Brands are already advertising Black Friday deals, proof if any was needed that a sales spree which used to run over four days from November 29 is becoming longer and more competitive. Historically it was an in-store retail event driven by major US supermarkets the day after Thanksgiving, but that evolved around 2010 when Cyber Monday emerged as an eCommerce equivalent.
The two blurred into each other because it made sense for sites to leave deals on over the weekend, rather than have to change prices and promotions. It’s become a tricky period for retailers to navigate. They have to decide when to bite the bullet and launch their offers. Go too early and you risk of watering down the revenues over a longer sale; go late and you could get lost in the noise. Only a few retailers have got it right, moving towards a ‘lightning deal’ approach for a limited number of customers.
Digital marketing goes into overdrive as online sellers offer pre-Black Friday ‘deals of the day’ or even ‘deals of the hour’ promotions. In such a rapacious feeding frenzy, the trick is to cut margins but still turn a profit, or sell loss market items confident that a profit can be turned by selling accessories. Loss leaders have become part and parcel of Black-Friday promotions, particularly for own-brand retailers who use the season as a new-customer acquisition technique.
For most brands it’s a balancing act . You need to have an effective Black Friday offering that works with big market places like Amazon and Carrefour without devaluing your product portfolio. A content strategy like the ‘hero, hub and hygiene’ framework becomes essential. Want to gain more insights into how to balance your Black Friday offering? Our guide offers insights into the key trends that will be vital for your Black Friday strategy.
Be sure and feature user-generated content and ratings to help maximise conversions; promote the RRP on your product-pages to remind people what a great deal they are getting; push any warranties to give buyers peace of mind; and when you know what you are going to sell, consider emailing customers in advance, particularly if you are looking to upsell them to a new generation of product.
Build up a collection of content that you can use to attract target buyers on search engines – ‘how to’ articles, tips and advice blogs, workshop videos. This type of ‘hygiene’ or help content is all about wrapping your products in a warm blanket of goodwill, creating the perception that you are a reliable and trusted brand.
More than price
For internet shopping in general, an ‘always-on sale’ culture is emerging because price comparison websites and targeted ads make it difficult to compete on anything but price. The problem is that it’s hard to build a sustainable retail business with a strategy based around discounts and deals.
In truth, Black Friday is not the best time to start but it is indicative of a year-round focus on deals that retailers with different kinds of customer messages have to address. This is why you need content that gets your value proposition heard above the noise. Ads promoting competing items at a cheaper price will pop up on shopping sites just before customers buy your product, so you better have something else ready if you want to take them through to checkout and close the deal. Product descriptions and the content you wrap around your brand must become differentiators.
At ChannelSight we understand large online platforms, what kind of products are performing in what categories, the brands that new entrants need to benchmark themselves against, and the kind of sales volumes needed to secure a future on highly competitive platforms.
We also provide a view across the entire ecosystem. If you are using Amazon as an intermediary, principally for the sales conversion, you need to understand the behaviour of your prospects on the way there, whether it’s via a link from your social media content, click-through traffic from paid media, or from a carefully curated product page on your own website. ChannelSight data doesn’t stop there. In the actual checkout process, we can analyse competitive advertising and benchmark your pricing and content propositions. We can even identify other products your customer is putting in their shopping basket. At the very least it will enhance the demographic profiling of your customer, and might point you towards other products you could sell. If you are selling consumer electronic devices, for example, and customers keep buying a plug adaptor, maybe it’s time to add your own as an accessory.
Get smart or get lost
Another challenge with eCommerce over traditional bricks and mortar retail is the speed of change. Big online marketplaces can flick a switch and change their algorithms, fundamentally altering the way you interact with them. You can’t fight this, nor can you compete with the scale of data they generate around online shopping journeys. In the case of Amazon, insights are used to play brands off against each other and increasingly push its own low-cost label, Amazon Basics, which spans fast-moving consumables, cosmetics and electronics.
They may be powerful, but what third-party platforms can never do is take away your fundamental proposition, your brand and differentiators. The challenge is monitoring and measuring their effectiveness to ensure you stand out from the crowd. Basically, if you want survive and thrive in the online world, you need to counter the market intelligence of the big marketplaces with your own. ChannelSight can help. Talk to us about how we can help you refine your strategies beyond Black Friday.
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Head of Strategic Alliances, Partnerships & Co-Founder at ChannelSight – Making The World Instantly Shoppable.