearing up to hit the web-based shops. Online spending hit $2.9 billion, nearly double the $1.5 billion mark in 2014, Statistic Brain reported. The average amount that people spent on the internet was $159.55.

While there’s no doubt that shoppers are out in force on Black Friday, it’s still imperative that small business owners take the necessary steps to attract these potential customers and ensure they have incentive to make purchases. Consider these tips to take advantage of on this profitable shopping holiday:

Share sales and promotions
Simply setting prices lower or having special offers without telling anyone about it won’t suffice to move items off the shelf. Sending out email blasts and sharing these promotions on social media spreads the word to potential shoppers looking for the best deals on a deal-filled date.

An important part of the email blast is to include the deal or promotion right in the subject line to further entice potential customer to open the message. Having a picture and link to the products’ landing page in the body of the text gets shoppers primed and ready to buy.

Boost online engagement
While many stores are preparing for the big rush of foot traffic coming through their stores, e-commerce shops must also do what they can to increase customer engagement with their websites. If a company doesn’t have mobile capabilities, now is a good time to begin the process.

Reach out to customers early with countdowns and details that highlight the deals and promotions for Black Friday. Updating the website to align with the holiday and specials is also a great way to boost online engagement. E-commerce sites can add a new skin or special pictures on the site to make it more festive.

Make sure the staff is ready
If sharing sales and promotions and boosting online engagement are all successful, it should lead to a rush of customers. Ideally, it can attract more shoppers than the shop normally has on a typical business day.

Having a plan in place to deal with this massive influx of people should be a top priority. This may involve obtaining some retractable belt barriers to control longer lines and adding more workers for the day. Owners should communicate this plan with staff and make sure everyone is on the same page.

In addition, emotions can run high when people are trying to find the best deals, and it’s important that employees are trained on the proper way to handle a disgruntled customer. Be sure the staff knows where extra stock is located in the warehouse, or, alternatively what to offer in case something runs out.

Stock up on inventory
Having enough goods to sell is paramount. With a rush of shoppers coming through the doors and logging into sites, not having enough inventory to sell can create a lot of bad will and drive down customer satisfaction. If someone shows up at the store to take advantage of a great deal and there’s nothing left to buy, it could potentially lead to long-term issues with customer loyalty. This is especially true if there are particularly good sales or promotions involved.

Unfortunately, not all small businesses have enough working capital to purchase a sufficient amount of inventory. While offering a rain​ check or substituting another item for the out-of-stock product can help make up the difference, the fact is that many customers who don’t get what they were hoping for will end up going to a competitor to make a purchase.

Thankfully, small business owners can take advantage of a merchant cash advance from an alternative lender to ensure all their shelves stay stocked. Unlike the intense application process necessary to obtain a bank loan, alternative lenders provide capital quick, sometimes in as little at 24 hours. Further, when using a merchant cash advance, small businesses pay back a percentage of their sales, which makes the repayment process easy and affordable.

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