As we are heading to the end of November, Black Friday has already arrived! Typically, we can imagine thousands of people rushing to the local/mall stores stuck next to each other at the line, to make their purchases at the lowest prices. However, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, we are facing one of the most disturbing years of all time. Therefore, Black Friday does not exactly look like those of the previous years. Most businesses are still trying to identify any opportunities on how they will be ready to adapt to the new era. Since April of 2020, we’ve seen a huge growth of e-commerce, and with that in mind, most businesses are already creating their own online stores or starting any short form of collaboration with big online stores.
Due to lockdown, many potential buyers had their first engagement with an e-shop platform in an effort to make their first-ever online purchase. As expected, a huge amount of those first-time users needed support on the checkout process, showing that even though we had a huge explosion on the e-commerce share, many buyers are still not yet familiarized with the concept of online purchases. Yet consumers have needs that have to be fulfilled. In the US, they took that into consideration, and as a result, even though the physical stores were closed on Thanksgiving, they will be open on Black Friday, but hours may vary based on local COVID health regulations or other factors. This is an effort from most store chains that aims mostly into minimizing the profit loss that would eventually outburst if there were no physical stores open. This is still dangerous for public health, as long as there is an expectation of people to arrive in the physical stores which means that there is a higher risk of virus transmission.
As a result, stores should help in this situation by assisting and providing a “perfect” user experience when a new user lands on their e-shops. Nowadays, it’s really easy to make online purchases, and users need to be guided easily, even with the help of an AI assistant (chatbot e.g.), when they want to make a purchase. These kinds of “Bots” guide the user from the moment he lands on the e-shop, until he makes a purchase, by providing any assistance, for example, “search for a specific product, or a how-to fill the blanks on the checkout process”. Then it’s really important to keep their customer aligned on the delivery process, so he is aware of when and how the product will arrive.
However, two main factors prevent people or at least make it harder for them to make an online purchase, and these are security and confidence. There are a few ways to face those problems as businesses, for instance:
- Contactless Delivery, as it will depict to the users that we take all health measurements when it comes to protecting them.
- Specific shipping costs and terms of refund/return policy. Free shipping after a certain amount and free returns are always appreciated by potential customers.
- Customers should receive a fully detailed update, depending on their delivery status. “Track & Trace” is a standard feature that each and every online store should have.
It’s pretty normal that there might be a few delivery delays, as it is a consequence, due to the high online purchasing demand. The buyer should be notified about that, which equals a better review by the end of the transaction.
Also, we should mention the fact that as businesses, this year we should prepare better than ever before not only when it comes to having enough stock and a functional e-shop platform, but also prepare and inform our potential customers. It is vital to create a specific marketing strategy, and organize the budget, newsletter, social media, and any other action we will take, in order to approach and inform our user that, “we might go through a tough period, but you can still get cheaply and easily your favorite product!”. A thank you letter with the shipped product, as well as a solid after-sales support/service is also a great addition, in order to start building a functional trustworthy relationship with a future potential loyal customer. After all, sustainable businesses need to have loyal customers to keep growing, whether those customers are online or in physical stores.
To conclude, even though this year’s Black Friday has been in one of the most disturbing eras of the past few years, there are so many opportunities that businesses can take advantage of by not only adjusting themselves to the new reality but also helping their customers adapting to that as well.