Black Friday 2016: Are You Ready For The Biggest Shopping Day Of The Year?

Written by Sarah on 24th October 2016

With less than a month to go to Black Friday, if you haven’t started preparing your store for the biggest sales day of the year, you’ve come to the right place.

This year’s Black Friday is expected to bring in £5 billion in sales in the UK alone, so I’m sure you’ll be wanting a slice of that pie.

However to ensure that things go smoothly you need to be prepared, which of course, is why you’re here. Here’s what you need to do:

Is Black Friday Worth It?

One of the things that many articles about Black Friday tend to ignore is actually considering whether Black Friday is worth it for your business.

Yes, Black Friday does instantly bring with it a captive audience who have already saved up money that just needs spending. However, that doesn’t mean that you’ll get it.

Particularly online, most Black Friday shoppers will naturally head for the big brands who can give the biggest discounts, Amazon being one of them. Can you compete with them?

I’m not trying to be the pessimist, but before following the crowd into the Black Friday frenzy, make sure it’s viable for you business.

This also includes making sure the deals you offer aren’t going to cut into your profit margins too drastically. You might feel that in order to compete you have to offer the lowest price, but don’t forget about your profit margins when doing this. No good selling if you lose out.

Have a Plan in Place

So if you’ve done all of the figures and decided to go ahead with Black Friday, you need to have a solid plan in place.

We’ve seen all the images of chaos on Black Friday, and quickly things can spiral out of control.

Sure your site’s online so you won’t having shoppers fighting over the last TV, but that doesn’t mean things can’t get a little crazy.

First of all you need to have your marketing plan in place, how are you going to promote your sale/deals?

Many businesses start by building hype (as early as October) so that customers can start making a list of what they’ll want.

You could also take inspiration from Amazon and spread your Black Friday deals out over the week leading to Black Friday and after. Not only could this keep momentum going for sales but also ease the number of people who visit your site at one time.

Know what marketing messages are being sent out when so that you can anticipate when peak traffic can be expected and be ready for it.

Next you need your contingency plan in place. What will you do if something goes wrong?

If your site is overloaded with traffic, do you have backup servers ready? Do you have a holding page to inform customers who are waiting to get on the site?

You can check out just some of the big failures of last year’s Black Friday event here on Forbes. It mostly involves sites being too slow, or full on crashing. Learn from others mistakes on how to handle this.

Make Sure Your Team Is Ready

As a business, you need to make sure it’s all hands on deck if you’re participating in Black Friday.

Make sure your team is fully aware of the plan for the day and that everyone does what they should be doing. This also includes any third parties who you work with, whether that’s marketing agencies, hosting, shipping or anyone else.

Anyone who’s job impacts the success of Black Friday should be up to scratch with the aims and fully aware of what needs to be done.

You should also be aware that any third parties you work with likely have other clients who may also require their assistance on the day. Find out how they’re planning to work on Black Friday so that you don’t wind up putting a strain on any relationships you have.

Your customer support team is probably going to be the most essential team members on the day. Make sure they’re covering all the channels, including social. On such a busy day, there are bound to be customers asking questions in the quickest way they know how – via their Twitter or Facebook account.

Make sure you don’t wind up on this year’s Forbes list for Black Friday fails by making sure you respond to all queries that require your assistance.

Test Everything

In the run up to the big day, take the time to regularly test your site.

First off, test the load impact of your site to see how it performs under pressure with a tool like Load Impact.

Next imagining yourself as a customer visiting the site for the first time, try and make a purchase. We spend that much time pushing our site out, that sometimes little snags get missed.

Refresh your memory and make sure everything works. If it doesn’t it will only get amplified 10 times over with the influx of traffic.

The most important part – make sure your payment processing works. Is your SSL certificate valid? Is it simple to make a purchase?

Customers will be in a mad dash to move from site to site to get as many deals as they can; making the process as simple and as smooth as possible will ensure you get the sale.

One last thing, we keep going on about but it’s true, mobile traffic is overtaking desktop traffic so you need to take it seriously.

If your site isn’t mobile friendly, you could be missing out on vital sales.

Shameless plug – Connect your site up to neatly, and by analysing past data you can insights into areas you might not have covered such as page speed,

Track Everything

I’ve put this a separate section to testing everything because a day like Black Friday affords you a unique opportunity – a huge influx of traffic to track.

From your analytics tracking to your advertising tracking, make sure it’s all working perfectly before the big day.

There’s two opportunities here:

  • A bigger audience to build for retargeting
  • A bigger audience to learn from.

Let’s start with the first one.

Retargeting is one of the best forms of marketing/advertising because the likelihood of conversions is much higher.

With Black Friday sending a boost of traffic your way, you’ll quickly build up your retargeting audience without having to put the extra work in building traffic.

On that day you might find that people visit and don’t purchase, but using your retargeting methods (and combining it with abandoned cart emails) can be a powerful way to reel them back in.

For that second point, this all about getting insights into your business. One of the key elements of A/B testing is having statistical significance. Typically small businesses will struggle to get the kind of traffic to find statistical significance, but with the traffic on Black Friday you might just reach it.

(Bear in mind however, that this traffic might not be representative of your usual audience, but it’s still a good place to learn a thing or two).

Reflecting on your data post-Black Friday and Cyber Monday, might show a few flaws in your site or highlight a few areas in your product stock that you could capitalize on.

Over this period, there’ll be a huge opportunity to learn a lot about your site and your business once the chaos has died down.


Black Friday and Cyber Monday can potentially be huge successes or failures for many a business and it all depends on how well you prepare for it.

These are 5 essential steps that we think you need to cover in order to guarantee a successful day. Follow each step and you should be waking up on Black Friday feeling calm and prepared rather than stressed or anxious.