Over the course of my time with Digital Next, there has been a lot of talk about Black Friday. It has become apparent just how important it is for businesses to prepare for the event. With Digital Next already discussing the many ways in which businesses can benefit from this, it just goes to show that preparation should be well underway.

– Ella Worthington BA (Hons)

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On 23rd November, Black Friday will hit the stores once again. With preparation for the biggest shopping event of the year in full swing, it is important for your business to have a digital marketing strategy put in place.

 

WHAT IS BLACK FRIDAY?

Over the years, Black Friday has become one of the biggest shopping events of the year. Although it originated in the US, the UK have caught on with most UK retailers now taking part. During this time period, retailers offer huge discounts on a wide variety of products in order to persuade consumers to spend as much money as they can.

Each year this shopping-fest seems to get bigger and bigger with consumers spending incredible amounts of money. After all, everyone loves a bargain.

 
As a consequence of this, the UK event has become increasingly focused around the online, making it easier for consumers to compare prices and products in the comfort of their own home. We can see this as internet sales now account for 17% of the retail sector.

 

WHY YOU NEED TO PREPARE

It’s more important than ever for businesses to prepare themselves as online shopping plays a huge role in Black Friday’s mania, with a whopping £1.4 billion being spent in 2017. Large retailers have admitted to preparing up to 12 months in advance.

Black Friday Preparation

As a consequence of this, Black Friday can leave a lasting effect on a business throughout the rest of the year. When a customer visits an online site and has a positive experience, they are likely to return, increasing a business’s audience. This just goes to show how it’s essential for businesses to approach Black Friday with a well thought-out strategy, which takes months of planning and organising.

Retailers see Black Friday as a critical chance to boost their market share, as we see many shops gaining their biggest profits of the year during Black Friday. This just goes to show that as there is so much online traffic throughout this time period, businesses need to make the most out of it.

Here are a few of the many ways in which we can help you prepare for Black Friday:

 

WEB DESIGN AND EXPERIENCE

Having a site that is reliable and easy to use is a major factor to look at due to the influx of traffic on Black Friday. When it was first popularised, websites crashed under the weight of the traffic as consumers rushed to bag the best deals possible. Having the preparation in place means that your website won’t be crashing, thus not losing any business.

There has been a shift recently as mobile devices were used to make 36% of online sales last year, generating more than a billion pounds. Therefore, mobile user experience is just as important as web user experience.

 

EMAIL MARKETING

Although consumers are constantly bombarded with emails from retailers persuading them to take advantage of their latest promotions, Black Friday is a time where they are paying close attention to the sales being sent directly to their inbox. As email drove 18.1% of online sales last year, email marketing is one of the key components to getting the word out there.

black friday sale

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media is one of the biggest driving forces for Black Friday offers. It is important in building hype leading up to Black Friday, giving social media followers a glimpse of the upcoming sales. This encourages consumers to plan their shopping strategy whilst putting your business at the top of their list.

black friday social media

It is important to utilise all social media platforms when thinking about Black Friday as this allows businesses to reach a larger number of audiences.

 

SUMMARY

Black Friday 2018 is right around the corner, so why not save yourself the stress and start preparing now. If you think our services may be useful for you and your business, get in touch today.

 

Magento 2, the highly popular ecommerce platform, has recently released its latest version, Magento 2.2, which brings forth a number of great new features to improve the overall experiences of webstore owners and their customers.

While Magento 2 was initially released back in 2015 as a beta version, there have been a couple of updates released since that have helped to improve functionality and user experience. Following the latest release, Magento users are being urged to migrate their online stores to the updated platform in order to offer a more stable and secure ecommerce environment to run their business. As such, here we take a look at the transition from Magento 1.X to 2.0 to 2.2 to see what all the fuss is about!

Magento

With over 200,000 online stores live on the Internet, Magento accounts for around 29% of the ecommerce market with WordPress’ WooCommerce plugin following closely behind with around 26% of the marker share. Consequently, it should come as no surprise to find that Magento is hugely popular for business owners that sell products online.

In large part, this is due to the advanced out-of-the-box features and capabilities that Magento possesses, as its powerful platform allows for seamless store management and the ability to house thousands of products without compromising on performance. However, given that the Magento platform is almost 10 years old, there are certain aspects that have become outdated over the years which have been resolved in scheduled updates to the core platform. However, updates can only do so much, and after 7 years Magento released the much-awaited 2.0 to revolutionise the online shopping experience.

Magento 2.0

Magento 2.0 is the latest full version of the leading enterprise-level ecommerce platform that’s been overhauled to offer the most user-friendly and scalable solution available. Having taken years to develop and deploy, the Magento team have stripped down and rebuilt the entire system from scratch in order to develop a more dedicated platform for B2C/B2B online sellers. So what are the main features of Magento 2.0?

  • Open & Flexible Architecture – Easier customisation, extensive API integrations and extensions.
  • Engaging Shopping Experiences – All-new checkout that improves conversion rates and customer experiences.
  • Enhanced Business Agility & Productivity – Seamless management and simple user adoption with its intuitive interface and business tools.
  • Scalability & Performance – 50% faster page load times for better experiences and conversion rates, with support for more concurrent updates.
  • Secure Payments – Improved security with out-of-the-box integrations with PayPal, Braintree, Authorize.net, WorldPay and CyberSource.
  • Easier Maintenance & Upgrades – Upgrades and site maintenance is easier than ever for a more future-proof investment.

In the main, Magento 2’s improved performance and host of new features aim to boost conversion rates and business agility, whilst offering unmatched flexibility and customisation options with its open source setup. However, while Magento 2 is a superb advancement on its predecessor, it’s still far from the finished article and newer versions are being rolled out periodically with further improvements and bug fixes.

Magento 2.2

Since the new functionalities and features of Magento 2.2 were presented in a webinar back in June 2017 before being released the following September, many online storeowners have been busy migrating their websites from Magento 1 to Magento 2 as a natural progression to a newer version. Not only that, but running your online store on the most recent updated version of Magento will ensure system security is at its highest and reduce the susceptibility of cyber attacks via known vulnerability exploits. However, once a website has migrated onto Magento 2, it will need to be updated to the new 2.2 version to benefit from the long list of new features available. Far more weighted towards B2B Commerce, Magento 2.2’s new features include the following:

B2B Functionality

  • Company Account Management – B2B merchants can support clients’ accounts in multiple organisational structures and corporate buyers can use self-service tools for account management without a merchant.
  • Quote Engine – Convert a cart to a quote with consummate ease without the need2 to send an order, so the merchant can respond with prices and comments.
  • Credit Purchases for B2B – Credit purchases are now available as a payment option, with adjustable credit control for merchants working with multiple companies.
  • Customisable Catalogues & Prices – Merchants can customise the products, categories and price lists to show different information for different companies.
  • Updated API for simple ERP integrations – Web APIs are available for all new features with a bulk Tier Price API enabling merchants to update large quantities of product prices quickly.

Development Tools

  • Performance Toolkit – Profiles update, faster generation, support for B2B entities and much more.
  • Minimised Core Around Plugins – Makes debugging plugins on the core far easier since less clicks will go through the various flows.
  • Improved Deployment Flow – Configurations can be exported through different environments, with product environments being upgraded in less than 1 minute.

Security Updates

  • Unserialize() Calls Removed – Unserialize() calls have been removed completely except in critical performance code, in order to prevent security vulnerability issues.
  • Upgraded Hashing Algorithm – To increase security for sensitive values.

Other Features

  • Extended Reports – An advanced reporting module provides comprehensive reports with valuable data stored in graphs to illustrate performance.
  • Advanced Fraud Protection – A new integration with Signifyd will provide the opportunity to identify and reject roguish orders with 100% chargeback protection.
  • Improved Indexing – Customers are able to browse and buy in the store while indexing.
  • Technical Stack Updates – Support for PHP 5.6 and Varnish 3 has been dropped, with PHP 7.1, MySQL 5.7, Redis 3.2 and Varnish 5 support will be added with “Grace” and “Saint” by default.

One of the major challenges faced by B2B businesses is converting visitors into customers online, and this is what Magento 2.2 aims to eliminate. By offering a user-friendly method of transforming traditional (offline) businesses into online businesses, Magento 2.2 is now the perfect platform to house and grow both B2B and B2C websites. With a host of new features and improved all-round performance, there’s never been a better time to make the switch to Magento 2.2.