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Maximizing Black Friday Sales Potential in a COVID World

Americans are divided. Thin crust or deep dish? American League or National League? And perhaps the most divisive of all: to shop Black Friday or not? 
For Black Friday families it is a tradition as integral to the holiday as Thanksgiving dinner.

In fact, just last year, a record 124 million consumers (close to 40% of the nation’s population) participated in Black Friday in-store shopping—and that’s exclusive of the 66 million who shopped online-only 1.

Yet a mere year after those Black Friday records were set, we find ourselves in a completely different world. A third of people who shopped Black Friday in the past now don’t expect to do the same this year 2. Plus, there’s an 11% decline in intent-to-shop in-store during the holiday season as a whole 3.

How can brick & mortar retailers maximize the potential of each consumer who walks through the doors, while also keeping all shoppers safe, and even preserving some of the fun and tradition of our Black Friday retail holiday?

Here are a few thought starters on ways retailers can pivot for success this Black Friday. To those in the supplier community, the challenge is to provide resources and support as retailers implement new thinking.

Engaging Outdoors: Develop Unique Experiences Before Shoppers Even Enter

  • Black Friday Sidewalk Sale: Shoppers are now used to waiting to enter stores. They’re also likely more comfortable lingering in outdoor spaces—take advantage of that time. Add sidewalk and tented parking lot experiences. Bring featured items and highly-sought-after deals outside—Empower your shoppers to safely browse and buy out-of-store.
  • Deals on Wheels: Consider a Black Friday Deal Truck to deliver your deals directly to local neighborhoods. Post advance Deal Truck route then bring your best deals and profitable add-ons directly to your shoppers.

Ensuring Efficiency: Shoppers Must Feel Empowered to Shop Safely, with Speed

  • Increase staff visibility along strategic shopping paths—all to help consumers find products on their lists quickly.
  • Add “runners” to your staffing plan so that inevitable forgotten item can still be captured with ease—even at the register.
  • Increase your emphasis at the returns counter too: if you make the typical hassle easier, a return may still translate into a re-investment.
  • Consider BOPIS solutions: buy online, pick-up in-store. In addition to appealing to an efficient shopper, this offering extends the ability to sample new products with those shoppers, too.

Do Digital: Enhance the Shopping Experience with Engaging Digital

  • Capture shoppers along the entire path to purchase—and start now in their homes. Ensure your brands make an online splash (buy banner ads) using creative that then carries over into the store (shelf-talkers). Let them know how you plan to make Black Friday shopping safe and fun.
  • Bring back sampling with QR code-triggered digital demos throughout the aisles. These turnkey demos introduce new products to consumers swiftly to increase basket size (to mitigate current impulse-purchase decline).
  • Gamify the in-store experience. Add prizing elements within the retailer app (prizes awarded based on geo-targeting). Games draw in shoppers.

So, while we may never see eye-to-eye on the best pizza in the U.S., we can all agree that Black Friday will be different this year. With the right planning to pivot for success, you can assure the safety of shoppers while also delivering a robust Black Friday experience to boost sales in 2020.




Article written by Kristen Abreu, VP Customer Business Development, Drug – CROSSMARK
Drug Store News, October 2020

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