How to Prepare for the Black Friday Clash

Black Friday 2020 could be one for books. With industries around the world suffering from the pandemic, the busiest shopping weekend of the year will be a turning point for many retailers.


In 2019, Americans spent more money on Black Friday shopping than ever before. Around 40% of shoppers made online purchases. This amounts to 93.2 million buying online. Black Friday shopping figures in the U.S. showed more consumers embracing mobile and general online shopping for the best deals. Meanwhile average order volume increased, showing more willingness to make big ticket purchases via smartphone.


With the landscape continuously evolving, it can be difficult to predict what the future holds. Some industries are still seeing surprising increases in e-commerce sales, whilst others struggle to stay afloat. However, even with the fluctuating environment, it is still possible to apply the most fundamental strategies to try to ensure Black Friday is a success.


Let’s look at proven ways to stand out from the crowd during eCommerce’s most competitive day of the year.





Black Friday 2020 for Retailers:


The Countdown to Black Friday - Time to Optimize

Prepare your Online Store for Black Friday - Checklist

1. Set a strategy and Make Budget Plan

2. Create a Virtual Shopping Experience and Make Sure your Store is Ready

3. Bet on Free Shipment and In-store Pickups & Returns 

4. Craft an Exceptional Offer and Apply Discounts

5.  Promote Your Offer with Email Marketing and Social Media Campaigns


How to Get your Google Shopping Campaigns Ready for Black Friday

1. Clear your feed of errors

2. Fix issues at a product level

3. Check Impression and Click Share metrics

4. Improve Top Spot Impression Share

5. Take a look at last year's data

6. Assess your feed's health

7. Prioritize your feed improvements

8. Improve product titles

9. Improve your descriptions

10. Increase the frequency of feed updates


Why is 2020 Black Friday Going to Be Different?




The Countdown to Black Friday - Time to Optimize


With more retailers on the web than ever, and with Amazon leading the charge, there's going to be some fierce price wars over the next few months. 


Online retailers know that the Black Friday weekend can be a make-or-break for their yearly sales. The exceptionally high sales that occur during this time can deliver impressive returns and make up for the rest of the year.


It is also one of the most stressful times of year for retailers. Trying to reap the most rewards will put a lot of strain on the merchant. 


"Multiple reliable forecasts say that people will shop more online this holiday season than ever before. And this will in particular affect Black Friday as the biggest revenue peak in the fourth quarter. Originally, Black Friday started as a retail event in the United States. Europe adopted it and made it digital.

2020 already goes down in history as one of the most intense years ever. Retail has suffered all over the world under the pandemic and at the same time, eCommerce has grown significantly. What we already know: this trend will continue in the fourth quarter."


Timo Bernsmann who built up the German market for FINCH,

a key contributor in different roles, including his current position overseeing global marketing efforts.



Black Friday is sooner than you might think, and it's worth starting to planning your strategy.




So what can you do to avoid missing out on the most important retail event of the year? Here are some of the best tactics to help you with two important aspects of your shopping campaigns:


  • How to perform a Google Shopping historic performance check.
  • Prioritize the feed improvements with the highest bottom line impact. 


Return to top of page or Download The Ultimate Google Merchant Center Handbook

Tips on How To Prepare Your Online Business for Black Friday


We are still learning about Black Friday 2020. And whilst we have many predictions on the outlook, nothing is certain in an ever changing environment. Nonetheless, here are some useful tips to help your business easily adapt to the constant market fluctuations:


1. Set a Strategy and Make Budget Plan

Think of it like a sporting event. If you show up to the game, with no pre-game preparation, you're not going to be ready to win.


How do you make your store go long before Black Friday? Winning teams prepare well in advance of the actual event, just like winning Merchants.

According to an AdWords report, 61% of shoppers look for special holiday deals way before Thanksgiving.

If you start your yearly positioning with a blank board, you are less likely to appear at the top of the search results the next time a customer searches for your product.


Learn from previous results to identify internal weaknesses and start planning ahead for overcoming them. Try to find opportunities that you may have missed. Having clear goals is the first step to a successful strategy. It's also needless to say, you have to increase your budget a bit on Black Friday.


"Making money means spending money. Once you determine what you want to accomplish, you need to set your budget. And for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you need to spend more on your advertising efforts to drive traffic and compete."


More about setting a strategy and a budget for this year Black Friday you may read in our partner's latest ebook. Check Finch's eTailer's Get-Redy Guide for Black Friday 2020 to take some extra tips.


The eTailer's Get Ready Guide for Black Friday 2020


2. Create a Virtual Shopping Experience and Make Sure Your Store is Ready


While many consumers will be happy to shop online, others will miss the experience of being in store, with family and friends after Thanksgiving.

To succeed this Black Friday, you may need a degree of outside of the box thinking. For businesses looking to shake things up online in 2020, using technology to drive sales this Black Friday is a MUST.


The increase in traffic might be associated with a stressful downside: it can crash your site. Your website has to cope with the significant boost in traffic as there is nothing worse for shoppers than waiting to website download. Work closely with your web development team to improve site performance and speed.


3. Bet on Free Shipment and In-Store Pickups and Returns

Recent shifts in consumer behavior have forced many eCommerce retailers to rethink their strategies. The upcoming weekend is no exception. How can retailers prepare for the potential surge/dip in Black Friday performance?

Ensure your customer service, operations, and fulfillment capabilities are at effective, and profitable levels. This will help to create return customers.


Offering free shipping is a small, but effective way to build brand loyalty. It can also be a key factor in converting, and retaining customers beyond Black Friday.

Free shipping is a major perk in the eyes of most consumers. However, it is not considered a promotion. An estimated 38% of buyers will not shop in places that do not offer free shipping. Therefore, on days like Black Friday, it is a necessity. 


Most shoppers are more likely to make an e-commerce purchase if they can return the item in a local store. What's more many buyers are likely to use the internet as a tool to find products locally and minimize time spent in stores.  Curb pickup provide near-instant in-store satisfaction with the convenience and efficiency of online shopping.



4. Craft an Exceptional Offer and Apply Discounts


The strategy followed by many is to run a stunning sale on a popular product to attract customers to their store. When your customers are ready for a big discount, chances are they will pick up other products on their way to the checkout.


Most people look for at least a 20 percent discount on the products they buy. You want to be competitive. To stand out, you may consider offering a free gift with your products to spice up your offer.


Sometimes this product serves as a loss leader, with the difference that customers add more to the cart than they would have had without a big discount on the flagship product.


5.  Promote Your Offer with Email Marketing and Social Media Campaigns


Both social media and email marketing can be a great boon to your eCommerce Store.


If you're running ads on Facebook or Instagram, create campaigns that create engagement and can be shared. Remember that not only do you want your ad to be visible, you want it to hit your target market. Pay attention to what hashtags your consumers are using and learn how you can include them in your enhanced posts.

Make sure social media plugins are integrated so that customers can share your offers on their network.


Emails are important and provide a high return on investment. More than 25% of Black Friday sales start with email marketing, according to reports. Prepare them well in advance - create a copy and images for sending. Give yourself time and chance to analyze everything before that big day.

Contact your loyal customers and people who have joined your mailing list and reward their loyalty with special offer.

You can start up a month in advance and send weekly emails. Don't forget about an email the night before Black Friday. Make your network well informed of what discounts you are offering.


Return to top of page or Download The Ultimate Google Merchant Center Handbook


How to Get your Google Shopping Campaigns Ready for Black Friday


1. Clear your feed of errors


In Google Merchant Center, go to your Item issues in the Diagnostics tab. Look for any errors, warnings, and notifications on items in your feed. Try to prioritize solving the errors on all items, so that all your products become eligible for shopping campaigns.


Take a look into 35 Common Merchant Center Errors and Simple Ways to Fix Them to troubleshoot your main errors.


2. Fix issues at a product level


Focus on solving the warnings and notifications for the products that have the best results. Google has enhanced their reporting on Shopping campaigns. Now you can combine a product status report, which shows products that need improvements, alongside a performance report.


For example, you can add Clicks and Conversions data, and decide which of the products with performance issues you need to improve first.

Eventually, you want to have all products in good shape. But with the clock ticking, this allows you to focus your resources on the top 20% performers.


3. Check Impression and Click Share metrics


Impression share is the percentage of impressions a product has received, divided by the number of impressions that product was eligible to receive.


Click share shows the percentage of clicks on a product, relative to the amount of clicks it was eligible to receive. Track Impression Share and Click Share together at product group level for the top performers or high-margin products and:


  • If impression share is high, and click share is low, your products are showing for irrelevant search queries
  • If impression share is low, and click share is high, you should increase the bids to receive more impressions


4. Improve Top Spot Impression Share


Check the Absolute Top Spot Impression Share for your best performing products. 


This metric shows the how many times a product was shown in a top position in the Google Shopping Carousel, against the number of times your product was eligible for top impressions.


A top position refers to the top left spot in the Google Shopping carousel. 


The competition for the Top Impression will likely result in increased bids, so it doesn’t make sense to compete for the top impression on all the products.


5. Take a look at last years data


Look at historic data to see what has worked and what hasn’t. Use the reports to look for reusable keywords, best performers, bid increases, and other performance metrics. 


It is very important that you use these insights to get the most out of your budget.


6. Assess your feed's health


If you don’t know where to get started, there are plenty of areas where improvements can have an immediate impact on the shopping campaign performance. So, before ironing out your feed improvement strategy try to find out:


  • Are your product titles search friendly, and will they draw in clicks?
  • Are you using all the right keywords in the description?
  • Are your prices accurate and updated?


Make sure that the prices in the feed are similar to the ones on the product landing page and there are no 0$ values.


  • Have you categorized your products in detail?

  • Is the data accurate?


Make sure that all out of stock items are handled with exclusion rules, and submit regular feed updates.


7. Prioritize your feed improvements


You’ve made a list of the products that need improvements, and now you’re just realizing that there’s only so much that you can do.


If scalability is a problem, narrow your parameters further. Whilst still focusing on your top 10-20%, focus on the feed improvements that have the biggest impact on your product titles, descriptions, and feed frequency updates.


8. Improve product titles


Making title improvements on Google Shopping can sometimes seem quite challenging. Especially when you don’t see positive results straight away. However, patience is one of the many key’s to effective titles.  


Here are some other quick tips for improving your titles:


  • Create automation rules for titles based on the vertical of each product
  • Try and mimic customer language when writing the titles. The word order matters. ‘’White coat’’ is not necessarily the same as ‘’coat white’'
  • Brand should be included first in the title structure. The only exception is when the brand is frequently searched for. In that case it should be moved to the middle or end of the title






9. Improve your descriptions


Complete descriptions should include additional key information about the products that help attract new traffic.

Optimize your descriptions by using insights from shopping search term reports & keyword research tools. With the insights gathered you can use your new found knowledge to recreate your descriptions. That way, they are more likely to match high traffic search terms.







Data you should include in the product description consists of: brand, product type, size, shape, pattern, texture, material, age range, special features and technical information.


10. Increase the frequency of the feed updates


A feed update every 24 hours has become a best practice for online merchants. For Black Friday, and the holiday season, frequent intraday updates are paramount to making sure you don’t miss out on opportunities.


You can submit intraday updates with the online product inventory update. This should be done for these product data changes: prices, availability, sale price and sale price effective date.


There are multiple types of feeds that you can use in your Google Shopping Campaigns, therefore you should carefully consider which is the most useful for you. 


Return to top of page or Download The Ultimate Google Merchant Center Handbook


Why is 2020 Black Friday Going to Be Different?

Some experts say that Black Friday as we know it cannot exist in a pandemic, and post-pandemic world.


Consumer behavior may change, but purchasing patterns can be maintained


With social distancing being a new normal, it’s hard to imagine buyers wandering side by side on the pavement this year. It's even harder to imagine stores full of excited shoppers.



Over the years, Black Friday has moved to online channels, merging with Cyber ​​Monday for a weekend event. The pandemic is expected to further cement this transition.


While consumers have largely focused on purchasing essentials during the pandemic, it is still predicted that there will be a large interest in clothing and jewelry.


Shoppers may also have an appetite for traditional Black Friday categories such as computers. These discounts will be attractive considering how critical laptops have become, when people around the world work, learn, and interact virtually from home.


An increased amount of shoppers migrated online


Last year, buyers spent $20 billion on Black Friday and $30 billion on Cyber ​​Monday. With the increased use of online stores at the moment, it is likely that 2020 will be a big year for eCommerce.


So what we can expect in 2020?


  • It is expected that up to 30% of global retail sales will be made through digital channels this upcoming holiday season.
  • 41% of Black Friday consumers that usually shop in person will turn to other methods this year. Shoppers don’t plan on spending less for holiday shopping in 2020 than in 2019

Holiday season starts earlier


Some of the largest retailers will begin rolling out Black Friday sales earlier, with the hope of alleviating COVID-19 related issues.


Black Friday may become an extended period, rather than a single day of sales, says Michael Brown, a partner in the consumer practice of Kearney.


“I think we have to really not think about Black Friday and think more about when the launch of the holiday season will begin. I think that has to be pulled up by retailers as early as November 1,”

Michael Brown - partner in the consumer practice of Kearney, 

a global strategy and management consultant.


Prime Day was moved


Amazon moved Prime Day this year, with the hope of helping its merchants. Instead of the usual June event, it took place on October the 13th, and 14th. Last year, Prime Day generated an estimated $7.16 billion in sales last year.


After months of delays Prime Day deals are basically going to run right into Black Friday deals. Black Friday could start as early as October 26th, with early deals running through to mid November, according to reports from Tamebay.


Not only is Amazon putting on its biggest sale of the year, but Walmart and Best Buy have both brought forward their planned November deals to compete.


Most brick and mortar stores are going to be closed


Most brick and mortar stores are going to be closed due to COVID pandemic, with sales moving online. 


There is still great uncertainty in the traditional retail environment. Many stores are now prioritizing online shopping as an alternative, but are still set to make considerably less than they traditionally have done at this time of year.




This Black Friday is undoubtedly going to be unique. As countries try to understand how to safely open businesses, retailers and brands need to adapt their holiday marketing strategies to the latest consumer trends.

As a retailer, it is vital you remain vigilant and focus on your strategy. Planning and adapting will be integral to business successes. New customer needs will create a demand for innovation.

Facing the threat of a pandemic, many companies may focus on defensive measures. But during a period of sales that generates such substantial consumer interest, going on the offensive may actually be the best strategy. That way, you can make the most of the new wave of online opportunity. 


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