retailer tips black friday 2018

Black Friday 2018 Checklist: Prepare Your Store

Once a US-only phenomenon, Black Friday has conquered the minds of shoppers and retailers around the globe and truly became a worldwide event.

Last year, Black Friday brought X billion dollars of revenue for retailers. If you want a slice of that meaty pie, now is the time to start planning your next move. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back with our new Black Friday 2018 Checklist.

This year, Black Friday falls on November 23. You can track how much time you’ve got left with this Black Friday 2018 Countdown:

‘Tis the season to start spending

At the time of writing this article, Black Friday is two weeks away. What’s the rush, then? Why do you need to prepare so far in advance?

A 2017 survey found out that 54% of consumers begin holiday shopping before Black Friday. To be exact:

  • 45% start shopping before November 1.
  • 25% start shopping before October.
  • 12% start shopping during the summer.

The National Retail Federation expects the sales to be up 4.1% in 2018. Want to get in on it? Then you need to start your preparations yesterday.

Luckily, we’ve created a 14-step list that covers most retail issues around Black Friday. Feel free to skip to any tip you like:


  1. Prepare your inventory
  2. Research wish list trends
  3. Offer mouth-watering deals
  4. Plan B to Z
  5. Prepare your staff
  6. Give your store a makeover
  7. Personalized emails
  8. Newsletters
  9. Social media
  10. Paid advertising
  11. Get your website up to speed
  12. Invest in crowd control systems
  13. Pre-Black Friday sales
  14. Bring in additional help

Last-minute preparations

Get your store ready for Black Friday

Black Friday isn’t a marathon; it’s a 100m hurdle race. It’s over before you know it, and in order not to get trampled — both figuratively and literally — you need to prepare extensively.

There are several factors which you need to focus on to get your store primed and ready for the Black Friday frenzy.

1. Prepare your inventory

black friday retailer tip

The first thing you need to do is stock up on your physical goods.

Black Friday generates on average 3.6 times more sales than a normal day in November. Look up the sales data from previous years and plan your inventory based on it.

Take into account that there will be an uptick in demand. Aim a little above your estimations, as you don’t want to suddenly run out of stock during the most profitable weekend of the year.

prepare store for black friday

It’s the 21st century, so you don’t need a crystal ball to know what your customers want to buy. Based on Statista’s consumer survey conducted in October 2018, these are top six purchase categories on consumers’ wishlists:

  • Electronics: 30%
  • Apparel and/or footwear: 22%
  • Toys: 22%
  • Media (books, movies, video games, etc.): 22%
  • Cosmetics: 16%
  • Household appliances: 16%

Look at the sales and customer data from previous year and plan this year’s Black Friday accordingly.

3. Offer mouth-watering deals

black friday retailer tip

47% of shoppers are saving money in advance of Black Friday, and 15% are working overtime

That is not to say that these shoppers will be willing to part with their money. When it’s Black Friday, customers are on the lookout for good deals, with 48% of consumers shopping in a store based on the deals they find.

4. Plan B to Z

black friday retailer tip

Have proper backups in case something goes awry — which it most assuredly will.

For example, shipping companies or suppliers could suddenly turn their backs on you. Do you have a contingency plan in this case? Or, what happens when you run out of a specific item? Do you have similar products or alternatives?

Black Friday is a very short event, and you don’t get a do-over. The devil is in the detail, so plan out every little thing. Your customers will surely notice and appreciate your efforts.

5. Prepare your staff

prepare store for black friday

It doesn’t matter if your employees are veterans or still wet behind their ears, Black Friday is sure to make them stressed. And no wonder, for it is the ultimate test of your staff’s resolve.

Preparation is half the battle won. If you want your employees to expertly manage Black Friday, it’s time for some blockbuster-level of training montage.

Teach your employees how to handle risky situations and avoid conflicts, and make sure they know what they get into. Give them all the means they’d need to manage crowds, serve visitors, and navigate the shopping location.

6. Give your store a makeover

black friday retailer tip

In the US alone, there will be 140 million customers going to stores over the Black Friday weekend. To put that into perspective, usually it takes 20 days for as many people to visit stores.

This number is as inspiring as it is fear-inducing. The questions you should be asking yourself are:

  • Can my store handle the increased foot traffic?
  • Does my staff know how to manage crowds?
  • Does the layout look inviting and attractive?

Make no mistake: Your store is the face of your business. Shopping decisions are greatly impacted by how a consumer views your business. Iron all the kinks in the interior of your store, so that it would look presentable and inviting.

Spread the word

Create the Black Friday buzz

What’s the point of preparing your store and stocking up on the goods if your customers don’t even know about it? Don’t be shy, it’s your time to shine. Use every channel possible to spread the word about your deals and special offers.

7. Personalized emails

retailer tips for black friday

The goal of personalization in emails is to get more conversions. When email messages are catered to your customers’ needs or personality, they will a stronger connection with your brand. 49% of consumers expect messages that are relevant to their interests.

Segment your customers by demographics, gender, shopping history, etc. to make personalization deeper.

You can even send a personalized abandoned cart email, where you convince to continue with the purchase or maybe recommend an alternative.

8. Newsletters

retailer advice black friday

Newsletters are by nature less personalized than emails, but they are perfect for sale announcements aimed at large target groups. Plug in that special offer in your pre-Black Friday newsletter for maximum outreach.

Want to inject some excitement? Announce a giveaway or a contest. You can also promise a discount code or a free gift coupon for signing up for your newsletter.

What’s more, you can use the emails later to send your customers personalized emails and keep them in the loop.

9. Social media

prepare store for black friday

For retailer to achieve success, they need to stay active on social media. It’s the perfect way to share your offers and deals, with high-quality pictures of the items you promote.

Image-centric platforms like Instagram and Pinterest work the best. You may also want to take advantage of Facebook Live. 80% of Facebook users prefer live videos to reading a blog, and 82% prefer it to social posts.

The same could be done with Instagram Stories, which are a cool way to engage your audience.

Use social media wisely, as it can help you not only promote your products before Black Friday but get your unique brand personality across.

10. Paid advertising

black friday how to prepare

It’s a holiday season, so get ready for expensive ad bidding, especially if your niche is competitive. It is absolutely worth it, though, since people are searching for most lucrative deals before Black Friday.

Research the keywords that you want to rank for and invest in ads that are informative, alluring and to the point.

11. Get your website up to speed

store preparation for black friday

Online shopping on Black Friday soared. In 2017, shoppers spent over 5 billion dollars, which is an 16.9% increase from the year before. Meanwhile, foot traffic at physical locations decreased less than 1% when compared to Black Friday 2016.

That is not to say that brick-and-mortar shops needs to pack it in and go home. Rather, they need to take full advantage of online shopping and start betting on online presence.

Just like with your physical store, you need to optimize your website and get it ready for a huge temporary boost in traffic. Get your website up to speed, both figuratively and literally — no one enjoys laggy pages.

Customers are looking for good deals, but great experiences can make up for a high price. You can entice customers with one-click ordering, easy returns, free shipping, and of course mobile optimization. Mobile purchases alone generated over 40% of site visits in 2017!

Everybody was kung fu fighting

Ensuring physical safety of customers

Crazy bargain sales can, unfortunately, give rise to mob mentality, resulting in (self-)harm, accidents and even fatalities. In 2008, a Walmart employee got trampled to death during the store’s opening.

It’s not a US-only problem, as the United Kingdom also saw some fight outbreaks and scuffles after having imported Black Friday.

Don’t let the opportunity to make money cloud your judgement. The safety of your employees and visitors should always come first.

12. Invest in crowd control systems

prepare store for black friday

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends to rely on crowd management systems to prevent crowd crushes, shopping riots and other disorderly conducts.

Adopting a retail queue management system is how you get rid of chaotic lines and mismanaged crowds. Plus, the data that such a system gives you can greatly boost your customer service.

When it’s Black Friday, you need every bit of help available.

13. Pre-Black Friday sale

black friday store preparation

To minimize the risk of harm to your employees and visitors, you can emulate what Walmart has been doing, by opening a few hours earlier to cater to more shoppers.

Best Buy also decided to open its doors at 5pm the day before Black Friday, working until 1am and then resuming work at 8am.

The key is to give your shoppers more options in terms of days and hours. If the window of opportunity is too narrow, you risk causing huge crowds.

14. Bring in additional help

how to prepare store black friday

Bring in seasonal help to help with the holiday influx of customers. Schedule shifts and breaks — trust us, your employees will need them.

If possible, hire additional security guards and loss prevention officers in case any emergencies happen. Safety

Also, though this should go without saying, be sure to remunerate your extra help accordingly. Black Friday is a stressful period for employees, and it’s only fair that they get rewarded for their effort.

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