Black Friday Will Look Different This Year. Here’s How Small Businesses Can Prepare

Black Friday typically brings about imagery of streets filled with bustling shoppers, stores packed shoulder-to-shoulder with customers and long, winding lines of people eagerly waiting to snag doorbuster deals. But with COVID-19 safety measures to consider, Black Friday this year won’t look like the frenzied, busy shopping day we’re used to seeing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently stated that “going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving” is considered a high-risk activity and should be avoided, recommending that shopping online is the safer alternative.

In-store shopping has already been restricted across the U.S. to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, so the CDC’s suggestion isn’t surprising. Plus, only 12% of Americans are planning to shop in-store this Black Friday according to a recent consumer survey by Morning Consult. Retailers experienced a surge of online shopping at the beginning of the pandemic as consumers rushed to purchase essentials, and Black Friday (November 27) is gearing up to be no different as bargain shoppers opt to take advantage of limited-time offers.

Below, read about how COVID-19 may affect your small business and how texting can help your Black Friday marketing strategy this year in preparation for the shift to online shopping.

1. Get your Black Friday marketing ready now—sales will start much earlier this year

Customers may not want to shop in crowded stores this Black Friday, but they also don’t want to risk missing out on the lowest prices of the year. To accommodate, major retailers like Home Depot and Target are offering their holiday deals weeks ahead of time so that customers can shop either in stores comfortably or socially distanced from their couch.

Suggested reading: 10 Holiday Text Message Templates to Use with Customers This Year

Consider doing the same for your brick-and-mortar store to offset crowds and to make up for any lost in-store revenue on Black Friday. Send out Black Friday marketing communications early to allow customers to plan ahead for both in-store offers and online-only deals.

Keep customers in-the-know of early sales with texting
Customers’ email inboxes will be packed with messages from retailers. Stand out by adjusting your Black Friday marketing and send text messages instead. Zipwhip’s 2020 State of Texting survey found that 52% of consumers prefer to receive a text for marketing and promotions, so consider capturing early shoppers with flash sales and discounts exclusive to text subscribers.

Black Friday marketing using sms promotion for small businessA text promotion is also an effective re-engagement tool because customers will see the message much faster than they would an email — the average consumer has 96 unread emails in their inbox and only 0.5 unread text messages at a given time. The right discount delivered via text can help a customer make a fast decision to purchase an item they’ve been eying. Or for more popular items that may go out of stock, a text can quickly notify customers when the item is back on the shelves so they can move fast before it sells out again.

2. Set expectations—the demand in online shopping may affect shipping timelines

With so many consumers planning to shop online this Black Friday, shipping carriers are bracing themselves for a busier-than-usual season. If you’ve ordered anything online throughout the pandemic, you’ve likely experienced delivery delays. Black Friday shoppers may experience similar lag times.

Set expectations about shipping timelines
Communicate with customers that shopping early can help offset major delays and consider creating a page on your website with “Order by” shipping dates so that deadlines for timely delivery are clear.

Suggested reading: How Text Marketing Can Improve Online Sales While Social Distancing 

FedEx recommends overcommunicating the order status and delivery notification to customers throughout the shipment process. Doing so can reduce customer service calls and emails. Sending status and delivery updates via text is a great option for keeping customers in the loop since visibility is much higher than email.

Encourage curbside or in-store pickup
Incentivize customers to pick up their orders curbside or inside your store by communicating that it may be the fastest way to get their orders and that they’ll be saving money on shipping fees.

Black Friday marketing example for small business using curbside pickup text message

Curbside pickup can be made easy with texting. Send a text when their order is ready and provide instructions for what to do when they get there. Set up a keyword for them to text when they arrive that triggers an auto-reply message letting them know you’ll be right out.

3. Customers may purchase fewer experiences and opt for traditional gifts

In recent years, shoppers have preferred to receive experiences (such as vacations and entertainment) over material gifts for the holidays. But according to The Washington Post, this preference may shift as in-person gatherings will be limited and travel restrictions remain in place throughout the pandemic.

Consider working this type of messaging into your Black Friday marketing campaigns if it’s applicable to your business. Or create gift guides on your website with items from your store to help customers easily shop for friends and family on their list. Send out your guide(s) to text subscribers and promote them on your social media channels.

Black Friday marketing strategy for small business SMS example

4. Getting in touch with your business will need to be easier than ever for customers

The holidays naturally bring about more customer service calls and emails, whether shoppers have a simple question about items in stock or need help with an order. As more customers will shop from home, they’ll appreciate a convenient way to get in touch with you if they need assistance.

Zipwhip’s 2020 State of Texting report found that 53% of customers prefer to use texting for customer service and support over phone calls and email. Customers expect help quickly, and they’re able to get a response almost immediately over text compared to email where it’s common for replies to take days or over the phone where wait times can be long.

Let customers text you on your existing business phone number (landline, VoIP or toll-free) with texting software like Zipwhip. Learn how Zipwhip works here.

Once that’s up and running, don’t forget to let your customers know they can text you. Simply add “Text or Call” next to your phone number in your Black Friday marketing messages.


New to texting customers this holiday season? Check out these resources to get started on your Black Friday marketing strategy 2020:

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