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CAPE TOWN - Small businesses can take advantage of Black Friday by winning customers and keep them coming back for more, says Vice President of New Customer Acquisition, Viresh Harduth. 

As the retail industry gears up for the frenzied time of the year, November 24 will give consumers the necessary kickstart for the holiday season. 

Shops will be over flooded and in disarray with consumers searching for the latest bargains. 

Black Friday allows companies to attract more customers, says Harduth. 

Adding to the hype, this year’s Black Friday is anticipated to be the biggest yet, despite a depressed economy. 

Last year, the shopping holiday boosts retail sales by an impressive 3.5% and by 10% year-over-year. 

However, December last year showed a slagged retail growth with a mere 0.9% year-on-year increase, according to Stats SA. 

Consumer’s change in purchasing behaviour suggests that businesses who do not participate in Black Friday, could experience cash flow problems during the subdued December and January spending months, says Harduth. 

READ: Black Friday sale: shoppers broke

Despite this slagged purchasing growth, Harduth provides ways in which small businesses can take advantage of and survive the Black Friday frenzy:

1. Start early and market

Consumers should ideally start researching Black Friday deals weeks in advance. This will ensure that they know exactly where to find the best deals. For companies to benefit, they should advertise their specials in advance and include teasers. This acts as a advent calendar that gives customers something to look forward to, in the run up to the main event. 

Creating a unique hashtag and rewarding customers who submit the best product image could send social media into hysteria. Companies could also offer discount vouchers on future purchases if shoppers sign up for a newsletter. 

2. Listen 

Black Friday is hot on the lips of everyone. Companies should tune into the conversation to understand what the target market is hoping to find deals. This way, companies can meet their consumer’s needs. This could be done by asking customers to “write to Santa” and submit their Black Friday wish-lists. 

Harduth says that Twitter is the best platform to monitor real time conversations. 

3. Organise

Stock will fly off the shelves the minute that Black Friday commences. Therefore, companies should ensure that all their stock levels are up to date. This will ensure that customers are not disappointed. To easily track inventory and sales, an online solution can be adopted. This buys the company time to adequately stock their shelves with in-demand products. 

4. Test

Black Friday is all about speed, says Harduth. Therefore, a company’s website should be able to handle increased traffic. Customers are turned away from inefficiency and slow response. Companies can consult with an IT professional in advance to ensure that the website does not cave under pressure and cause a loss in sales. 

5. Prepare 

Black Friday requires that all operations work in sync. Companies should therefore ensure that their logistics partner can handle increased deliveries. Distribution companies can also score on Black Friday by offering discounted rates or round-the-clock deliveries on the day. 

Staff is also essential on Black Friday. This is an opportunity for unemployed youths to gain work experience. 

6. Focus on the experience

Small businesses can offer a more personalised shopping experience than large businesses, especially on Small Business Saturday, says Harduth. Small Business Saturday, an offshoot of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, encourages people to support small businesses in their areas. Small businesses should try to create a relaxed environment for their customers, amid the disarray. 

Harduth says that because there will be excessive traffic in stores, they should take advantage of this. This is an ideal time for shoppers to sample new products. When you create a memorable shopping experience, customers will tell their friends about it.

7. Offer a variety of payment options 

On Black Friday, customers want to bag their deals as quickly as possible and move on to the next store. Companies payment system should enable quick shopping by handling a higher transaction rate. 

Harduth says that when accepting card payments in store, the essential goal is to is to minimise queue wait intervals. Hire more staff to serve more customers or adopt a wireless POS system that takes the checkout counter to the customer – like right outside the change rooms of your boutique clothing store. When it comes to e-commerce, confusing or non-functioning payments pages are one of the biggest reasons why shoppers abandon their carts – and why businesses only close 3% of online sales. Create online payments shortcuts and ensure your website is mobile friendly. Adopt a payments solution that accepts a variety of payment options.

READ ALSO: Debt expert warns about perils of Black Friday

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE