For many retailers, 2020 will have dawned with great hope and new ranges, savvy strategies and bold plans designed to delight shoppers across Australia. Through no fault of their own, though, the reality has been very different. The pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to businesses of all shapes and sizes with retailers requiring every ounce of their resilience, innovation and creativity to stay open and active, even as highstreets closed around them.

However, as the holiday shopping season approaches on the horizon, retail spend is recovering and highstreets across much of Australia are beginning to resemble their usual bustling and exciting selves. It’s important, though, that retailers continue to seize every opportunity they can; with Black Friday representing a significant day many may be circling on their retail calendar. Marking the start of perhaps the most important holiday shopping season in decades, here’s how your retail business can capitalise on Black Friday.

A growing event

Once seen as a phenomenon with little traction outside North American big box retail, it’s becoming an increasingly lucrative day in the Australian retail calendar. Indeed, from 2016 to 2018 Vend data revealed the number of Black Friday transactions increased by almost a quarter (22%) while retailer’s revenue increased by over a third (36%). What’s more, we polled Aussie shoppers ahead of the event last year, with 63% saying they intended to shop at a local retailer on Black Friday. With Australia’s retailers contending with first closures and then social distancing restrictions, we expect 2020’s event – and the excitement it generates – to be significant once again.

Start early, support local

While Black Friday is famously a one-day event, your preparations should start long before. Despite a traditional focus on mass foot traffic, this year there are crucial restrictions that must be adhered to. To demonstrate to shoppers – many of whom are still conscious of health and safety – that it’s safe to shop in your store, you’ll need to communicate that with them in advance. Then, determine what products might be popular and promote them, along with any discounts you’re offering to get people interested and invested well ahead of time. For example, with summer approaching you might want to promote beachwear or garden furniture if you’re a clothing or homewares retailer.

Making a success of the shopping bonanza is not about challenging big box brands like Amazon at their own game. After all, trying to compete with eye-watering discounts is financially unsustainable and undervalues your bespoke products. So instead of offering discounts that don’t even cover your costs, play to your strengths by promoting the bespoke nature of your products and the ‘support local’ sentiment. Talk about the quality of your products and why they make meaningful gifts, share the story behind your business, the materials you use and where they’re from. By being proud about your brand, where it’s been and where it’s going, people will likely develop a deeper connection with it – and that’s crucial.

Omnichannel approach

Black Friday is synonymous with in-store shopping, and images of eager shoppers filling carts. However, the saviest retail operations are actually ‘omnichannel’, in which an effective, targeted ecommerce presence enhances and extends the delightful experiences and beautiful products on your shop floor. While omnichannel may sound like a strategy for the future, it’s a strategy for the present through which your retail business can reach, engage and delight shoppers on every channel they use. For instance, list your in-store inventory online, develop loyalty programs, introduce click and collect and use targeted social media marketing to not only promote your Black Friday products, but cater to every customer, however they shop.

While 2020 hasn’t panned out how many retailers may have dreamed, Black Friday represents a significant opportunity to generate momentum for this year’s crucial shopping season. So start early, play to your strengths and embrace the omnichannel, and you may find that November 27 dawns with great hopes, eager shoppers and delightful retail experiences.

Gordana Redzovski is vice president for APAC at Vend