How three businesses are gearing up for Black Friday

Here, three small companies reveal their preparations for what could be the biggest retail day of the year.

Black Friday may be a recent phenomenon, but the late Autumn sales scramble seems to be here to stay. Shoppers are set to splurge £2.31 million per minute on Black Friday deals alone, a 19 per cent increase on 2015 sales, according to a study by

Small businesses are reaping the rewards from this annual event, with research from web hosting service Weebly finding that one of its platform users saw 60 per cent of its yearly sales in just three days.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday represent a fantastic opportunity for businesses and organisations to maximise budgets and make the most of savings across the extended weekend of reductions. Here, we look at how three businesses are preparing for the retail rush.

Thingimijigs, children’s clothing and accessories

Burnley mumpreneur Rachael White started Thingimijigs on eBay from her kitchen table in 2004 with just £200 in stock. Today, the business boasts eight employees, a modern warehouse and annual turnover in excess of £1 million. Black Friday is about much more than just a day of sales, according to White: ‘We first started running Black Friday deals in 2010, selling through eBay’s deals platform to the US where it was already a big event. Because Americans love British brands, we figured that the day was a great opportunity to boost our customer base with consumers who might come back to Thingimijigs again and again. It allowed us to showcase our products and just as importantly our customer service, helping to shift excess stock at the same time.

‘Black Friday preparation begins in January with inventory, and added extras like our social media strategy take careful planning. Consumers now shop from their phones, so our content strategy aims to push deals to customers on the go, with posts timed around the pinch points in a parent’s day. Consumers often buy non-sale items while on the site, but it’s the deals that get them there in the first instance.’

Color-Pro, beauty, home and garden goods

Color-Pro was established in 2011, in Wokingham, Berkshire. The business has an annual turnover of £2 million and employs eight staff. Initially the business was a straight consumer technology company but has expanded its product portfolio in recent years, venturing into beauty, home and garden goods. 2016 will be Color-Pro’s third year of running Black Friday deals and director Jay Bassi says the day has become a staple of the business as grows its customer base, both in the UK and overseas.

‘This year we’re aiming to attract several thousand new subscribers to our weekly newsletter – with huge exposure to come via Color-Pro being featured in eBay’s deals bulletins,’ he says. ‘Obviously we see a surge in sales volume on the day, but more important is that many Black Friday customers turn into repeat buyers, coming back to us again and again throughout the year. The event has allowed us to trial some of our more innovative products to the masses, and we were actually the first eBay seller to stock a range of more affordable home projectors.’

Planning for Black Friday begins in summer, when Bassi starts to think about the products people will want, liaising with suppliers to get the best prices deciding how many extra people the company will employ to cope with demand. ‘It’s all hands on deck throughout the deals period, with everyone mucking in to make sure that all the orders are sent out quickly to customers. Providing top drawer customer service is key, because that’s the magic touch that brings consumers back to Color-Pro.’

ShopTo, range of goods from games consoles to cycling accessories

Now in its 11th year, the Bracknell-based ShopTo employs 40 people and recorded a £42 million turnover in 2015. Chief executive, Igor Cipolletta describes how ShopTo prepares for Black Friday, and its importance to the business: ‘When we first started running Black Friday deals in 2014 it was already a crowded space, especially when it came to games consoles and TVs. By partnering with eBay and getting featured on its deals newsletters, we were able to get more cut through and market ShopTo to its millions of customers.

‘Black Friday has become a big day for us, accounting for 10 per cent of our annual turnover in a single day. It’s become so important that we now employ additional warehouse staff from the local area to handle the extra demand.’

Cipolleta looks for people who are able to work well under high pressure as the orders come rolling in. ‘The IT team also has to work really hard to make sure that our server can handle the demand.

‘It’s crucial for small businesses to understand Black Friday within the context of the UK’s Christmas shopping habits. Every year more consumers are holding fire on their Christmas shopping until Black Friday in the hope they can find the best deals, so it’s vital we’re visible and ready when they begin to shop.’

Further reading on finding and selling to customers

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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