It’s no secret. Black Friday is predominantly a transactional event — a season to sell, sell, sell. But at what cost to your brand’s perception?

Retailers that give their own spin to this peak week of shopping are the ones who stand out from the competition. So how can you transform Black Friday into an event that builds customer trust in your brand, on top of strong sales?

We’ve teamed up with an partner, Tudock, to give you expert insights on providing an unforgettable user experience and handling the surge in traffic to your shop.

Focusing on performance and usability, Tudock develops online stores with leading omnichannel solutions. Together, we have over 30 years of experience in building high-quality commerce search platforms that foster lasting customer relationships.

From merchandisers and commerce managers to developers and product owners, here are 9 Black Friday tips for the whole team:

1. Prep your brand story

Any big sales event — Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or summer sales — is an opportunity to build customer loyalty by connecting shoppers to your brand’s core values.

Adopt a ‘See, Think, Do’ strategy to frame your brand storytelling:

  • See - You care about your customers and offer a unique online experience. Make sure customers ‘see’ this in your online shop.
  • Think - Your brand story goes beyond holiday promotions; encourage your customers to ‘think’ deeper about you and your brand.  
  • Do - Drive your shoppers to ‘do’ something: make a purchase, request information, or subscribe to a newsletter. 

Making Black Friday part of your overall communication plan and strategy for the year ensures that customers want to come back for more.

2. Inspire trust & own your Black Friday narrative

Customers look for clear and honest communication when picking and sticking with their favourite brands. It’s an essential part of any successful retailer’s strategy to build digital trust amid growing consumer concern for an ethical handling of their personal information.

As you foster trust, own a different narrative behind Black Friday. Prepare a marketing plan with strong content to back it up: a Black Friday blog post, social media announcement, or newsletter to guide your customers through the experience from start to finish. Why are you a trustworthy, inspiring place to shop?

3. Meet shoppers’ needs with your Search experience

During Black Friday sales last year, brands using Empathy Platform saw an enormous increase in traffic:

And what did people search for?

Our data shows shoppers tend to know exactly what products they want. One of the most searched queries during Black Friday is the specific SKU or product name.

Prep with these key questions:

  • What products are your customers looking for?
  • What does your catalogue look like right now? 
  • How easily can customers explore your product range?

Research, evaluate your findings, and adjust your shop setup. Place your most popular products higher up in the catalogue to ensure that customers find offers easily. Tools like Explain make this a breeze.

4. Follow up with shoppers, your next move is key

Launching a successful Black Friday campaign is only the beginning. Be ready to continue that brand story you created. Take action that ties into your values and strengthens customer trust — showcasing what you stand for. By donating, opening a contest or hosting a giveaway, you bring awareness to your brand and develop a genuine relationship with customers.

Black Friday shouldn’t be a one-off event but a long-lasting business strategy that supports you in connecting with your customers — experiencing a special occasion together, and inspiring them with your story.

Do you create Search & Discovery solutions too?

From our developers to yours, here are backend tips to ensure your clients’ online shops are ready for big sales days…

5. Pinpoint what your client wants 

Communication with the client about increased traffic allows you to perform better stress tests to guarantee optimal performance during every shopping event. 

Understanding your client’s goals and plans of action will also allow you to create a better and more focused strategy:

  • What traffic can the shop normally process with its current setup?
  • What type of holiday deals are they running? Storewide sales or specific deals?
  • What kind of advertising have they planned? 

With these insights, you can tackle your load-testing approaches and prepare for a smooth shopping journey during peak sales days.

6. Perform load-testing and prepare for the worst

Expect the best, prepare for the worst.

Decide on different technical starting points, including on-premise setups, scalable solutions or hybrid options, aligning with your client’s expectations and requirements.

Once you have the technical setup, it’s time to carry out load-testing strategies on your existing staging system. If production breaks, you want that to happen beforehand, not during Black Friday or other major sales.

Use a production mirror environment or a production load test to gain valuable insights and confidence before the actual event:

  • Production mirror environment: Check all networking platform capabilities, such as monitoring and logging, are working correctly without affecting customers.
  • Production load test: Check the website runs smoothly and can handle the estimated amount of traffic and requests, and more.

Aim for a more scalable setup, such as a cloud-based solution, so you can scale on demand and add more resources quickly and efficiently.

7. Spark joy for shoppers with a frictionless journey

Preparing for Black Friday or other peak season sales offers the perfect opportunity to clean up the product catalogue and optimise the search function.

Gift customers a carefree shopping experience by ensuring they can find exactly what they are looking for — and even discover more than they were hoping for.

Take into account these tips to guarantee a frictionless search and discovery journey:

  • Identify top search queries trending in the weeks before the event to prepare your stock and add banners and promoted products. 
  • Examine your product data, ensuring correct spelling and consistency so your catalogue is in line with your customer’s search.
  • Introduce autocorrection and set parameters to solve issues with typos and synonyms.
  • Account for language in your online shop. If you support different languages, consider how linguistic patterns affect search terms.

8. Put Digital Trust at the top of your shop

Digital trust is key to guaranteeing customers choose your brand and come back for more. Transparency drives business growth.

Investing in digital trust means reconsidering cookies and online tracking. Nearly 70% of UK consumers feel these methods are intrusive, and a further 50% of them are changing their online shopping habits to avoid retailers tracking their purchases.

Free up your developers to explore and build ethical, privacy-minded shopping experiences.

9. Be agile: Monitor, observe & learn

Implement a strategy for unexpected issues so you can address problems or mistakes during Black Friday, as well as collect data for your website analytics.

Best practices for your developers:

  • Establish a monitoring plan so you can store metrics. These logs will offer valuable insights for other peak season sales.
  • Double-check your extra measures for big sales days: code, hosting, updates, stress tests, imports, exports and fallbacks.
  • Consider overcommitting resources from the start to handle unexpected traffic. You can also choose a scalable solution to be more flexible and agile.
  • Coordinate with all relevant teams (like search, hosting, dev ops, and devs) so everyone is prepared and aligned.

How can you improve for next year? Let’s chat 

Let us know what goes well for you this Black Friday! And when the dust settles, what do you want to improve in your Search & Discovery? We’re here to help.