How We Compete on Black Friday

We’re smaller than most of our competitors.  Particularly in automotive detailing, Detailed Image is chasing large sites like Autogeek and Proper.  Black Friday is a great microcosm of how we manage to compete with them and rapidly steal market share, despite having a team of only four people and an array of other projects we’re working on.

Below is the newsletter that went out this week to our customers.   We think we have the best sales of anyone in the industry.   This is where all of the hard work and minor efficiency improvements really pay off.

Detailed Image Black Friday Sales

There are three things that are key in my mind:  the planning, the programming, and the back-end.

Mike runs our email promotions.  He handles the planning, product selection, and designs, and then runs everything by the rest of us before going ahead with anything.  He started planning our elaborate holiday promotions all the way back in September and October.  He’s been reading everything there is on the topic.  He studies newsletters from all sorts of e-commerce companies and tracks what types of sales they run, what time of day they send the newsletters, and how frequently they send the newsletters.  First and foremost, his preparation and planning is what put us in position to succeed on Black Friday.   Had we been scrambling at the last minute like in previous years, the potential reach and impact would have been much smaller.  Being organized keeps gives us a leg up on the competition.

When it comes to the programming, I’ve put all sorts of systems in place to make running sales like this a piece of cake, cutting down on stress and potential errors.   While our competitors are manually putting items on sale at midnight and manually refunding shipping charges for certain orders, we’ve got it all automated.  From top to bottom on the newsletter:

  • We have a coupon code system that Mike used to enter the code in the system weeks ago.  He just put in the code, the start date, and the end date .  The rest is done automatically.
  • More recently, I put a sale system in place.  Much like the coupon code system, you just enter in the item id, sale price, and start/end dates and the system takes care of putting the item on sale and displaying a special sale graphic (click to see example).  When the sale ends, the product returns to it’s normal price.
  • I also programmed a system to offer the Free Ground Shipping on orders over $150 and the flat rate $5 on all of the rest.  At the end of the holidays it’ll take two seconds to disable.  In the future, we can put it back in place in seconds.
  • Our Daily Special system will feature a different popular item each day with only a few seconds of work on our part to pick the item.

And after all of the orders come through, we can process and ship them faster than the competition because of our automated shipping system and uber-efficient packing process.

Needless to say, we have high expectations for this weekend.  The proof will most definitely be in the pudding.  We’re expecting to have our largest weekend ever – both in terms of revenue and quantity of orders.  This past Monday we shipped the most orders we’ve ever shipped in a day (73).  Hopefully it’s a record that doesn’t last for long.

6 comments on How We Compete on Black Friday

  1. Leigh says:

    Adam, I’m consistently impressed by what you’re achieving. Your innovative and creative thinking will continue to serve you well.

    On a side note, do you still offer Web templates/site building tools through Faceup? I just downloaded the Faceup Web Marketing book, and clicked on your link to a page about your templates, but it gives me a 404 error.

  2. Adam McFarland says:

    Thanks Leigh.

    Ah, I forgot that link was still in the eBook. We stopped offering the templates, but we have a whole bunch that Mike developed that never saw the light of day. Drop me an email adam [at] adam-mcfarland [dot] net with what you’re looking for. If we have something that matches I’d be happy to give it to you…they’re just collecting dust right now.

  3. nethy says:

    Hey Adam.

    I think you guys have an edge here. You’re new. So a seasonal high is a boost, not an expectation. In contrast the mega-retailers can’t handle a slow high season. They’ve sort of spent it all in advance & they can’t survive without it.

    You’re also coming of age in a sort of recession. That’s another thing that’ll play in your favour, making you hardy. If you can grow your business in winter, imagine what you can do when spring comes.

    Good luck with the shopping season.

  4. Adam McFarland says:

    Thanks Nethy! I never really thought about it that way, but you’re right. We don’t really have the expectation of a huge holiday season since this year is the first year we’ve really had our “ducks in a row”. We bulked up on inventory a little bit, but we haven’t spent the extra money before we’ve made it. If we do better than expected (which so far looks likely) than we’ll be able to knock off a little of our debt or give ourselves an extra bonus, but neither of those is expected.

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