How to Get a Competitive Edge on Black Friday
Insights from Gorilla Wear & SpeedSize
Recorded September 28 2023
In the recent webinar, “How to Get a Competitive Edge on Black Friday”, Stas Levitan, the Head of Sales at SpeedSize, sat down with Rogier Ikink and Colin Vleerbos from the globally recognized fitness apparel brand, Gorilla Wear. The discussion revolved around the strategies and preparations ecommerce marketers need to consider for Black Friday.
Gorilla Wear, having been in the business for over 40 years, shared valuable insights on how they tackle the most important sales event of the year. Among the points discussed, the most important were:
- Early Preparation: Start months in advance. Gorilla Wear emphasized on getting customers’ attention early, with mechanisms like Black Friday landing pages and promotional flyers to generate buzz.
- Clear Messaging: The message for Black Friday should be concise and focused. Amid the clutter of discounts and promotions, it’s crucial to communicate the most attractive deal plainly to the customer.
- Visual Experience: Ecommerce heavily depends on the quality of visual content. Investing in efficient compression tools, like SpeedSize, ensures that high-quality images load quickly, optimizing user experience.
- Customer-centric Promotions: Rather than just pushing stock that companies want to clear out, promotions should also include bestsellers. This approach not only boosts sales but also strengthens brand loyalty.
- Leveraging Technology: Modern technologies, especially AI, can assist in content optimization and enhance the user experience. However, it’s essential to discern which tech solutions genuinely benefit your business.
- Continuous Competitor Analysis: It’s vital to constantly observe competitors and learn from their strategies. This helps in refining one’s own strategies and staying ahead of the curve.
See the Full Transcript below.
Rogier Ikink shares his customer-centric strategy for creating Black Friday deals
1. Begin preparations for Black Friday months in advance
2. Focus on clear, customer-centric messaging
3. Optimize the website's visual experience, ensuring fast load times without compromising image quality.
>> See our Case Study to understand how they did it.
4. Offer genuine deals on popular products, not just overstocked items
5. Embrace and integrate technology effectively
6. Constantly monitor competitors to stay on top
Stas: Let’s kick this off guys let me just quickly introduce myself my name is Stas I’m the Head of Sales here at SpeedSize. For those of the attendees who have never heard about us, SpeedSize is the industry’s first alternative to the conventional compression and delivery tools and we deliver the superior media media experience to thousands of customers worldwide, both large and small. I’m joined here today with Rogier and Colin from Gorilla Wear, like you already probably guessed, which is a well-known brand that represents strength and dedication in fitness apparel. Welcome guys thank you for joining. Would you like to quickly introduce yourselves?
Colin: Yes thank you – hi everyone my name is Colin I’m 25 years old I’m from the Netherlands. I’ve been working at Gorilla Wear for over three years as a Senior Marketeer as you just mentioned Gorilla Wear is a sportswear brand. We sell sportswear, shoes and accessories for fitness and bodybuilding. We are an e-commerce brand which operates internationally. We were founded in 1982 so we’re in the business for over 40 years and I’m excited to be here today. Hopefully I can give you some insights and tips to maximize your Black Friday campaign.
Rogier: My name is Roger I’m a colleague of Colin. In my role at Gorilla Wear, I’m responsible for all the revenue and profit from the B2C part. Colin and I run together the Marketing team. We’re focusing on topics like branding that’s very important to us, Performance Marketing, Online Marketplace was a true game changer, conversion optimization and of course creating marketing plans such as Black Friday, and a lot more but those are the main topics. As Colin said, we have various online channels – we have B2B web shops, B2C web shops, online marketplaces… but I believe during this webinar we mostly or only will discuss the efforts we have done for our B2C web shops I think that’s the most interesting, yeah just to clarify, and I’ve been working for the company for five years.
Stas: Excellent sounds great. Look you know I was very excited to meet you, obviously you know we worked together for a while, but I personally was very excited to meet you because you know not every day I get the opportunity to speak with the customers so closely and also I was very curious to learn about how a combination of a strong brand strategies, such as some of those that we’re going to learn here today, and the technology – cutting-edge advanced technology – such as SpeedSize, can really make a difference for online business. Even though the business has been around for a while, but things are moving forward and, you know, a strong brand has to be supported by these new technologies. So again welcome guys and let’s just dive right in.
The first question or the first topic I wanted to address with you was around the preparation for Black Friday, because well everyone knows Black Friday is an event that many companies prepare for, but I also know that everyone kind of views it differently and how they prepare for it is different, but I also know that if you don’t prepare correctly or if you prepare and you don’t have clear goals, how you achieve this goals what you what you want to get out of this event then things can go sideways, or not necessarily sideways – you may not achieve your maximum potential from this event, so what I wanted to ask you guys is if you could please share, give us like a sneak peek into how you’re preparing for Black Friday from every perspective. Can you share some of your plans?
Rogier: Yeah sure, we have Black Friday done now as a team but also as a brand for several years right now, we’ve tried out various things. Last Black Friday we had, for example, 50 more orders and 29 times more sales compared to an average day in November. We found out that, and that’s also what we do, we grab the attention of our loyal customer base very soon so we create a whole plan – not only for Black Friday, but also to grab their attention sooner, because Black Friday is getting bigger and bigger, competition is getting bigger and bigger, and getting their attention, creating awareness around your event, creating the buzz… we think that it’s really important to do and to be aware of, and to prepare as soon as possible. So for example we have a Black Friday landing page already live right now. Every order right now gets a flyer inside creating awareness about our Black Friday campaign. What’s also very important, because e-commerce gives us so much opportunities, we ourselves sometimes get distracted by all the opportunities, but at the end it’s peak season you have to peak, so once the customer is at your website and once you have their attention your message should be very clear. But also your website performance should be outstanding and very fast and very clear because everybody wants the attention of the customer. So we’re also in a plan of really focusing on the customer experience because once you have their attention, once you have them, you really need to fulfill their attention and fulfill the potential you have and not get distracted by all e-commerce opportunities and things you can do. Just to care for and focus on the customer experience. That’s the two main pillars of our plans.
Stas: You know what, there something interesting in what just said about about having a clear message, what exactly do you mean?
Rogier: Okay, with Black Friday and the competition growing and the event in general is growing, you see that our competitors… we see other brands and in general, people do crazy things to get customers to their website. Very low prices, every day another promotion – they do a lot of crazy things to grab their attention. But we have noticed that your main deal should be very good it should be a deal you also want to have yourselves when shopping. Be very clear with that message, that should be the main communication. We had a year where we flipped it: We had our main event, and our main Sales Event and our main sales discount, but we made other actions (just to grab the attention) more important. We have not really seen that that helped us in generating more revenue. Then the other year, we made it simpler, we made it clearer and we all focused on our main discount, and that worked for us in terms of revenue. Because the customer has so much to see, they just want a good deal they just want a good deal – that’s the most important. So we made that the main thing in all communication – the main Sales Event.
Stas: This is super interesting, you know. Two main takeaways that I take from it is basically (1) be prepared ahead of time, months in advance really. Like you said, your landing page is already there, already supporting the event. But also (2) having a focus and having a really clear message about what it is that you want to promote.
Rogier: That’s totally true.
Stas: Interesting. In this whole big puzzle that you’re dealing with, can you share some of the tips for a great visual experience for the website? Obviously we all know that what you sell online is not the products, it’s the images. So can you tell me bit more about how you see it and what does it mean to be prepared, in terms of visual experience for Black Friday?
Colin: Our web shop is very important because we are an e-commerce brand so that’s the main point where the customers go. So we were not only preparing our promotion for Black Friday, but we’re also preparing our web shop. We looked for areas to improve, we did some research online, we made some analysis, we put reports together, and we were looking for areas for improvement. We noticed that in the last year we saw some lag in loading speed of pages, mainly due to file size of content like product images and banners and videos, because our system was compressing it in the wrong size. So we went to look for solutions and in our research we came across SpeedSize. We made some calls, we looked at the alternatives and then we [decided] we want to work together. Since we are working together, all our file sizes are very low, the loading speed has improved, and the quality of the images is also better. So that’s just one small thing that we optimized on our web shop, but it has a huge impact. Besides that we also look for other things to improve and then we put in our preparation for Black Friday. Now we made like some sort of checklist and we’re just going point-by-point and working it all out.
Stas: yeah makes sense
Rogier: If I may add something to it. So over the years now that we did our promotion, we learned from what we did. We let us get inspired by what we see. Of course we look at the internet to see what others are doing. We let it inspire us, making it our own thing, trying things out. Because we are our target group. The marketing team – Colin and I – you see, we are the target group. We can make a good estimate what people want from us, what they want to see, and what they think is a good deal. We tried out several things. Our graphics team is with us for a couple of years now so they have their own vision on how to do things. They can now go all out, they can go all out, can do whatever they want – we do not have to make compromises when it comes to customer experience, and it’s great. Because the banners we have right now is high quality, it’s a lot of MB’s (megabytes), but we do not have to compromise on user experience – the website runs smoothly for our customers, so that’s a great thing.
Stas: What I’m hearing guys is that you looked at it kind of holistically, so as part of a bigger picture, and you said ‘we want to be as ready as possible’ and one of these things is media, and you invested in it. Another thing which is very interesting that I’m hearing is that companies should probably hire people who are their target audience. Which is what you’re saying, that you are the target audience of the company so you understand your customer really well.
Rogier: Yeah, it’s easier to test out things if you know for yourself you can estimate – ‘okay would I like this’, ‘would I buy this’, ‘would I think this is a good deal’, ‘do I like the product’, ‘would I buy it if it is discounted’. You can better – how do you say – confirm with the target audience, and it helps us really test things out very fast. Also it gives us, when we look at other brands, we can very fast say ‘okay this is a good idea’ or ‘that maybe is not a good idea’ to us. So yeah I would always recommend it.
Stas: You know, I think my last question on this point is – do you guys expect… well actually two questions I have on this point. So first, I was always curious about how does it happen that a company decides that a major area for improvement would be its media? Because you were using compression for a long time, since you were born, because that was basically the only alternative out there. So, what made you think that at this point, that you had to do that? and that if you wouldn’t be doing it, the cost of doing nothing would be hard to bear?
Rogier: Colin, do you want to take this one or me?
Colin: I will answer it. We are constantly looking for ways to optimize our web shop. It’s not like a one time thing, it’s an ongoing process. But this year we looked at things we wanted to optimize, especially for Black Friday. So we made a bigger plan. We looked at the whole web shop and we made like a report – these are the things we want to improve. Then we did some analysis and media was every time the biggest factor in terms of loading speed, in terms of compression. Every time we did the analysis, it was media media media. So then we were like, okay – that’s the first thing we want to optimize, according to our reports. That’s why we came to the solution of SpeedSize because that was in our eyes the best solution at this point.
Rogier: Also if I may add – our team is also improving and is also upgrading and getting new stuff to [photoshoot] things with and we invest in models. But we also know for ourselves that attention time span is really short and it’s getting shorter and shorter and shorter and shorter. Reels are very good right now, but you have to tell a story in four seconds. If you do not do it in four seconds, then your target audience gets away from you. So with what Colin said, that media constantly pops up [as an issue] and our quality gets higher, and we also know that the time span of a customer is getting shorter. It was just one plus one plus one – we needed to do something about it.
Stas: Yeah it’s very interesting what you guys are saying, because I think this is, well this is very forward-looking thinking and very professional, it sounds. Because while there’s a major area for improvement, but we see across the board many companies still invest a lot of effort in producing great media. They invest a lot of effort and resources in it, but then they basically ruin it by compression because there’s no other alternative. I think it was the reason… What I’m taking from it is that, the reason that you are managing to stay on the edge of innovation and the edge of technology is because you are very professional and you’re looking into all these details and trying to constantly improve [them].
Rogier: Exactly, and what was also in our advantage, I believe, to be honest, we have quite a hard EOP system to create connections with commercial parties like SpeedSize. But Colin said ‘okay, here I think we have here a big opportunity’, because it only takes a few hours to integrate [SpeedSize] and then our whole website, literally our complete website, the media has been updated. Then we had a little bit of that WOW effect. So a few hours, and our complete website is updated. Normally it will take us maybe months on our team. So that was really a little bit, and we said ‘wow okay – if we can do this, we can get a very big step and very short time’. We love to do big steps in short times – we love that kind of thing.
Stas: Cool, so great to hear that. Do you guys expect that it will affect your bottom line this year?
Rogier: It is what we are in for yeah
Colin: I will answer it. We do expect it but it’s like you just mentioned, it’s like a part of a bigger whole. We made a huge plan, we’re working it one thing at a time, with Black Friday in mind. We want to optimize everything before Black Friday because that’s the the most important period of our year. So it’s hard to say that one thing will lead to the most revenue, but I think it’s an important part.
Stas: Yeah makes sense, absolutely. Thank you very much guys – it’s very insightful. Look, I know that e-commerce is… everything is about staying on top of the competition, really, and the competitors are not sleeping. They are going after you and there are lots of them that are new up-and-comers. So I’m sure that throughout the years you’ve developed ways of how you look at the competitors, how you analyze them, how you learn things from them, and how you improve, basically based on this kind of analysis. Can you share with us a couple of insights into what do you do to stay on top of the competition?
Colin: So yeah, like you mentioned, there’s a lot of competition, especially in Q4 and Black Friday. I think what makes us stand out is that we have a large customer base with loyal customers, because we are a brand that’s already in the business for already 40 years. We have a lot of data that we store, that we look at. We also save data of competitors, so we look at what they are doing during Black Friday. We all save it and then in our preparation for next year, we’re going to look – ‘all right, this competitor did this’. Then we can analyze it and look what things we can implement in our own strategies. Especially during Black Friday, what I think makes a stand out is that we’re not only looking at the promotion – like, okay, we have this discount, but we look very broadly – we look to optimize processes like returns, or our warehouse has to run smoothly, or B2B promotion is way in advance so we can defy the rush, uh we’re looking for ways to optimize our web shop. So it’s not just about the promotion that you’re doing, it’s about – it’s a bigger whole that you want to look at and prepare well in advance.
Rogier: yeah if I may add a small thing – we just had it, about how Colin and I are the target group, so we can decide what is a great deal. But also – when you create deals, when you create Black Friday discounts, do not only create discounts that help you as an organization. Do not only create discounts on articles you want to remove from out of your warehouse. Our perception on that is – we always do site-wide, on the complete web shop and we also create deals on items that are bestselling, that are bestsellers, that they generate, for example, 50% of the revenue. We never do it in a sale, but with Black Friday we do. Do not be afraid – I’m speaking for Gorilla Wear – do not have to be afraid that the next month nobody is ordering that item anymore. It’s great for your brand awareness, it’s great for your brand awareness because people come to your website who will never come to your web shop, so don’t be afraid to give really great deals. And do not only give deals that help you as a company, but also give deals that are great for the customer.
Stas: Oh wow I think it’s a major takeaway what you’re saying right now. Do you think that a lot of companies share this approach? or is this unique to you guys?
Rogier: I’m not sure if it’s really unique to us we also see the competitors. But I can believe that some people are thinking more – well, it’s also important but, what Colin said, think not only about revenue. But we, this year, we also take it to next step, to think about profit. But you also have to think of the customer and give them great deals. Not only focusing on items with high stock – ‘I want to get it removed from my warehouse’ – not only. Focus on items that are bestselling, that are performing very well also, those items are for the customer very interesting if they have an extra discount. I’m not saying it’s unique to us, but I’m saying if you forget it then you are not getting ahead of competition.
Stas: So it sounds like, basically what you’re saying, is that if you always keep your customer in mind, on top of your mind, then you know whatever goal you set – whether it’s to become profitable or make more sales – it’s achievable, as long as you do that.
It’s really cool guys.
You know, I’ve heard that you mentioned that you grew your sales 29x or so in the last year, if I’m not mistaken. How did you do that? Sounds crazy
Rogier: Yeah maybe we repeat some things right now, but I think it’s not bad. Foremost, we listen very good to the customer, as we said, also we learned from the previous year. When we make a deal – this was also one of the takeaways we had this year – when you make a deal, make sure that the people that are buying on the first day of your promotion get the best deal. We see a lot of brands giving 10% extra on the very last day, but you should be happy with the customers that bought throughout the week. We got a lot of negative reviews from it, we also tried it, but we now made a plan to give the customers on the first day buying also the best deal we have for the complete Black Friday period.
Like I said, think of a deal that’s also good for the customer. Once you have that, we really recommend to start literally tomorrow with advertising that deal. Advertising that deal not necessarily everywhere, but you can create a newsletter, you can create a landing page. We as company do not have to be afraid that people do not buy anymore when we send email, like, ‘oh people will not buy anymore because they know now [to wait for] Black Friday’. No, for us it’s not that way. Advertise advertise advertise about your Black Friday. I think that’s very important.
What worked for us – we just have one promotion. We can say it’s 21% up to 71%. Why the 1%? Just make it a little bit different so you can get attention of the customer, and
promote with that. We think that’s that’s the most important.
Stas: Well you didn’t repeat yourself – well you did, but you you gave a very cool actionable insight about what to do with and how to structure the discounts. Sounds really cool.
Where does the technology come in? Because just like in the same way that you’re staying on top of the competition because of your awareness, your technology and because you understand your clients, so how do you leverage new technologies? and do you think it’s even important for a business of your scale to do that?
Colin: Yeah I think it’s important because, just like optimizing your web shop, looking for trends and technologies is an ongoing process. If you start early and hop on the trend early, you can stay ahead of your competition, or you don’t get behind. So that’s what we do of course. We don’t look on a daily basis for new trends or things, but we’re constantly looking when we make preparations for promotions… What can we implement, what can we change. We also have contact with our partners – what are some updates or things we can implement and improve in our marketing.
Stas: What are some of the areas of focus where you think that technology is going to be helping you now, going forward? Is there something like that? I don’t know, metaverse, VR or something?
Colin: So yeah, AI is of course is very big right now. There are a lot of AI solutions for content, for visuals. There are a lot of things you can implement, but you have to decide which one is best for your brand, which suits your your business, your budget and if it even is necessary. Because some things, they may be nice to have, but doesn’t really make a change. That’s something you have to think about. But that’s an ongoing process.
Stas: How do you know if something does make a change or not? do you like try it out?
Colin: You can try it out and measure it and see if it works, if it makes a change, if it’s worth the money that you’re investing in it. But also we work with a lot of partners, like SpeedSize. We have a lot of co-workers inhouse with a lot of knowledge, but sometimes it’s easier to have a partner that’s specialized in one area. So we have contact with them and they also can help make a decision or advise in some things.
Stas: so you’re relying on technology partners and to help you figure out what actually is working, what’s not, what is more useful and what’s less. That makes sense.
Okay, guys, I think we’ve covered a lot, and it was a pretty short time, but I’ve heard a lot of interesting things. I’m sure the audience did too – let’s see if anyone has any questions. Let me just ask our marketing manager to send me… Okay, one question I see coming. Alright, the question is about AB testing – so do you leverage the higher traffic to get results?
Colin: What exactly do you mean?
Stas: yeah well I was reading it out loud, I was uh also trying to understand it so whoever wrote it maybe you can rephrase it. So – AB testing, do you leverage the higher traffic to get faster results?
Colin: So in terms of AB testing, we do it with some of our channels to gain more traffic for example in our email marketing we do AB testing with buttons, with banners, with sentences. We are testing with our advertising – we use different banners, different advertising, and also on our web shop we we change things, we measure to see what works best.
Stas: And during the Black Friday, do you still test? Like during this period, let’s say from now until the end of November, or is it too risky?
Rogier: Yeah we do. What we do is we test out new things. We have tested out new things. Literally every Black Friday every year we test out new things: another message, other promotions, making smaller promotions become more important than a big promotion. But now I believe we have come to a point, as we discussed in the webinar here, we’ve come to a point that we know what works and we also know the 90% that does not work. We only test with the last 10%. For example, we have worldwide brand – do translations work? does it work if you split male to female? We see small results, but like we said, we are more of the small-step-big-result. So only when we see that then we really leverage it. So yeah. We test small things out.
Colin: Yeah and in addition to that, like you said Stas, we are testing things out in preparation towards Black Friday. We test what works best and then during Black Friday of course we use the the best methods and the best things, but during Black Friday we don’t really AB test, for example with popups or banners or something like that. During Black Friday, all we want is to convert a lot – go, go, go.
Stas: Absolutely. It’s the money time, right, so it makes sense to – what we discussed earlier – to prepare in advance and then execute during this time.
We have a couple of other questions but I want to be respectful of everyone’s time so I will actually send them to you by email.
Guys, thank you so much for your insights, thank you for your time.
I wanted to let everyone know that you should keep an eye on your inbox because we will be sending you a Case Study and a checklist of How to Prepare for Black Friday.
So combining the right strategy and website performance and a new technology such as SpeedSize, you can definitely achieve the success – maybe not as great as Gorilla Wear, but definitely you can get there. So everyone thank you again – good luck and let’s catch up soon!