How to Keep Customers Safe During Black Friday 2020
Don't Let COVID-19 Get in the Way of Shopping's Biggest Holiday
Since the early 2000s, Black Friday has become synonymous with fights, stampedes, and steep discounts.
This year is different.
In addition to the usual extensive preparations for Black Friday, which falls on November 27, retailers will have to follow local government and public health guidelines and implement additional precautions to limit the possible spread of COVID-19 in-store.
But that’s not stopping customers.
According to recent Shopkick surveys, 71 percent of shoppers plan to complete their holiday shopping both online and in-store, which means the majority of customers will still be making trips to brick-and-mortar shops this year.
Additionally, 27 percent of shoppers plan to shop between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, while 17 percent plan to shop on Black Friday exclusively.
Is Black Friday Dead? Far From It
Although foot traffic in retail stores is expected to decrease from last year because of the pandemic, there are still shoppers looking to find in-person deals, and a lot of them are planning to do it on Black Friday.
To help retailers cope with the tumultuous, pre-Thanksgiving holiday shopping event, we’ve compiled a list of tips that will help you run a smooth sale while keeping your customers safe.
How Retailers Can Make Black Friday Safer for Customers
Extend Sales Over a Longer Period of Time
Part of the mayhem of Black Friday is that it’s often billed as a one-day super sale to create perceptions of scarcity and drive demand.
Instead, consider offering the same deals throughout the week leading up to or following November 27, eliminating the need for panicked buyers to crowd your store all on the same day.
Big-box electronic retailer Best Buy has opted to hold a month-long sale throughout November and has implemented safety measures in stores. By holding sales throughout the month, they’re giving holiday shoppers incentive to shop great deals on more than just one day.
Walmart is also holding multi-day sales with their Black Friday Deals for Days event. Beginning on November 7, Walmart will host three separate weekends of in-store and online deals. The company traditionally kicks off its Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day but has opted to close its U.S. stores to give associates some much-needed rest and family time this year.
Promote Black Friday Deals in Advance
According to Criteo data, “buyers who shop for the first time from a retailer during Black Friday weekend make their first online visit, regardless of the browsing environment, 41 days prior on average.” That means you’ve got more than a month to influence the shopping decisions of new customers.
With people less likely to go out to stores to browse this Black Friday, make sure your customers know what they’ll find in-store. Advertise sales on products that rarely get marked down, hot-ticket holiday items on sale, and deals tailored to your shoppers’ interests.
Target is another company stretching out Black Friday sales across November and they’re making sure their customers know it. They will release a new ad promoting different sales each week, beginning on October 29. This not only informs shoppers of Target’s upcoming sales but allows them to plan when it is most opportune for them to shop in-store—or ideally, encourages them to come back multiple times for additional purchases.
Analyze Data to Determine Stock Levels
Part of the frenzy of Black Friday is customers scrambling to get their hands on products before they sell out.
To avoid this from happening and keep everyone socially distant, retailers should analyze data to determine how much stock they have in-store or need to order.
Many stores already track data via store audits, inventory counts, and POS systems. It’s worth analyzing some of this data to see what your store’s best-selling items are, which promotions have worked particularly well in the past, and which items often require rainchecks (or customer follow-ups). Doing so gives you an idea of what the most in-demand items will be on Black Friday.
There are also tools like Google’s Rising Retail Categories that can help retailers track what purchases and search queries are rising in popularity in specific areas. The tool was created to help track buying patterns as they rapidly and unpredictably change during the pandemic.
Take Advantage of Pre-orders and Curbside Pick-up
If you really want accurate customer demand data, offer pre-orders. That way, shoppers can confirm their purchase well before November 27. This year especially, pre-orders can also offer shoppers the opportunity for pre-arranged curbside pick-up.
Curbside pick-up helps lower the number of customers indoors and makes things more manageable for staff. The quick nature of curbside transactions also helps limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission between customers and associates.
For larger items like electronics and appliances, consider arranging for employees to load purchases directly into customers’ vehicles for a completely contactless experience.
Implement Extra Black Friday Safety Measures
In addition to following local government and public health guidelines, retailers can implement extra measures to ensure their staff and customers feel safe on Black Friday:
- Limit the number of people in-store at one time
- Reduce store hours (to have fewer employees overlapping shifts)
- Recommend that all patrons wear masks (in many areas, this is now mandatory)
- Provide hand sanitizer to customers at entranceways
- Frequently clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and items
- Install plexiglass barriers between check-out aisles
Going above and beyond requirements like screening employees—and letting your customers know that you are doing so—can go a long way towards making customers (and employees) feel safe this Black Friday.
Black Friday 2020 is going to be a unique occasion, but with these tips, you can still make it a shopping event that will keep customers safe and satisfied.