Business Victoria | 21 October 2021
November has become the busiest month for Australian shoppers. Online sales days such as Click Frenzy, Black Friday and Cyber Monday provide a significant volume of sales for some of the most well-known retailers worldwide – but what about small to medium-sized businesses?
Trends have been moving steadily online for years and 2020 and 2021 have seen that accelerate at breakneck speed. In 2020, Australians spent over $50 billion online, and total online sales averaged an annual rise of 67.1% from March to November 2020 alone.
Australians are predicted to spend almost $11 billion on Christmas presents this year. So how can your small business use online sales days to your advantage this November and beyond?
Online shoppers have come to expect easy and smooth transactions when buying online. Make your online store the best it can be by making sure your site is optimised to convert visitors into customers and has the bandwidth to handle any increase in traffic on sale days.
Some eCommerce platforms such as Shopify allow you to add an app to email visitors who abandon their shopping carts on your website. It will give you one last chance to remind customers that their items are still waiting and even offer a coupon.
If you haven’t yet made your online store the best it can be, Business Victoria’s Small Business Digital Adaptation Program might be able to help you.
Adding a click-and-collect option to your shop website gives customers the convenience of online shopping while saving both you and the customer the time and cost involved in shipping. It also means getting to interact face-to-face with your online customers and getting a faster turnover of customers in your store.
Research by Salesforce found that US-based store chains that offered curbside, drive-and-collect or in-store pick up options had 26% more digital sales than retailers that didn’t during the first part of Cyber Week.
The key to making this work is accurate stock levels that update in real-time and processes that allow you or your employees to reserve items as soon as an order comes through.
Think about the type of consumers you might get for each sale and what they might be shopping for.
Boxing Day, for example, might pay off more if you want to move past-season stock at a higher discount. Whereas, for November sales, many shoppers have Christmas and holiday shopping in the backs of their minds.
Figure out ways you can make it easier on them by promoting bundle pricing, gift packs, vouchers or offering gift wrapping. Just be aware of how long it will take to package and deliver products in time for Christmas.
You can also create social media posts or blog articles on present ideas for the holidays.
Consider adding a ‘gift ideas’ section to your shop website so customers can browse for inspiration.
Generally, the most popular Black Friday products are tech and electronics, fashion and home improvement.
If you had an online shop last year, check your analytics to figure out what your customers were looking for and where they were coming from. This will help you get ahead of any trends and advertise products accordingly.
Shop local sentiment has intensified this year so capitalise on what customers can get from you that they can’t from big stores or brands.
You can also consider promotions that are less likely to damage your profit margin, such as:
If offering a gift with purchase online, make sure it’s something that will be cheap enough to post and factor the cost into your margins.
It helps to remember that some potential customers are intimidated by crowds and might feel like busy sale days aren’t for them.
Offering pick-up or fast local delivery will also draw Christmas shoppers who can’t afford to risk postage delays.
A carefully wrapped package and personalised note in online orders can go a long way to create a connection with customers you may never see face-to-face. Read more about the power of packaging and unboxing in this article by Australia Post.
Many consumers start planning before the sale events start. Promote your sales in advance on social media and get your followers to spread the word:
While not every business has the capacity to go all-out one day a year, sometimes celebrating an event could be as simple as promoting exclusivity or ‘gamifying’ your promotions in a scaled-down version of what the big stores do:
There are pros and cons to small businesses selling products through online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Catch, Ozsale or even Facebook Marketplace.
On one hand, these brands come with a large audience for you to tap into and more money to spend on their platform. And for big sale days, marketplaces are often the most efficient ways for customers to do their shopping.
Getting your products out in the market can also be faster this way if you’re starting from scratch.
On the other, not only are you giving up a portion of your profits but you lose some of your brand identity to the bigger umbrella brand. Instead of interacting with you, customers interact with the marketplace, so you lose some control over the customer experience that many SMEs find essential to building connection and brand loyalty.
Ultimately, though, this will depend on your endgame and the goals you’ve set for your business. Marketplaces can be a great way to get your products out there – just make sure you’ve considered your options and have chosen it as part of your broader business strategy.
If you sell in an online marketplace:
If you haven’t already planned your sales and social media campaigns – or you want some tips for next year – here are some online shopping sale days to mark on your calendar for the months ahead.
Born in Australia in 2012 as a response to Cyber Monday, the Click Frenzy website acts as a catalogue of deals from other businesses, big and small.
The main online shopping event is in early November, with 2021’s falling on 9 November, but there are also several other smaller Click Frenzy sales throughout the year.
Falling on 11 November each year – because “one is the loneliest number” – Singles’ Day is a Chinese day unofficially dedicated to celebrating single people. More importantly, it’s also the largest retail shopping day in the world, both in physical stores and online.
Singles’ Day 2020 smashed previous records by almost double to make more than $74 billion in sales worldwide, and in recent years Australian brands and products have become some of the most sought after for Chinese consumers shopping internationally.
Singles’ Day deals are most often sold through international marketplaces like Alibaba. But that doesn’t mean you can’t join hundreds of other Aussie brands and offer your own deals in store and online to capitalise on the hype.
While the name sounds bleak, Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States – and one of the most popular worldwide. Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, stores throw their doors open to swarms of camped-out shoppers on the hunt for a bargain (or many).
The day is a favourite pastime for many US consumers and as Australians aren’t ones to miss out on an event (we even weaseled our way into Eurovision), shoppers and retailers have quickly taken to Black Friday since it first graced our shores 10 years ago. In 2020, Australia was ranked third
Black Friday isn’t officially until 26 November, but the sales seem to start earlier every year as competition between businesses grows, and consumers take advantage of the discounts to get their shopping done early.
Trends have shown that Black Friday is gaining popularity over Boxing Day and is increasingly becoming a large part of businesses’ pre-Christmas sales.
Online sales are likely to increase further this year thanks to the coronavirus (COVID‑19) pandemic. So, if you’re not on board with the Black Friday weekend already, it might be the year to start.
Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US is Small Business Saturday. The latest addition to the Black Friday weekend, the day is a reminder to shoppers to keep it local and visit smaller brick-and-mortar stores.
The past 2 years have fortified the ‘shop local’ movement. A 2020 survey by CouriersPlease found that 4 out of 5 Australian shoppers would choose to support small and local businesses over big, global brands. This means there’s no better year to spread the word about Small Business Saturday on 27 November.
Black Friday isn’t just a day anymore but the kickstart to the shopping season. Cyber Monday falls on the Monday after Black Friday – 29 November this year. As the name suggests, the day promotes online shopping, gaining prominence over the years as more retailers and consumers turn to eCommerce.
Cyber Monday works especially well for those consumers who are looking for a bargain but aren’t drawn to the crowds or urgency of Black Friday. It’s also a great opportunity to catch more hesitant customers who might want to research different products and price-match before committing to a purchase.
Many retailers will promote different deals over the sales weekend to try to catch repeat business. You can get an idea of what other retailers have planned for Cyber Monday 2021 on Finder.
You probably don’t have to be reminded about Boxing Day sales, which start the day after Christmas on 26 December. While Black Friday has certainly given Boxing Day a run for its money in recent years, Boxing Day isn’t going anywhere quietly. And according to Finder, there’s a place in Australia’s heart for both days.
If you’re not set up for eCommerce, now might be the time to look into it. The increase in international brands in Australia, and ease and convenience of online shopping, has pushed the Boxing Day sales more online each year.
Plus, if your target customer is someone who’d prefer to shop while watching the test cricket at home, they’ll probably thank you for it.
You can get a sneak peak of other retailers’ Boxing Day 2021 deals on Finder.
Love it or loathe it, these shopping sale days are here to stay and the trend towards online shopping is showing no sign of slowing down.
With postage delays and the ‘shop local’ sentiment of the last 18 months driving many Australian shoppers to support small Australian businesses, this summer shopping period could be looking up for SMEs that have set their sights on eCommerce to stay in the game.
It’s time for small, local businesses to jump on board. So, make sure your marketing efforts now will keep customers coming back for the rest of the shopping season and the next.