4 Black Friday rookie mistakes for 2021 (and how to avoid them!)


You finally did it. You started your own ecommerce store! 

We bet you’re enjoying being your own boss and selling the products you love — or even made yourself. But as you’re probably finding out, ecommerce is no walk in the park.

There are 12 million eCommerce stores (and growing) and only about 5% of them make over $1000 a year. Hopefully you’re one of the 5%. If not, that’s ok. 

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) 2021 coming up, you have a HUGE opportunity to take part in the biggest online sales event of the year. 

We mean it. BFCM is the Superbowl of ecommerce! 

Time out – let’s look at some of Shopify's numbers from last year: 

  • Merchants in over 175 countries sold $2.9+ billion, up from last year’s $1.8+ billion.
  • Black Friday saw peak sales of $1.5+ million per minute.
  • 69% of sales were made on mobile or tablet.

While these numbers are trending in the right direction, we still don't know what BFCM is going to look like in 2021. Many large retailers like Walmart and Target have placed more emphasis on online sales as a result of the global pandemic. 

Uncertainty aside, here are 4 rookie mistakes to avoid when planning your BFCM strategy so you can make the most out of every sale! 

1. Don't only offer discounts

There's no doubt about it, big discounts (50% off, 75% off etc.) get shoppers to open their wallets. 

However, if your entire strategy revolves around discounting, you might be missing out on other promotions that your competition are cashing-in on. 

Avoid getting in a discount-race to the lowest price with a competitor, and try one of these exciting promos instead. 


BOGO stands for “buy one get one.” It could mean buy one get one free, or buy one get one half off, or even buy two and get one free! 

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 3.57.50 PM                                                            BOGO offer from Bargain Moose

Consumable products like chocolates, candles, and vitamins make excellent BOGO specials. You can imagine how your customers would find value in buying one box of chocolates to get one free, or two scented candles to receive a third. 

Looking to promote and sell a new product? Pair it with an already popular item to start getting it out the door.

It’s also a great way to clear old products or slow-moving inventory. 

But what if you sell something that isn't typically sold in bundles, like a cool alarm clock?

“Buy one alarm clock and get one free” is a tough sell. Unless you really like alarm clocks...

Don't sleep on it. 

With BOGOs you can mix and match products to suit your customers' needs. So you can say: “buy one alarm clock and get a free sleep mask,” or “buy two mugs and get a free bag of coffee.” Combining related products into one offer makes it easier for customer to say yes.

You’re practically doing their Christmas shopping for them! 

Need help planning and managing your Black Friday BOGO specials? Try the Bold Bundles app and watch your average order size increase overnight. 

Free Gift with Purchase

Yay, free! Even a small gift can make the difference between a successful conversion and an abandoned cart. 

It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant; it could be a toy, a hat, or a tote bag. The point is to get shoppers attention and drive them to make an impulse purchase. 

It’s also a great way to just get products out the door. 

Check out these free gift ideas for Black Friday from some of retail's heavy hitters. 

Gifts are a great way to cut through the noise and grab customers’ attention. Once they are on your page, they will be more likely to notice the other specials you have running. 

Set up a free gift with purchase promo using the Bold Motivator or Bold Upsell apps. 

If you are already a Bold Upsell user and are looking to further customize your upsell offers, visit our Bold Upsell CSS Styling Guide. 

Free Shipping

This one seems like a no brainer, but shouldn’t be overlooked.

It doesn’t matter how sweet of a deal you’re offering, if customers notice shipping fees tacked onto their order at checkout, it could cause them to abandon their cart for the next offer in line. 

Still not convinced? Check out these numbers:

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 5.07.30 PM

By removing the shipping barrier, you are inviting customers to come back all weekend (or week) long to make repeat purchases. 

If you can afford to offer free shipping on all orders, you definitely should. If you can't, figure out how much an order needs to be to cover shipping costs, and offer customers free shipping if they spend that amount

This can also help you increase your average order value (AOV)

Use Bold Motivator to display a countdown timer and free shipping on a banner throughout your store. This works great for encouraging customers to add more items to their cart so they can earn free shipping. 

There’s no right and wrong way to pick your promos for BFCM

Whether you’re offering discounts, BOGOs, free shipping, contests, or some out-of-the-box idea that we haven’t even thought of yet, only you can decide which type of promos are sure to get your customers buzzing for Black Friday. 

Now that we’ve looked beyond the discount, let’s turn our attention to one of the biggest pitfalls to avoid this Black Friday.

2. Don't wait too late to launch

There is no such thing as just “Black Friday” anymore. 

Wait, what? Let's unpack this. 

Marketers are starting earlier and earlier every year. It isn’t uncommon to see promotions like “Black Friday Sneak Peek” or “Black Friday Preview” going live the week leading up to BFCM. 

Then there’s "Black Fiveday," (the five days between American Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday), Black Friday held over, Cyber Monday extended, Giving Tuesday — the list goes on.

The point is, eCommerce marketers are coming up with new and creative ways every year to transform Black Friday, which was once a one-day event that people lined up at 5 a.m. for, into literally weeks of online promotions.

So don’t wait until noon on Black Friday to launch. If you do, you will get left in the dust by your competition. Start the week leading up to BFCM, or at the very least, a few days before the big weekend. 

Try running a targeted email campaign with teasers of what they might expect to see, so when the sale goes live, they can’t wait to see what other goodies they will find. 

Or what about a deal-of-the-day offer right before Black Friday like Toys "R" Us did here: 

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 5.12.19 PM

No matter how big, small, general, or niche your eCommerce store is, it is almost always a mistake to wait until the day of Black Friday to launch. 

Looking for a helpful tool to get a head start on planning your BFCM deals and discounts? Check out Bold Discounts.  It lets you schedule sales ahead of time and has functionality for countdown timers on product pages, dynamic deals, and more.  

At this point you probably have a few promo ideas up your sleeve and some useful tools to roll them out this BFCM. 

But will that be enough to beat out the competition? 

Here’s another rookie mistake to avoid: 

3. Don't forget to create urgency


What if we told you that your favourite online store was 75% off, but only for the next hour? You would probably stop reading this blog post pretty quickly to go fill up your own cart.  

The idea of resource scarcity — a product only being available in a limited quantity or for a limited time — is a psychological trigger for shoppers. 

We’ve all seen the “only 1 seat left” or “2 rooms left at this price” on travel booking sites and been tempted to just click the "book" button right then. 

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 5.18.02 PMHotels.com

Telling customers that a product is running low or that they have limited time to buy can really drive customers to make a purchase. 

However, urgency is like using a strong spice — a little goes a long way, and too much can leave a bad taste in your customer’s mouth. 

The key is to understand which tactics are a good fit for your business. 

For example, if you sell hand-made jewelry, a big colourful “DEAL OF THE DAY” countdown clock might seem off-putting to customers who are used to sleeker branding. 

If you are looking for a more subtle approach, try something like “redeem this weekend only” or “deal expires at 11:59 p.m.” 

Here are some other great tips for creating urgency during Black Friday 

Looking to add excitement and urgency to your Black Friday promo? You can do it all with with Bold Discounts. 

4. Don't be too quiet 

We’ve all heard the saying: if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, did it make a sound? 

Similarly, if you launch a Black Friday promo but forget to tell your customers how AWESOME and IRRESISTIBLE it is, is the sale likely to convert? 

Where the answer to the first question is more philosophical, the answer to the second is a resounding no.

Don’t assume your customers will come looking for you. 

Remember, in the weeks leading up to BFCM, shoppers will hear about hundreds of sales, offers, and promotions from your competition. 

You could be running the best sale in the world, but if you aren’t reaching your customers, you might as well be selling in the middle of the woods. 

“Don’t be too quiet” doesn’t mean emailing customers every hour with obnoxious sales pitches and subject lines, causing them to hit the “mark as spam” button before they even see what you’re offering. 

Send targeted emails with thoughtful messaging and compelling offers, and your customers will reward you with site visits and conversions. 

Start playing with send times early to get a feel for the best time to reach your customers. You can also look at their historical engagement rates (if your email service provider allows). 

Check out the absolute best time to send Black Friday emails

Also, don’t forget to use every channel to get your message out there. If you are sending targeted emails, be sure to remind your customers to follow your social media pages. 

Check out these killer retargeting strategies to master in time for Black Friday. 

If they subscribed to your mailing list, chances are they will follow you on Facebook or Instagram. 

For more useful info on planning your email strategy, check out our 7 BFCM email campaigns and how to maximize them

The Countdown to Black Friday has Begun 

We hope you learned from our rookie mistakes and are ready to go out and make this BFCM your most profitable week yet. 

If it’s your first time running a BFCM campaign, good luck! With the right combination of planning, strategy and tools, you should have no problem knocking it out of the park. 

Happy BFCM, and remember to unleash the full power of your store with Bold apps, including Bold Discounts, the number one app for Black Friday. 

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Marshal Fries

Written by Marshal Fries

Marshal Fries is an ecommerce writer and content creator at Bold Commerce and a fantasy sports fanatic.

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