Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Using Data to Set the Right Discounts and Stock the Right Products

As the leaves turn and autumn sets in, retailers brace themselves for the year’s most significant shopping events: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These days aren’t just about slashing prices; they’re about strategic decisions, discerning customer demands, and leveraging data to ensure both profit and customer satisfaction.

Here’s a guide to using data predictions for these blockbuster days.


Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) have transcended their traditional bounds, evolving from single-day sales frenzies to extended retail extravaganzas. These shopping holidays’ success lies not just in offering discounts but in precision—knowing what to discount and how much stock to have on hand.

Harness Historical Data

Historical data acts as a guiding compass, paving the path for an informed and impactful strategy. Consider this: you wouldn’t plan a journey without looking at previous routes taken, assessing the challenges and successes experienced. Similarly, tapping into the annals of previous BFCM sales provides a roadmap, setting the stage for predictions and actionable insights.

  • Previous BFCM Sales Data: It’s essential to scrutinize the minutiae of past events. Begin by analyzing not just the gross sales but also specific products and categories that made a mark. Were electronics the leading category last year, or did apparel steal the show?Delve deeper: Within these categories, which brands or models shone the brightest? For instance, did a specific smartphone model outperform others? Were ankle boots more popular than knee-high ones? Parsing this detailed data can offer a granular understanding of customer preferences.
  • Discounting Patterns: The art of discounting is nuanced. Broad strokes won’t do; instead, retailers must be savvy and strategic. Examine the discount thresholds from past years to discern patterns. Which discounts resulted in just a mild uptick in sales, and which ones caused a sales frenzy? Surprisingly, deeper discounts don’t always equate to better sales. Perhaps a 20% discount drove more volume than a 30% one due to perceived value. Or maybe certain products have a discount sweet spot, beyond which diminishing returns set in. This analysis is invaluable in setting this year’s discounts.
  • Customer Feedback: While numerical sales data is gold, do not neglect qualitative insights. Revisit customer feedback from previous BFCMs. Were there comments about wanting deeper discounts on specific products? Were some discounts perceived as gimmicky or not genuine? Such feedback offers a customer-centric lens to your historical data, ensuring that the voice of the customer resonates in your strategy.

Identify Product Trends

Understanding current market demands and predicting future trends is akin to possessing a crystal ball. Tapping into product trends gives businesses an edge, ensuring that their BFCM offerings resonate with customers’ aspirations and desires. So, how can one chart the course of these ever-shifting trends?

  • Year-Round Bestsellers: Consistency is telling. Year-round bestsellers are indicative of steadfast customer preferences. Whether it’s the enduring allure of smart home devices or the perennial popularity of certain skincare products, these consistent performers shouldn’t be overlooked. Stocking them adequately and possibly offering modest discounts can solidify their bestseller status during BFCM.
  • Emerging Trends: The digital age has gifted retailers with tools that can almost predict the future. Leveraging platforms like social media sentiment analysis, influencers’ buzz, and even Google Trends can provide insights into what the market is tilting towards. For instance, with increasing environmental consciousness, sustainable products or eco-friendly gadgets might be the next big thing. Or perhaps, with the resurgence of past fashion eras, there’s an evident uptick in retro-styled accessories.
  • Seasonal Shifts: Given that BFCM occurs at the cusp of winter, seasonal products geared towards colder months might witness heightened demand. From winter wear to holiday-themed items, understanding and capitalizing on seasonal shifts can give retailers an added advantage.

Pricing and Discount Strategies

Pricing is not just a mere transactional element; it’s an intricate dance of psychology, market dynamics, and brand positioning. As BFCM looms, crafting the right pricing and discount strategies becomes the linchpin of success. It’s about striking a balance: enticing customers with deals they can’t resist while ensuring sustainable profit margins. How do you tread this tightrope?

  • Competitor Benchmarking: In the age of transparent digital marketplaces, keeping a pulse on competitors’ pricing is crucial. It offers retailers context. While you shouldn’t carbon copy their strategies, understanding market standards helps gauge customer expectations. Are your competitors offering blanket discounts or focusing on specific categories? How does your brand value proposition stack up against theirs in light of pricing?
  • Elasticity Analysis: Every product has a price elasticity threshold, the point at which its demand fluctuates with price adjustments. Delving into historical sales data, retailers can gauge how past price changes impacted demand. Was there a spike in sales with a 15% discount but only a marginal increase at 20%? Such insights guide businesses in setting discount rates that magnetize customers without diluting profit margins.
  • Dynamic Pricing: With advanced analytics tools at disposal, many retailers are adopting dynamic pricing. It involves real-time price adjustments based on current market demand, competitor prices, and inventory levels. For instance, if a hot product is selling out fast, a slight price adjustment upwards can maximize profitability without hurting sales momentum.

Predictive Stock Management

Navigating the stormy seas of BFCM demands more than just offering attractive deals; it requires a behind-the-scenes orchestration of stock management. What good is a stellar discount if products fly off the shelves within the first few hours, leaving potential buyers disappointed? Enter predictive stock management – a blend of past insights and future predictions to keep your inventory game on point.

  • Real-time Inventory Management: Modern retail demands agility. Tools that offer real-time inventory insights are no longer a luxury but a necessity. Such systems not only track current stock levels but can send alerts when products dwindle, allowing for timely replenishment. The key is not just to react but to act swiftly, minimizing stock-out scenarios, especially for in-demand products.
  • Anticipatory Stocking: Instead of merely reacting, how about forecasting? Predictive analytics tools delve into past sales patterns, current market trends, and even broader macroeconomic factors to project future demand for specific products. This means you can stock up in anticipation. For instance, if a newly launched gadget is creating significant buzz or if winter wear is projected to be the season’s highlight, anticipatory stocking ensures you’re adequately prepared.
  • Supply Chain Integration: A predictive approach extends beyond in-store shelves. Integrating predictive analytics with supply chain processes ensures streamlined restocking. If a product is predicted to be a BFCM hit, close coordination with suppliers can ensure quicker replenishments, avoiding potential supply bottlenecks.

Personalization and Segmentation

During pivotal events like BFCM, the one-size-fits-all approach is a relic of the past. Today’s discerning consumers yearn for relevance; they crave experiences tailored just for them. To shine amidst the BFCM chaos, brands need to master the dual strategies of personalization and segmentation.

  • Customer Segmentation: While every customer is unique, patterns do emerge in behavior, preferences, and purchasing habits. Segmenting customers into specific groups — whether based on demographics, buying history, or even browsing behavior — allows retailers to tailor their BFCM promotions more effectively. For instance, a segment that primarily purchases high-end products might be more receptive to exclusive early-access deals, while budget-conscious shoppers could be targeted with bundled offers.
  • AI-driven Personalization: Technology, especially artificial intelligence, has revolutionized the realm of personalization. Now, retailers can offer real-time, tailored product recommendations based on a customer’s online behavior. Imagine a shopper browsing winter coats and, within moments, receiving a curated list of matching accessories or exclusive BFCM discounts on complementary items. This isn’t just enhancing the shopping experience; it’s amplifying potential sales.
  • Behavioral Email Campaigns: Segmentation and personalization shine particularly brightly in email marketing. Using behavior-triggered email campaigns, retailers can reach out to customers who, for instance, abandoned their carts with a special BFCM discount. Or perhaps, loyal customers could receive early bird notifications of upcoming deals, cementing their bond with the brand.

Seamless Digital Experience

Gone are the days when consumers tolerated sluggish websites or clunky interfaces. A brand’s digital touchpoints, from websites to apps, need to be as smooth as the silkiest of fabrics. A seamless digital experience isn’t a mere luxury; it’s the lifeline of modern retail success.

  • Responsive Design: With consumers accessing online stores from a plethora of devices—smartphones, tablets, desktops, and even smart TVs—a responsive design ensures that your website morphs perfectly to any screen size. No squinting, no awkward scrolling, just a clean, intuitive shopping experience regardless of the device.
  • Load Speed Optimization: In the high-velocity world of BFCM shopping, every second counts. Studies have repeatedly shown that even a split-second delay in page load time can significantly drop conversion rates. Employing CDNs, optimizing images, and streamlining scripts can make your digital portals swift and agile, matching the urgency of BFCM shoppers.
  • Unified Shopping Cart: As customers flit between devices or even between online and offline touchpoints, a unified shopping cart ensures they can pick up right where they left off. Whether adding products via mobile and checking out on desktop, or browsing in-store and buying online, seamlessness is maintained.
  • AI-Enhanced Search and Filters: An overwhelmed shopper is often a lost sale. With AI-driven search functions and smart filters, customers can swiftly zero in on desired products, bypassing the noise and avoiding choice paralysis.

Post-Purchase Analysis

The immediate aftermath presents a golden opportunity that’s just as crucial as the event itself: post-purchase analysis. It’s the period to dissect, understand, and learn from the myriad transactions and interactions that took place.

  • Customer Feedback Loop: A sale isn’t the endpoint of the customer journey—it’s a milestone. Post-BFCM is the perfect time to solicit feedback. Was the checkout process smooth? Did the products meet expectations? Such insights offer a direct glimpse into what worked and what could be refined. Implementing systems, be it automated email surveys or interactive feedback platforms, can be invaluable.
  • Return and Refund Analytics: Returns are often seen as a setback, but they’re rich data sources. By analyzing return reasons, retailers can spot potential issues, be it sizing discrepancies in apparel or software bugs in electronics. Such insights can guide future inventory decisions or even product design tweaks.
  • Sales Data Deep Dive: Beyond the top-line revenue figures, delving deep into sales data can uncover patterns. Which products were the unexpected hits? Which bundled deals fell flat? By segmenting sales data—by product category, customer demographics, or even time of purchase—retailers can unearth insights to fine-tune future BFCM strategies.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) Projection: BFCM can be a gateway to long-term customer relationships. By analyzing post-purchase behaviors, like repeat purchases or engagement with loyalty programs, retailers can project CLV, allowing them to strategize long-term engagement initiatives.


Gearing up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday isn’t just about flashy banners and broad discounts. It’s about intelligent, data-informed decisions that cater to consumer desires while safeguarding business interests.

As BFCM approaches, dive deep into the data ocean, extract actionable insights, and set the stage for a successful sales event.