For small businesses, Black Friday can loom in the calendar. It’s the ultimate international peak sales day that many merchants want to get in on, yet many feel too small to compete. While eCommerce giants like Amazon can make extreme reductions to their prices, smaller rivals simply cannot offer the same discounts, and keeping up with increased transaction volumes poses a real issue.
However, all is not lost. Last Black Friday Ingenico surveyed customers across Europe, and found that peak sales buyers are motivated by more than just discounts. As it happens, over a quarter of UK consumers would prefer other incentives, including unique products, loyalty and referral bonuses, extended returns, or free next-day shipping.
Additionally, up to a quarter of online shoppers in key European markets are now choosing to shop with smaller-sized businesses or niche retailers instead of turning to larger players.
So, growing businesses can use Black Friday to boost sales through means other than short-lived discounts. Instead, they can provide a local, personalised experience and implement loyalty schemes to create a customer base.
Once the shoppers are interested, a good payments system will keep them happy and returning long after the Black Friday sales are over. Let’s take a look at how businesses can maximise their payments process to reap the benefits of every sale day.
Take on the big players
Larger businesses often triumph because of the familiar, safe process and efficient customer service they offer their consumers. If customers encounter even one negative experience with smaller businesses while trying to process their payment, they are likely to revert back to the large marketplaces they trust.
If smaller businesses can replicate the sense of ease and security that large brands provide by offering a reliable payments process, they will be creating an online environment that consumers recognise, and which can handle the increased number of transactions carried out over peak sales days. And there’s no reason smaller businesses can’t do this - Ingenico ePayments works specifically with growing companies to provide a reliable checkout, making customers feel happy and secure when they’re keying in their payment details.
With an efficient, data-secure payments system in place, smaller businesses can then focus on getting customers through the digital door.
Work to your advantage
Providing unique value-adds is the key to competing. Small businesses have the upper hand when it comes to this, their size allowing them to offer a more personalised service which improves the customer experience.
In our 2018 Black Friday survey, less than half of UK respondents cited discounts as their top attraction to sales. Two thirds were sceptical of the authenticity of discounts, while over a quarter favoured other incentives such as unique products, loyalty and referral bonuses, an extended returns/exchange window period, or free next-day shipping.
One fun idea could be to entertain your shoppers and build loyalty with a gamified checkout. Instead of offering 10% discounts on an item or basket, offer a 1 in 10 chance to win that item or basket for free. Once payment is complete, the customer can then try their luck by playing a short, interactive game. Ingenico gamified checkouts offer merchants the ability to get creative and personalise the parameters themselves to suit their business and maximise impact. This is where SMBs can compete – focus on the offering, not slashing prices.
Use digital and social
Small businesses should also take advantage of digital marketing techniques, one of the simplest ways to get your message out to a large audience. By focussing on clever SEO and using the right social media, SMBs can ride off the back of the marketing wave large merchants create on these peak sales days.
Through online advertising, you can target those customers most likely to shop with you. 18-24 year olds collectively make up 73% of the UK’s retail audience during Black Friday, with similar results seen across mainland Europe. However, the largest demographic to get involved with the sales in Spain is the over 55’s. So, focus in on the right audiences in the right places when tailoring your campaigns.
To help growing businesses take advantage of these opportunities, Ingenico created a downloadable calendar highlighting the key peak sales dates that merchants should be aware of. Armed with this information, small merchants will be empowered to navigate and prepare for the busiest shopping days with ease. We also created a social media toolkit to help SMBs optimise their social media strategy, drive engagement and maximise conversions.
Don’t be afraid to cross borders
Peak sales days present a great opportunity to branch out and market your product outside of your domestic market. Analysing Ingenico’s peak sales transaction data over the past three years has found that consumers are increasingly happy to buy from eCommerce merchants from other countries. From 2017-18, cross-border sales rose by 70% on Black Friday, and by 71% on Cyber Monday. Shoppers are no longer tied to their physical location, and as long as the shopping, checkout and delivery process feels local to them, they will have no problem buying internationally.
Though barriers may be diminishing online, it’s crucial to remember that each region is incredibly diverse, reflecting their own unique cultures and histories. Languages are different, tastes vary, and payment methods alternate – this should all be taken into account by merchants to ensure the best customer experience in every new region they wish to target. Offering a range of languages, local currencies and regional payments preferences can make the difference when it comes to converting those international sales.
Triumph this Black Friday
There are many ways Black Friday can be leveraged by small and medium-sized businesses to allow them to compete with large retailers. When combined with a reliable payments process able to cope with increased international transactions and provide the familiar, one-on-one experience consumers are looking for, SMBs can utilise Black Friday to create repeat, loyal custom for long after the peak sales day is over.
To learn more about how Ingenico can provide support to small merchants during peak sales periods, go to: www.ingenico.co.uk/peaksales.