Black Friday is upon us, but is your website ready?

Written by Hannah Ward: Managing director.
· 4 minute read

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Especially if you’re an online retailer with a savvy approach to Black Friday, the annual shopping frenzy used to boost retail sales.

This year, Black Friday in the UK falls on 25th November. We have our friends across the pond to thank for this most chaotic of shopping events, but as with other adopted American traditions (trick-or-treating, baby showers…) if you play it right, you can reap rich rewards. In 2014, Amazon increased Black Friday sales from 4 million items to 5.5million (a record), then its first ‘Prime Day’ in July 2015 was even bigger than Black Friday 2014. So it’s no wonder that this year Amazon started their Black Friday sale 12 days early, launching on the 14th November.

As an online retailer, the key to Black Friday success is of course your ecommerce site, and if your site isn’t ready for the big day, you could be missing out.

So what should you be doing to make sure your website is primed and ready to go?


Be prepared for the increase in traffic

Last year, even the big boys seemed to get a shock at the increase in traffic that Black Friday bought to their websites. Tesco attempted to deal with the onslaught by keeping customers waiting in a holding pattern and reloading the page every 30 seconds, but with customers having no idea where they were in the queue, or when the site might load for them, this proved a frustrating solution. Elsewhere, the Argos site fell over completely, instead directing users to it’s Twitter account for updates on when the site may be back up and running:

argos black friday

Source: Econsultancy

As customers, we’ve become conditioned to expect everything now, from news updates to the next-day delivery of our new shoes. So anything that gets in the way of instant gratification is going to leave customers frustrated and likely to give up and abandon their purchase. So to be on the safe side, be prepared: test your site speed and the amount of traffic it can cope with well in advance, and talk to your digital agency or hosting company about anything else that can be done to ease the strain on your server during busy times and help your site deal with demand.


A Black Friday landing page is for life, not just for Christmas

A lot of companies now have a dedicated Black Friday landing page up all year round, with content that is adapted so it’s still relevant out of season.

AO Black Friday

Tesco Black Friday

Getting a Black Friday landing page live as soon as possible means that you can start generating interest and capturing customer data well in advance of the sale day. Your landing page should also include information about collection, payment, shipping and returns, and some background info on what ‘Black Friday’ actually is. Not only does this type of content help your customers, it’s useful for SEO purposes too.

Your landing page can also incorporate some great promotional features, such as a Black Friday hashtag to raise awareness of your offers (Argos use #justcantwait). This page is also a great destination for any ‘Black Friday’ PPC campaigns that you run.


Adapt your Homepage

It might be for one day only, but your homepage is going to need a bit of a Black Friday makeover. The aim is to really draw attention to the sale, and make it as simple as possible for users to find the deals and products that they’re looking for.

It may not be Black Friday quite yet, but because Amazon have started their sale event early they already have a dedicated section on their site for Black Friday deals.

Amazon Black Friday

Whilst this isn’t the main homepage of the site (the homepage hasn’t been adapted yet), this page does give some good indicators of what should be included on a Black Friday homepage; note the large, standout banner at the top of the page with the clear sale messaging, and the strong calls to action throughout the page. There is also a Featured Deals section and even a temporary navigation down the left hand side to help users find specific sale items, which is a useful feature if the sale does not include every product on the site.

It will be interesting to see whether Amazon roll out this kind of design across their main homepage come Friday 25th.

You can also use your homepage design to add a sense of urgency by incorporating a countdown clock that ticks down the minutes to the end of the sale. But be aware that whilst a sense of urgency is great for conversions, customers may overlook important details (such as shipping and returns information) in their shopping frenzy! To avoid confusion, ensure that all sales messaging is clear and concise across the site and that all deals are explained simply with no hard-to-read small print.

Simplify the checkout process

Black Friday isn’t meant to be a ‘luxury shopping experience’: it’s simply a chance to grab a great deal, fast. This isn’t the time to capture so many details about your customer that you can write their life story, or to offer them a million gift-wrap options. Bear in mind that the average Black Friday buyer just wants a quick bargain with no fuss, so a lengthy, detailed checkout process could well be a turn-off. Just for the day, consider removing the need to register, and instead offer your customers the option to check out as a Guest to speed up checkout process.

You should also speak to your Digital Agency about undertaking CRO (conversion rate optimisation) testing on your checkout (if they’re not doing so already). This will highlight any areas of the process that could be removed or amended in order to achieve a slicker experience which results in more conversions and less drop off.

It goes without saying that your site should be optimised for mobile and tablet devices, but it’s still worth testing your checkout process on mobile before the big day. In 2014, 50% of 25-34 year olds used their mobiles to shop Black Friday deals, so providing a streamlined mobile experience has never been more important to your bottom line.

Make full use of Remarketing

If you don’t have them on your site already, you’re going to need the following:

– a Google remarketing code
– a Facebook remarketing pixel
– a Twitter remarketing tag

These tools will help you get in front of potential customers during the Black Friday period. (If you’re confused about how to get these on your site, speak to a good digital agency and they should be able to help you!)

Remarketing allows you to get back in front of users who have visited your site in the past and looked a specific product; your remarketing ads will show these customers their previously-viewed product along with the reduced price that you’re offering for Black Friday only.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that there will of course be other retailers offering very similar deals as you, and also that on this day its all about price and less about brand loyalty. This means that customers may well check out your offers, then move on and shop around to try to find a better price. Remarketing comes into it’s own here: you can set up abandoned basket campaigns and follow users around the web with your deal to remind them of what you’re offering, even when they’re looking at your competitors.


It’s all in the planning

If you’re taking part in Black Friday then there’s no escaping the fact that you’ve got a busy and frantic day ahead! But by putting your plans in place now you stand a good chance of cashing in on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Good luck on the 25th!

If you still need a bit of assistance then give us a call- we’ll be happy to help you get prepared.

Is Your Website Ready For Black Friday?