Consumers—get ready to get your shop on, and retailers—get ready for the chaos. The most epic shopping day of the entire year, Black Friday, is upon us this week. Notably slated for the Friday after Thanksgiving in the US, Black Friday is otherwise known as the first day of the traditional Christmas shopping season, during which crowds of consumers are drawn to special offers by retailers—usually big box retailers.

Whether you like it or not, Black Friday is here to stay, and although it’s typically seen as a “big box retailer” promotion, I personally think smaller stores can benefit too. Take advantage of this annual promotion and start driving your own incentives and promotions to get as much out of this shopping day as you put in all year.

Whether you are an independent retailer, a small store owner or you manage a group of smaller stores, there are a few tactics you can put in place to participate in Black Friday. To make it easy for you, I’ve listed a few ideas for you here. Implement a couple of these Black Friday specials into your holiday plan, and you’ll wonder why you hadn’t before.

8 Ideas for Small Retailers to Participate in Black Friday

  1. Open Early, Stay Late

    Traditionally, the big box stores have been known to open as early as 4am, or even 12am the night before! Now, I don’t suggest this; however, I do suggest you extend your store hours for this one day—or maybe the entire shopping weekend. You want to get the biggest bang for your wholesale buck, so extending your hours will ensure shoppers have enough time to stop by your store and get what they need—from you.

  2. Door Discounts

    What the big box stores like to call “doorbusters” you can call “door discounts”. A doorbuster is a special discount price available for a limited period, typically during early-hours shopping. Now, since you more-than-likely will not be opening at 4am, you may want to offer a door discount when customers come in—whatever time they come in. I suggest, have a member of your staff greet customers when they come in and offer them to “draw” a special discount from a bowl. Then, offer their special discount to them on anything in the store! Make it like a game, to see which customers get the best deals. It will not only be fun for them, but it will benefit their bottom dollar.

  3. Giveaways & Door Prizes

    If you don’t like the idea of “door discounts,” then offer your customers a fun chance to win giveaways and door prizes while visiting your store. Have them put their business card in a bowl to win a prize, have them give you their name and email address to enter a drawing, or (similar to door discounts) have them “draw” from a bowl to win a fun giveaway. Again, make it like a game and they will enjoy it. Get them engaged with your staff and your store, and they will remember the experience they had there and want to come back for more.

  4. Gift with Purchase

    One great incentive I’ve found is to offer a free gift with purchase. Maybe put a spending limit on it to where they must spend $XX (amount of dollars) to get the free gift. This will drive your average sale amount up while also giving the customer a fun freebie. As for the giveaways, find some things in your store that you know they will like and that don’t cost (wholesale cost) you more than $5-10. In the end, this will be roughly the same as giving them 10% off their purchase.

    For example, spend $50 and get this free holiday candle. Or, spend $100 and get this free holiday tote bag. Your “freebie” doesn’t have to be holiday-inspired, just something of value they would want to receive free with their purchase.

  5. Sale on Everything

    One easy, yet still effective, Black Friday promotion is to just offer your entire store at 15%, 20% or even 25% off. This is simple to do, and simple to promote.

  6. Buy X, Get X

    If you would prefer to get detailed about your Black Friday promotions and offer the customer more creative options or enticing offers, then you could run several “gift with purchase” specials—however, it is more like “purchase X and you get X”. You could do this on a variety of items.

    For example, “purchase 3 candles and get 1 candle free”. Or, “purchase a lamp and get a free pack of light bulbs”. The key is that when they select and purchase one item, offer them a freebie of a similar & complementary item—something that will go with and complete their purchase.

  7. Use Your Email List

    We don’t collect email addresses for no reason anymore. Use those email addresses to announce things like your Black Friday specials. There’s one thing I know about small businesses—and it’s that they don’t use email blasts enough. As busy individuals and business owners, we tend to get carried away with our day-to-day activities, and we end up neglecting the one thing that could be making us the most money—our list!

    Your email address list is full of customers just waiting to hear from you; they are waiting to hear when you have upcoming events or in-store specials just so they can spend their hard-earned money on the inventory you have, which they want. Do them a favor and tell them about your upcoming sales—including Black Friday. Send out an email blast announcing your Black Friday specials. Better yet, send it out ahead of time and call it a “Sneak Peek,” so they know what to look forward to. Then, send out another email blast on the morning of Black Friday, announcing it again as a friendly reminder.

  8. Snacks & Drinks

    If all else fails, the least you could do is offer shoppers a glass of champagne. This will definitely get them in the mood to shop. And, if you really want to impress them—have a server (or three) walk around with hors d’oeuvres so they can grab a quick bite. After all, Black Friday is exhausting. The goal is to keep them in your store as long as possible, so they buy more.

There are numerous, effective Black Friday promotions and incentives. My suggestion is to just pick a few of them and run with it. At the end of the day, you’re likely not going to sell the entire store out, but you MAY have a good chance of having a great sales day. Like any other marketing initiative, it’s trial and error. So, test various promotions from year to year and see what works best for your store.

Happy Shopping! And, Happy Black Friday!