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11/27/2013 - Preparing for Black Friday

The following tips from CPN can help store managers and owners ready themselves for the flood of customers they may expect to see.

If there's any one day of the year that retailers have circled on their calendars, it's the Friday following Thanksgiving - better known in the industry as "Black Friday." Given this moniker because stores will often go from operating at an income loss to a gain - moving from the "red" to the "black" - retailers place a lot of emphasis on this shopping day, hoping to encourage as many shoppers as possible to get a head start on their holiday gift giving.

"Black Friday is a huge opportunity for small business owners," said Patrick Hare, digital marketing manager for merchant services company CPN. "Because most people have the day off, and may choose to avoid the crush at big box stores, smaller retailers can take advantage of the official start of the holiday shopping season."

In many circumstances, small retailers can see a great deal of traffic move through their doors, as sales events have a way of encouraging people to shop til' they drop. The following tips from CPN can help store managers and owners ready themselves for the flood of customers they may expect to see.

Make sure inventory levels are sufficiently stocked
One of the most important aspects of preparing for Black Friday is readying inventory. For example, if a particular product is being sold at a deep discount, it's best to have plenty of said item in stock, especially if there was an advertising campaign touting the sale. Otherwise, it may make for some disgruntled customers if they were waiting in line to get into the store and came up empty handed. CPN recommended talking with one's wholesaler to see what can be done in this regard.

Another smart idea is to create a gift card program. Gift certificates are popular with the buying public because it can allow whoever their buying for to purchase whatever they would like. These programs make it easier for retailers as well, as inventory is a non-issue.

While cash is still the primary form in which customers make payment, ATM and debit cards are used more frequently with each passing year because of their convenience. CPN suggested updating these terminals with new software prior to Black Friday so transactions will be faster and more secure.

Businessowners also have to prepare for crowd management and anything that may ensue in the hours leading up to Black Friday sales events. Occasionally, there have been incidents that have led to injuries due to stampedes, resulting in general liability insurance issues for retailers after customers sustain injuries. The National Retail Federation provides a downloadable handbook on how to effectively manage crowds.

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