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How to prepare your online store for Black Friday 2021

Article provided by PayFast

One of the biggest events in the retail calendar is nearly upon us: the Black Friday / Cyber Monday period. After the ups and downs of lockdown and everything else that 2021 may have thrown your way, Black Friday 2021 can be a great opportunity to increase cash flow, move old stock, and attract new customers.

To ensure a successful Black Friday, it’s important to have a strategy in place to make sure you have all the resources needed to meet your customers’ expectations and to avoid any nasty surprises (like your website crashing or running out of stock). Last year we asked our amazing Customer Service’s team for their top tips on what you can do to prepare your e-commerce website. This year we’ve decided to ask some of our trusted partners for their tips for a profitable Black Friday.

uAfrica: Choose wisely what you put on sale

Our top Black Friday tip is to pick the products that you put on sale very carefully. Many online retailers put their biggest products on sale for Black Friday and Cyber Monday but forget to take the shipping costs into account. This means that they end up spending more on shipping the product than they made from the actual sale. It’s therefore vital to remember that couriers will base the final shipping costs on the weight and the dimensions of a product, so shipping large products is not an economically sound choice. Rather, put smaller products on sale simply due to the lower shipping cost. These smaller products with a lower shipping cost will ensure that you still cover the cost of shipping and may even still allow for a small profit.

Another thing to consider when picking your sales products is the return rate. Firstly, it’s very important to renew and double-check your return policy in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Secondly, consider putting products with a very low return rate on sale, instead of those where returns are frequent. For example, a hat has a lower return rate than a dress, where the sizing may be off. These returns, or lack thereof, could save you a lot of time and money come the Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend.

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The Insaka eCommerce Academy: Increase your capacity 

​​Get ready to dispatch far more orders than you’re used to. So often we focus on getting our promotions ready and think that we’ll worry about the higher dispatches when the time comes. But if you want to avoid unhappy customers then here are some tips to implement now:

  • Have extra staff or friends available to help you handle the higher workload and train them up in advance.
  • Buy surplus packaging materials long in advance so that you don’t run out during this busy period.
  • One risk during this busy period is that the courier is too busy to collect from your address, so ask your normal driver if you can get their cell number so that you can communicate with them.
  • Be sure to book your deliveries as soon as the orders come in, as this often moves your collection to the top of the courier’s manifest of where they’ll collect first.
  • You can also make use of locker points like PUDO as the area driver will certainly be collecting from there plus it’s far cheaper.

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1-Grid: Make sure your website can handle Black Friday traffic

One of the most important things to do in preparation for the Black Friday / Cyber Monday period is to ask your web hosting provider to perform a load test and check your site speed to make sure your website can handle an influx of traffic. If your website processes are sluggish, opt for a more robust hosting solution to avoid losing customers during the busy season.

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Retail Capital: Use Black Friday to your advantage

Black Friday ‘season’ has been perfectly positioned for years leading up to 2020, gearing spending towards the festive season. We’ve seen an increase in expenditure towards tech, home automation, renovations, self-care and gym equipment with 39.6% reporting that they made use of e-commerce platforms to continue trading over the past year. These trends will likely continue with people embracing hybrid working. With relaxation in interprovincial travel and subdued international travel, there is a real opportunity for the strained hospitality industry to capitalise on last-minute Black Friday bookings to support and enhance their turnover during the peak season. There are very few sectors that don’t have reason to capitalise on this campaign opportunity.

With the added financial pressure on the consumer, they will be eagerly awaiting special deals leading up to Christmas. Although the Black Friday experience has become a bit watered down and is typically associated with COVID-unfriendly stampedes, most merchants have spent the last few months digitising their businesses and launching e-commerce stores that could be well-positioned when running black Friday/week/month campaigns.

Here are important things that we recommend for a successful Black Friday:

  • If you are already using PayFast as your payment gateway, check your dashboard to see if you prequalify for an Easy Advance cash flow boost. This can be used to assist with purchasing more stock or for your Black Friday marketing efforts.
  • Be careful by not competing with the big brands for ad real estate leading up to and on the big days, but be prepared to jump on the wave before and straight after.
  • Use the opportunity to your advantage by clearing out the old to make room for the new.

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PayFast has your back this Black Friday

For more inspiration and other tips on how to effectively prepare your online store for Black Friday, download Chapter 7 of the PayFast Guide to Going Online. For tips specifically on how to manage your inventory and shipping, download Chapter 2.

You can also check out the video below where our Business Development Manager, Byron shares his top Black Friday tips in one minute.

We wish you the best of luck for the upcoming Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend, and don’t forget to enable as many payment methods as possible on your PayFast Dashboard ahead of time to cater to all of your customer’s preferences and to have backups in case any payment method experiences downtime.

PayFast is a proud Partner of the NSBC

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