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Guide To Black Friday For Small Businesses

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November has arrived! This means that the anticipation for the Black Friday weekend is quickly building up and businesses and shoppers alike are getting ready for an abundance of discounts and frenzy at both online and in-store checkouts.

Imported from America, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now part of the British retail calendar. Black Friday falls on Friday 23rd of November 2018 this year and Cyber Monday falls on Monday 26th November, occurring on both the high street and online.

With shoppers on Black Friday alert during November, it’s important for businesses to get involved and to get your website business and in-store business running in tip top condition and operations as smoothly as possible. Small businesses certainly shouldn’t shy away from Black Friday either, it’s time to cash in on the hype by learning a thing or two from our definitive guide below. The guide comes in an easy to follow chapter layout which includes a whole range of external links if you want some further reading, as well as some small business case studies and shopping statistics.

What is Black Friday?

Being an export from the other side of the Atlantic since its beginnings in 1869, Black Friday was first introduced to the UK in 2010 thanks to, since then the annual event has hit our local stores, supermarkets, shopping centres and computer screens with a plethora of discounts and shopping excitement. But where and when did it all start?

Originating in America, the term Black Friday” was spread around the country as a result of retailers spinning the formerly negative concept into what it is known as today. For further history, check out our mini infographic below which outlines the key dates of how Black Friday originated into something so well known. Take a look at the resource links below for some further reading on the history of Black Friday.

Black Friday History: A Timeline


First recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was applied not to holiday shopping but to the crash of the U.S gold market


Macy’s held its first Thanksgiving Day Parade, attracting a crowd of 250,000 and signalling the start of the Christmas shopping season


Police in the city of Philadelphia used the term “Black Friday” to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving


The term “Black Friday” was spread around the country as a result of retailers spinning the formerly negative concept into the bargain-shopping bonanza it has now become


The term “Cyber Monday” was coined by the National Retail Federation 


“Black Friday” arrived in the UK, thanks to e-retailer


Other retailers like John Lewis and Asda started to follow Amazon

Why Small Businesses Should Get Involved

Regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, Black Friday is a pivotal point in the retail calendar for grabbing shopper’s attention and for the big stores to make an impact with their deals and impressive Black Friday marketing.

Black Friday weekend is typically all about those ‘pile them high and sell them cheap’ type of offers which some businesses don’t get involved with because that type of selling doesn’t fit with their brand. That might be the case, but you don’t have to slash your profit margins just to reap the rewards that Black Friday brings.

Small businesses should still get involved in the hype around Black Friday, as there are plenty of key advantages that small businesses have over big businesses at this time of year, and having a more personalised service is one of them. As smaller companies don’t need to appeal to the mass market, they have this opportunity to tailor their offers to a more specific market, providing more personalised offers, as well as a more personalised service.

Take a look at the further reading links below for a better understand of why Black Friday isn’t all about the big stores and supermarkets. 

Small Business Case Studies

As mentioned in the previous chapter, ‘Why Small Businesses Should Get Involved’, there are some key advantages which smaller businesses have over larger businesses when it comes to the marketing opportunities of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

According to an article from The Guardian (referenced in the external link below), it’s just as important for small retail businesses to strategically plan for Black Friday and the Christmas shopping season as it is for big businesses, some case studies can be found for Swag Jewellers and Oliver Sweeney.

This is the first year that we’ve really properly focused on Black Friday at Swag – we want this year to be the benchmark for the future,” says Ferris. We started planning over two months ago and have put thought into better signage. Items on sale will be in a more prominent position.”–

“One of the tricky elements of Black Friday is ensuring it doesn’t wipe out profits for the rest of the Christmas season. Tim Cooper, CEO of men’s footwear company Oliver Sweeney, saw an 100% increase in sales on Black Friday last year. About 35% of the company’s annual sales are made online and the data from this is closely analysed. Cooper says the key to Black Friday success is to use data to create new customers, without sacrificing profit in sales that might have been made anyway.” –

Black Friday Shopping Statistics

The Black Friday weekend is becoming more and more popular as a shopping extravaganza in the UK both offline and online. With Black Friday typically being more known for in-store sales and Cyber Monday typically being more known for online sales, it appears that the two are merging into one and Black Friday is starting to lose its title as the biggest revenue-driver out of the two days.

2016 is set to be the biggest year yet for the Black Friday weekend for the UK, take a look at the mini infographic below which showcases some of the shopping statistics for Black Friday and Cyber Monday from 2014 and 2015 and how its performed. These stats include total revenue, online visits and also looking into retail footfall versus online shopping. There’s also some further reading links, some of which have been used as sources for the below mini infographic.

With the Black Friday phenomenon kicking off in the UK around 2010, the awareness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday has risen considerably. The below graphs show the revenue in millions (£) within the UK for the years of 2014 and 2015.

How-To Optimise Your Online Business For Black Friday

Black Friday fever is fast approaching! To make the most of one the busiest shopping weekend of the year and to take the opportunity to reach out to new and existing customers, you should ensure your online business is running as smoothly as possible.

You don’t necessarily need to impress your customers with the biggest sale out there but you do need to grab their interest and impress them in whatever ways you can. From a visually appealing website, easy navigation and impressive site speed to mobile optimisation, a streamlined check out process and secure online payments, make sure your business is prepared.

Take a look at some of the links below for further reading on tips for preparing your website and small business for Black Friday weekend.

How-To Optimise Your Store Business For Black Friday

Although the term is coined ‘Cyber Monday’ for the Monday following the launch of Black Friday, it’s not just about the online sales. In past years, shoppers would queue up around the block just to make sure they were one of the first into the shop when the opening hour hit. Although this is more likely to be the case for bigger businesses, it’s important to prepare for and expect an influx of shoppers with your small business as well.

From welcoming staff (and plenty of staff on duty for that matter), clear prices, and inviting signage to streamlined checkout processes and product availability, you should be aiming to attract both your existing and regular customers as well as appealing to new customers.

Even if you don’t plan on getting involved in the Black Friday weekend sale discounts, you should still plan to get your business involved, as shoppers are still out and about and your products might just take their fancy. Maybe you could attract them with a brand new product launch, exciting Christmas range or helpful gift guide?

For some further understanding on how you can optimise your store for Black Friday weekend and beyond, check out the links below.

Potential Problems To Be Aware Of

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday being such iconic days in the retail shopping calendar, it’s no wonder that such hype and excitement can also come with its problems and downfalls. These potential problems can be easily avoided though with the correct preparation and research.

With so many transactions expected to take place over one weekend, don’t let your business suffer and ensure preparation and testing has been put into place for site speed, site capacity and even in-store capacity, you might need to think about having a one-in-one-out system ready in case you get an influx of customers. Small businesses should still be prepared, even if you’re not expecting a booming response rate from your Black Friday sales.

As well as careful preparation for your website and transaction processes, security for both online and in-store, as well as briefing your staff on how to deal with certain situations is just as important. The below articles provide some interesting points on Black Friday challenges and how to survive them.

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