From Red To Black – Black Friday And Cyber Monday Bring Businesses Back

Retailers, shopaholics, and Web surfers unite every year for their trip to mecca: the paradise that awaits is a celebration known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The days commence the frenzy of online and offline shopping that will shift businesses profitability through to Christmas.

Historically the two busiest shopping days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday fall on the Thursday after Thanksgiving and the following Monday, respectively. These two days pack the most punch into retailers’ pockets around the globe, and put the biggest bang for the buck into shoppers’ bags.

Black Friday became known as such because it’s the day brick-and-mortar retailers often go from being unprofitable or “in the red,” to back in the black. Cyber Monday, a technical spillover of Black Friday was named more recently in the 21st century when it was discovered that many hungry virtual shoppers skipped the malls and shopped in the comfort of their own cozy offices, bringing online businesses back to black. In addition, many holiday revelers return to work o n Monday but are inclined to take an extended vacation by shopping online on company time.

A pivotal weekend for e-commerce sites, in recent years Black Friday and Cyber Monday have earned the title of the biggest online spending days in the year. Some will say that Cyber Monday isn’t as profitable as Black Friday, and some will say Black Friday should be called Green Friday; but the proof is in the pennies of virtual cash registers.

Indeed, in 2006 Cyber Monday became the biggest online shopping day on record according to comScore Networks, an e-commerce tracking firm. Cyber-happy shoppers spent $485 million on Cyber Monday in 2006. Likewise, comScore Networks also reports that Black Friday profits last year reached a close $430 million.

In another online market, e-card season is about to flourish, too. As holiday revelers gear up, American Greetings offers a convenient reminder service for sending out Christmas e-cards. Users can set up the service and schedule delivery dates. By tackling this task during other Cyber Monday activities, users can take multi-tasking and organization to a whole new level.

Online retailers generally endorse this crucial shopping season with special promotions that add to the shoppers’ anticipation. Online and offline shoppers can expect awesome price discounts, free shipping, “doorbuster” sales and incentive prizes. Adding to the anticipation, most retailers don’t announce their specials until special Black Friday ads circulate in the Thanksgiving Day newspapers and mail lists online.

Retail trends show that most people are as dedicated to the onslaught of holiday shopping as they are to the actual holiday of Thanksgiving. The potential for increased revenue, brand awareness and holiday sales profitability is endless. Driving the boost in profits in 2007, at least 40% of adults are reporting they plan to do all of their holiday shopping online this year. According to ForeSee Results, an online customer satisfaction and measurement company, online retailers can do two things to guarantee success this cyber-season:

1. Be sure to manage and meet customer expectations. Follow through with online-only discounts and free or discount shopping options. ForeSee’s 2006 studies showed that customers were disappointed last year because they didn’t get the free shipping or price discounts they expected. Research also showed that transactional costs, not product costs are the actual source of dissatisfaction.

2. Be aware of the impact your website has on multichannel operations, i.e. understand the impact that your website has on brand and overall profitability during not only the holiday shopping season, but also on overall sales.

For Black Friday:

  1. Eat plenty of carbs on Thanksgiving. Tryptophan will slow you down on the big day, so pass on the turkey and get a second helping of mashed potatoes.
  2. Pack a lunch. Efficiency is the key. If you need to stop to eat, you may miss out on that hot item that your loved one is dying for.
  3. Call for reinforcement. Send an American Greetings e-card invitation to all your friends to meet up together. Then, dole out your shopping lists together for a “divide and conquer” strategy.
  4. Get a good night’s sleep. If you want to take advantage of the “early bird” deals, then you’ll need to wake up at the crack of dawn and hit the stores.
  5. Make sure you have a full tank of gas. To find the best deals, you may have to drive from store to store and you won’t want to waste precious moments filling up.

For Cyber Monday:

  1. Build hand strength. Get those fingers in shape for the multiple click-thrus, filling out of forms, and shopping comparison you will be undertaking. Do some strength training and schedule a massage for the following day.
  2. Get your list down now. Preferably, this should be in Word format so you can click back and forth between views to get everything accomplished.
  3. Bookmark all your shopping sites now. The less surfing, the less time wasted. Do the research today to save you some time on Cyber Monday. While you’re online, note the animated Christmas e-cards you want to send to friends this season.
  4. If you have to work on Monday, then pack a lunch and use your lunch hour to start shopping.
  5. Use a designated credit card for online shopping only. That way if anything questionable occurs with your account, you can track purchases back to a single card.

Three Biggest Myths That Hold Crafters & Cottage Businesses Back From Being Profitable

There are 3 big myths that hold crafters, designers, and small cottage industries back from stepping up to the plate, realizing their full potential and making a profit. The truth is, all of these myths are centered around fear, doubt and uncertainty. Change is an inevitable part of growth. Take a look at these Myths and see which ones apply to your business:

Myth #1: If I price my products too high people won’t buy them. I keep my prices low to sell more

Truth: You can’t decide what other people will pay for your products. Pricing is an art combining perceived value, workmanship, availability and timing in the marketplace and perhaps actual costs. If you’re lower than everyone else you may encounter lack of sales because your products are considered inferior quality even though they are better than other similar products. I had a client recently who was thinking along these lines and when she raised her prices she not only sold more units but greatly increased her revenues. Ask yourself this question: do you always make purchases based on the lowest price?

Myth # 2: Shipping & Admin work takes so much of my time I don’t have time for creating new products

Truth: Shipping and admin work are tasks that can be easily systematized. You can’t afford not to hire help in doing those things that are not your forte. Rule of thumb here is: Do what only you can do and delegate the rest. You cannot grow your company if you do everything. As the owner you are the visionary – and it is up to you to be working on your business and not in it. For example, if it takes you 6 hours a week to ship and you could hire that out for $72 a week – with that time saved you would then have 24 hours a month to devote to product development, marketing & sales. You are actually losing money by doing it yourself – it is false economy!

Myth #3: It costs too much for marketing, people find me by word of mouth

Truth: The life blood of any product based business is marketing. If you don’t get your name and products in front of the public to let them know you’re in business, you will not have a business for very long. Marketing is what draws prospects in to take a look at your products. It is not enough to open up your website, buy an ad in a magazine or attend a trade show. You have to “work it” over and over again. The truth be told, marketing is what makes your business sink or swim. Marketing makes people aware of your product and they must be aware that you exist in order to buy.

There are many ways to promote your business that are low cost: social media, newsletters, post cards, phone calls, classified ads, special promotions, Blogging, SEO ( search engine optimization) and press releases to name a few. The more often you’re seen the more likely it is that your customers will become familiar with your company. You want them to know, like and trust you because they will then buy your products.

Is Your SEO Strategy Holding Your Business Back?