It goes without saying that Black Friday is one of the most important days of the year for retailers.
It was predicted that £8.57 billion would be spent by UK shoppers on Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday this year, so the discounting period continues to be the key shopping event that kicks off Christmas spending.
Questioning the deals on Black Friday
One significant shift we’ve seen is the way in which some consumers are questioning how good the so-called deals really are – and, when 90% of these ‘deals’ can be found cheaper at other times of the year – and with just one in 20 deals found to be genuine, according to a Which? survey, who can blame them? Some shoppers also feel the event simply brings unsustainable Christmas spending forwards.
Chris Field, Retail Analyst thinks that having Black Friday deals can negatively impact on retailers. “Not only does it encourage extended pre-Christmas discounting, eating away at the squeezed margins these businesses already face not least in context of low consumer confidence and uncertainty caused by Brexit and an early General Election – but it also negatively impacts customer experience,” says Chris.
Website crashes during peak trading
And with website crashes that are likely to happen during the sales bonanza, friction at the online check-out will undoubtedly be poor, and negatively impacting conversions and customer lifetime value. Already we have witnessed Superdrug’s website experiencing online payment glitches due to the sudden spike of visitors at the online checkout process.
Recent research commissioned by Tribe shows that poor website experience, such as slow loading webpages, could risk losing retailers £857m in lost sales opportunities across the Black Friday weekend. 93% of Black Friday shoppers had been frustrated by having to digitally ‘queue’ to get onto a retailer’s website to access bargains.
Though Black Friday discounts can be a key opportunity for brands and retailers to engage with new audiences – Tribe’s research also shows that 88% of UK shoppers use Black Friday to explore new retail brands they don’t usually shop with. Deri Jones, CEO at Tribe thinks that this uptick in demand can cause unpredictable surges to retailers’ websites as shoppers look to make the most out of the deals on offer. For retailers to extract the maximum value from the Golden Quarter, their websites need to be in a state of permanent readiness, so that customer experience is upheld, customer loyalty remains uncompromised, and sales opportunities aren’t lost.
Engaging with the mobile customer
The key to capitalising on the rush of extra customers is the ability to identify and track not just cookies and devices, but individual shoppers. “Retailers armed with a customer’s email address, who can achieve persistent identification across sales channels and multiple devices, will be able to provide a hyper-personalised shopping experience to ensure customers keep coming back for more well into January and beyond,” concludes Robert Massa, General Manager, BounceX EMEA.
To compete, retailers will need to make sure that they not only have a smooth mobile-first customer experience, but that they also have a smooth mobile payments process that accepts the most popular payment methods.
A word of advice
Much has been made of the Black Friday event moving online, becoming less of an in-store event and footfall driver. For Matt Bradley, Chairman of the RetailEXPO Advisory Board bricks-and-mortar still represents a key opportunity for retail businesses to capitalise on the sales bonanza, and those who perform well on Black Friday will be those retailers who optimise all their sales channels. This means robust and optimised ecommerce architectures and, in-store, a combination of entertainment, experiences and services that, when blended with discounts, engage customers and drive conversions.
Those that fail to do so will be handing over business to their fiercest competitors.