With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday only a few weeks away, now is the time to review and assess your preparations for the largest retail weekend in the U.S. Whether you run a brick-and-mortar business or are strictly online, this weekend is likely to be one of the busiest times of the year.
It’s a lot to prepare for in a normal year, but since COVID-19, things have been anything but normal. It can be overwhelming, but don’t worry! We’ve gathered 10 tips to prepare your business for Black Friday Weekend 2021.
1. Plan ahead for marketing.
This sounds like an obvious tip, but there’s so much to prepare for with Black Friday that you can’t leave to the last minute! One thing you should prepare well in advance is your marketing strategy, as you need to promote your business and your sales leading up to Black Friday weekend. How will you advertise to your customers? What special promotions will you have? Don’t forget to talk to your financial advisor about whether advertising and marketing costs may be tax deductible.
2. Check your inventory.
Check your inventory early and leave plenty of time for new shipments. There are currently a lot of delays due to issues in the supply chain, so don’t expect new shipments to be available at the last minute. Take stock of what you have and what you need while you have time to adjust. Decide whether you will use First In, First Out (FIFO) or Last In, First Out (LIFO) inventory tracking methods. There are pros and cons to each, so you may want to discuss this with your financial advisor.
3. Consider seasonal workers.
If you need them, begin interviewing and hiring seasonal workers early to give yourself enough time to fill open positions. Consider the tax and payroll implications of hiring temporary employees — will they be on a contract? What forms will you need to file for tax and information returns? If you need a payroll partner to help make sure you handle these issues correctly, now is a good time to seek advice!
4. Look to bigger companies for inspiration.
You likely won’t be able to replicate how Amazon, Target, Walmart or other big companies approach Black Friday. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn anything from watching what they do. Take note of how they prepare, the way they promote their sales, and most importantly, how they connect with customers. What makes their methods successful? What elements of their plan can you emulate in your own strategy?
5. Decide on COVID-19 precautions.
Even as vaccination numbers rise and mask mandates fall, pandemic safety procedures are still something for your business to consider, as Black Friday sales often draw large crowds. Mask and vaccination mandates differ across the country. Will you require customers to wear masks? Will you offer curbside pickup? Will you operate at a limited capacity? Check to see what your location recommends and decide what you value for your business.
6. Consider your online and mobile presence.
Black Friday 2020 saw an online spending increase of about 22%, so the Internet is a crucial part of this retail weekend. If you have an online component to your business, check that it is up-to-date and prepared for an influx of traffic. If you use e-commerce, talk to your accountant or financial advisor about making sure out-of-state sales tax is handled correctly. Even if you operate primarily from a physical location, check your Google My Business and Yelp pages. Make sure your customers have accurate information on your hours and location.
7. Balance profitability with discounts.
When deciding on your sales, remember not to set your discounts too low. Black Friday is all about keeping your business “in the black.” Your goal is not just to make sales, but to make a profit. Consider your outgoing costs, estimate how many sales you may make, and balance your prices accordingly.
8. Consider your options for accepting payments.
These days, there are lots of ways for your customers to pay you: cash, check, credit, debit, cryptocurrency, mobile payments. If you’re a small business, not all of these may be feasible, so consider what options work for you. There is an element of cost to using different services, as they may charge different rates. Don’t forget to balance both convenience for you and convenience for your customers.
9. Expect the unexpected.
No matter how much planning you do, life has a way of being unpredictable. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, being flexible has never been more important. Develop contingency plans for things you expect may go wrong but be ready to adapt to changes as they happen for other issues. Accept that not everything will be perfect and focus on doing the best you can.
10. Focus on what makes your business special.
As a small business, you have something big companies like Amazon and Walmart don’t — uniqueness. While you can find a Walmart in almost every city, your business is one-of-a-kind! You can connect with customers in a more personal way than large corporations. Focus on what you can offer your customers that no one else can!