Many critics believe Black Friday won't be as big as past years. That doesn't have to be the case.

It's always bittersweet, but summertime 2015 is almost over. Back to school sales have been in full swing and Halloween is fast approaching.

Halloween tends to kick off one of the most profitable times on a retailer's calendar: the holiday season.

But it seems that the holiday season is starting earlier and earlier every year. This will definitely be true in 2015.

Many critics have claimed that the back to school season as we know it has vanished, which means one thing: the holiday season will definitely be longer than usual. 

Halloween-themed sales are becoming a norm in the retail world. They may fall under the Halloween façade, but they hint at an elongated holiday shopping season. Retailers are advertising sales earlier, and shoppers are heading in earlier as well.

As the holiday season's hype gets stretched, it's safe to say that Black Friday could lose some of its allure.

Discounts and low prices will no longer revolve around one day of the year, so how can you make sure you still exceed last year's sales?

There's the easy way. You could slash prices lower later on in the season, but that will deplete your margins.

You can just save all the sales for Black Friday, but that will lead to lost opportunities throughout the rest of the season.

Let's be honest. Black Friday will still probably garner some attention, but not the same kind it has in years past.

There have already been huge sales this year, such as Amazon's Prime Day, which shattered Black Friday records for the retailer.

But there are plenty of ways you can still entice customers on Black Friday without completely destroying your margins. 

Countdown sales

Take a page from Amazon's holiday playbook and consider implementing a series of offerings for the days leading up to Black Friday.

Each day place a discount on certain items to put your entire product assortment in the spotlight. Save the discounts for the most popular items on Black Friday to capitalize on the day. 

It will be less bizarre for shoppers to see discounts at the beginning of November. The sales should be well received by all types of shoppers, regardless of your vertical.  

By giving each product category one day, you will build a sense of urgency for your customers. 

Take advantage of the giving season

Offering complimentary discounts with the purchase of a gift card is an incredibly easy way to draw customers to your store for Black Friday.

Not only are they receiving a discount for themselves, but they are getting a gift for their friend or coworker.

It's the ultimate one-two punch to draw customers to your store. 

Make it easier on the customer 

If your customer is purchasing a gift for a friend in-store who lives far away and meets a minimum price threshold, offer to ship it for them using your online inventory warehouse and fulfillment centers. Or if they're shopping online, offer free shipping to a friend's address.

It takes a step out of the shopper's gift-giving process and they will appreciate avoiding long post office lines.

Offer coupons for the future

Reward shoppers by offering discounts that will be activated in the future. It will improve loyalty and will offer discounts after the holiday season. Coupon codes or physical coupons are good ways to do this.

That way, you reward the customer for purchasing a gift now by getting them to spend more at your store another time.

It's like they're hitting two birds with one stone and they'll be sure to return to your store once the holiday rush is over.

In conclusion

Just because the holiday season is getting longer doesn't mean that Black Friday has to lose its importance for retailers or shoppers.

There are plenty of other options, aside from drastic price cuts, and most of them will actually increase average order value. 

By attracting shoppers with tactics beyond simple price cuts, you can help differentiate your business from your competitors.

You aren't always going to have the lowest price and that's okay. When you make up for not having the lowest price with creative coupons and shipping policies, you can still win the shopper's attention. 

Ari Shpanya

Published 9 September, 2015 by Ari Shpanya

Ari is the co-founder of HomeShare and Zent , Graduate of the GSB Stanford Ignite program, and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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