Are you prepared for the Black Friday apocalypse?

We can see you, sipping from your fancy cocktail on a sunny beach, scrolling through your news feed and running into this article.

Did you burst into laughter and accidentally spilled some of that fancy cocktail all over your expensive swimshorts? If you did, you’re probably one of those retailers who’ll cry their eyes out at the end of November. Here’s why.


Preparing for Black Friday

Black Friday is that strange overdose of “shopping cocaine” everyone hunts down and sniffs on the last Thursday evening of November. As soon as the intoxication level reaches climax, hell unleashes. People turn into these uncontrollable, red-eyed zombies who smash, tear up and break down everything that stands between them and that lovely evening gown that is now available 70% off its full price.

When you plan for the biggest campaign of the year, first you need to know that ∼30% of the customers you had all year are going to cross your doorstep in one day. The question is: will you make it safe to the other side?


Ammunition supplies

The only way to survive the Black Friday zombie apocalypse is if you can give them what they want. Which means you need to make proper supplies.

First, find out what was this year’s most wanted products. Not just the best-sellers, but also the products that the customers most search for. Check your stocks and order enough products from your suppliers at least 1 month prior to the big event. Also, make sure that the suppliers are able to back you up, in case the orders exceed your expectations.


Communication plan

Building the communication plan means defining your customer segments and determining the ways you are going to approach, communicate and personalize the offers for each segment. This includes all visual work: banners, ads, social media elements, special landing pages.

We recommend that you test your campaign mechanism in advance – say, 1-2 months before Black Friday to make sure it runs the way it should. Set up a campaign with similar functionalities to get rid of old stock and to obtain a group of relevant customers for you to retarget for Black Friday.


Technical checkup

It is absolutely vital that you run a technical inspection before the big day. Make sure your platform is optimized for both desktop and mobile devices and is able to support a large number of simultaneous operations and transactions. Test your entire order flow, from checkout to integrations (online payments, courier services), transactional emails and stock updates. Don’t forget to also check your SSL certificate. You don’t want an “EXPIRED!” message or a security breach, with a hoard of zombies shaking your door ?

Furthermore, we suggest that you use that customer segmentation to communicate with your audience gradually. Text messages, newsletters, push notifications – whatever your method – send your message out there in waves in order to avoid bottlenecks and downtimes. If you also own a mobile app for your store, you could start your Black Friday campaign on this channel first. That way you’ll increase your customer database and create the feeling of exclusiveness. Zombies love exclusiveness.


Get your shit team together

What a more urgent, “all-hands-on-deck” situation, if not a shopaholic zombie apocalypse? On Black Friday, everyone in the company holds their ground, knows exactly what to do and is prepared to act promptly in case unforeseen shit happens.

You should know that the customer support team, the marketing & content teams, the technical division, and the logistics workers are under the biggest pressure during this time. Set up 2-3 working shifts and make sure to have backup personnel, if possible.

Speaking of backup, this definitely goes for your courier partner, too. Although the order volume can go up to 20x more than on a regular day, the delivery must not be affected by it. Send an early request to your courier company and ask them to increase the pick-up and delivery of the packages throughout these days. Ideally, the first orders that were made the night the campaign started should be out for delivery the next morning.


So go on, finish that fancy cocktail of yours, shake the sand out of your slippers, put on your suit & tie and go plan for that campaign. You might hate us know, but you’ll be thanking us later.

thestartups preparing for black friday over a cocktail

Authors: Vlad Diaconu, Andreea Mares