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Black Friday: Local brands share retail advice for the sales season

While retail trends are multifaceted, the one thing for certain is that online shopping is on an upward trajectory. According to a recent report, in the 12 months to August 2021, Australians spent approximately 30 per cent more than the same time last year at an estimate of $50 billion on online shopping.

This trend provides an enormous opportunity for retailers who reimagine their business and invest in knowing their customers.

As we approach major shopping events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Shopify local merchants share their top tips for ways retailers can maximise growth and make sure they are geared up to deliver what customers want.

Active Truth – Stevie Angel, Co-Founder & Director

Stevie Angel, Co-founder and Director at Active Truth, an activewear brand that celebrates women of all shapes and sizes, says planning early and doing the work to have a big holiday season in the lead up to November is key. 

“Use the time to funnel new customers into your email list and social channels, then educate them on your products, your brand values, and why they should shop with you. Test offers to determine what will work best for Black Friday. And finally, build hype and let your customers know the offer in advance and when it starts. Give them the opportunity to create a wish list and be ready to hit checkout as soon as you go live,” says Stevie.

ChilliBOM – Rodney Sammut, Founder

As we approach the upcoming sales season, Rodney Sammut, Founder of ChilliBOM, an online subscription business, says it is important for online merchants to understand who’s shopping on your site over the peak season, as it may not be your regular customer.

“If people are buying gifts on your site for someone else, are you making it easy for them to choose that gift and giving them the confidence that they are making the right choice?” explains Rodney.

“They may not know the product/service as well as the person they are buying the gift for so make it as easy as possible for them to browse and shop your store so that they have confidence and are making the right choice by purchasing a gift from you.”

Alternative Brewing – Sam Bjelke-Peterson, Co-Founder

Sam Bjelke-Peterson, Co-Founder of online coffee brewing and accessory retailer, Alternative Brewing, says he will be heading into the peak sales season well prepared and well stocked. 

“Every sales season comes with some predictability, we recommend looking over your past few years sales, calculating growth and applying it to this year. With covid boosting online sales, we recommend using this projection for this year as your base line and hold stock based on this number. With world-wide supply chain issues, we believe who has stock wins is our motto for this sales season,” says Sam.

The Studio Trangie – Lottie Rae, Owner

For the owner of Studio Trangie, a collective hub for creative things, Lottie Rae, says that transparency this sales season is of utmost importance.

 “We feel like there has never been a better time (covid) to show your customers who you are and what you are all about. Get in front of the camera, show people behind the scenes, Instagram, Reels, and just expose yourself enough professionally that you can allow your followers to become your friends. After all, everyone wants to support a friend,” she says.

Desky – John Beaver, Co-Founder

For John Beaver, Co-founder of Desky, specialists in minimalist and highly productive office furniture, says retailers can make the most out of the sales season simply by being thoughtful about the potential holiday gift options for people in your niche. 

John says, “Bestsellers make great gifts – create bundles of your bestsellers plus useful accessories. These make wonderful and thoughtful gifts for loved ones, not to mention “treat yourself” gifts that customers will snap up as an end-of-year treat for themselves.”

John also recommends leveraging ‘buy now, pay later’ services such as Afterpay and Zip to cater to different customer needs and preferences. He says, “Some customers are interested in purchasing but feel more comfortable when the purchase is broken up into several monthly payments at no extra cost to them.”

“Many people take advantage of the sale season to buy Christmas gifts in advance – it’s a good time to remind them of that in emails. Create gift suggestions for various budgets and group them in product collection pages that are easy to click on. Finally, create a blog post of gift suggestions and share it on social media. Don’t forget to include gift cards as a convenient and practical gift option.”

Irving & Powell – Victoria McEvoy, Owner & Director

At Irving & Powell, customer experience and service are the key ingredients for success this sales season and year-round. This means anything from handwritten notes to engaging with customers on different platforms.

Victoria McEvoy, Owner and Director, says, “As we are predominantly an online business, it’s really important that our customers feel that they are part of a community and are connected to us as a brand/business. We ensure all our engagements with customers are really personal, from handwritten notes in all our packages to being accessible to them on different platforms for any questions they might have.” 

“I think this approach has been instrumental in our strong, organic business growth. We have an extremely loyal customer base with 20% of our customers returning time and time again to make up 80 per cent of our Ecommerce sales. Our focus is on turning those initial customers into repeat ones because relationships are really important to us.”

Single Use Ain’t Sexy – Josh Howard, CEO and Founder

Josh Howard, CEO and Founder of Single Use Ain’t Sexy, advises other businesses to change things up! Ahead of the key sales season with events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday as well as the Christmas season, it is important for brands to show their creativity and try new things.

Josh says, “Change it up – If your customers and the broader community have seen you marketing in the same way all year, give them something new for the silly season! Entertain them, keep them engaged, introduce elements of newness to your offering and bring them into your world by helping them get into the holiday spirit.”

“The big ideas win – In a crowded market when every brand is yelling, the brands with the best ideas always win in November & December (and all year for that matter). Get your brain trust together for a pre-holiday planning session to execute that big idea before the rush starts.”

“Prepare – It sounds boring, but it could be the difference between winning and losing at the tail end of the year. Be ready, get those Christmas orders packed and the corporate hampers delivered, pre-plan what’s in your bundles, organise BFCM & Christmas creative, lock in those festive collaborations and get your influencer partners ready to go. There’s nothing worse than that late November freak out!”


Read more: Four trends set to reshape online shopping


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Clare Loewenthal

Clare Loewenthal

Clare is an author, business commentator and passionate contributor to Dynamic Business. She was the Founder and Publisher of Dynamic Small Business magazine, which became Australia’s largest small business publication.

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