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How 3 e-commerce brands are preparing for Black Friday

How 3 e-commerce brands are preparing for Black Friday

The holiday shopping season is quickly approaching and many Shopify merchants are wondering what to expect. With a second-wave of COVID-19 threatening to emerge sometime this fall, leading many to prepare for brick and mortar shop closures, it’s clear that business won’t be as usual

But just how unusual will it be, and how can Shopify merchants prepare?

On September 17th, Shopify Plus posed this question to a panel of e-commerce brand leaders who unanimously agreed: things will be very different, but ‘different’ doesn’t need to equal ‘bad’. 

What can the average Shopify merchant learn from how these e-commerce pros are approaching the busiest retail season of the year?


“Do something that’s authentic to your brand… something’s that’s going to stand out on its own.”
- Mackenzie Yeates, Co-founder and Chief Brand Officer, Kotn

Kotn, a premium-yet-affordable apparel essentials retailer, has always approached Black Friday differently. Rather than offering steep discounts, the brand instead chooses to invest 100% of sales profits from Black Friday in building schools in Egypt, where much of their clothing is sustainably manufactured. 

“Going on sale isn’t really part of our ethos,” says Mackenzie, who claims Kotn’s products are as affordable as possible while remaining ethically produced. “Helping our community is though, so we decided long ago to use Black Friday as an opportunity to make an impact, and I encourage other retailers to do the same.” 

If taking a non-traditional approach to Black Friday feels genuine to your brand, give it a shot this season and see how your community responds. 


“It’s not about selling, it’s about storytelling.” 
- Quita Coleman, Fashion director, Sassy Jones

When COVID-19 hit, Sassy Jones eschewed their traditional product-marketing methods and instead focused on what made them unique: the people behind the brand and the people who love the brand.
“We had our CEO in our warehouse packaging boxes and put a camera in there and recorded a timelapse to let people see what was going on behind the scenes,” Quita explains. 

By understanding what their audience needed to see at that time -- a brand they love doing their best to serve their devoted customers -- Sassy Jones was able to build trust during a tumultuous time, and ultimately learned more about what their customers want and need from them going forward. “Customers crave genuine connection with a brand, so we’ll continue to listen to them and cater our marketing towards developing a more intimate and honest relationship with them.”

Rather than leaning on discounts this Black Friday, try giving your customers a peek behind the curtains at how your business operates -- by doubling down on developing customer trust, you’ll be putting in work that continues to benefit your business long after the holiday shopping season ends. 


"Keep it customer-friendly."
- Peter Keller, CEO, Fringe Sport

Selling home gym equipment during a time when folks are forced to stay home may seem like a dream come true. But for Fringe Sport, COVID-19 meant supply chain shortages, delaying international expansion, and preparing for a holiday shopping season without any products to sell. 

In an effort to make the most of this time despite not having their regular inventory, Fringe Sport has chosen to focus their Black Friday efforts on keeping their existing customers as happy as possible. The company has even gone so far as to transfer marketing personnel to customer service in order to ensure everyone is well taken care of. 

“This season, we’re focusing on keeping things customer-friendly -- offering easy refunds, fast shipping, and high-touch customer support,” says Peter. 

If supply chain drought has left your business low on stock, look for ways to make whatever purchases do happen as enjoyable as possible. This way you’ll make a great first impression, build loyalty, and keep them coming back for more. 

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