BLACK FRIDAY

Here at A1 Retail we will be updating this page over the next few days with different industry professionals’ comments on this retail trend!

Helen Slaven, Chief Commercial Officer at Eagle Eye

With over half of Black Friday now over and Cyber Monday looming, retailers need to consider results so far and adjust their strategy accordingly. With more and more shoppers heading online and with Which? noting that consumers are now tracking prices over a period of time rather than making impulse purchases in flash sales, how can retailers respond in time for Cyber Monday?

Helen Slaven, Chief Commercial Officer at Eagle Eye, a digital promotions specialist, believes the key to capitalising on peak periods is taking insights from the data generated and using them to target new and existing customers, offering personalised deals that actually offer value – what today’s consumers are now starting to expect.

“The common perception of Black Friday is a period of blanket promotions and heavy discounting, with shoppers competing and literally tripping over each other to get a deal. It’s little wonder that consumer attitudes are becoming more negative. If retailers offer the same level of discount to all, loyal customers receive equal benefits to floating consumers just looking around for the best deal on the day. Why would you give away your best offers to this category who may never return to the brand? Purchases by the blanket technique therefore represent a quick-win with no real long-term benefits.

The wealth of data generated by the increasing use of mobile devices means retailers know where their customers are, who they are and how they are engaging with Black Friday. An intelligent strategy for securing loyalty is to offer tiered promotions with most loyal customers receiving premium rewards. The key to this strategy is personalisation. Loyalty applications help retailers to gain the data to understand what represents a valuable reward for their customer.”

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Catherine Shuttleworth, CEO at Savvy

“I’ve been here at the Argos Distribution Centre in Barton since 0530am where there’s a sense of great calm and slick organisation despite this being the biggest and busiest day of the year for the Argos business. With 800+ staff on site during this peak week they’re expecting to pick over 2m items & over 330,000 today. With business operating 24/7 the Barton distribution centre will process 15,000 parcels an hour alone.

On the Fast Track side of the business, Argos are expecting to deliver about 800,000 items to their customers over the next 2 weeks (+ 190% up on an average fortnight so far this year) with a multitude of delivery options offered too – meeting differing customer needs.

And today so far they’ve had over 1/2m visits in first hour, from midnight to 1am. Video games consoles and video games are most popular so far and also expect this to move onto vacuum cleaners, toys and wearable tech at the day goes on. It’s also going to be a very heavy digital day with over 80% of online orders are coming from mobiles.

So what does this all mean? Well, this year Black Friday promises to be a shopping bonanza. The event will have huge traction online with shoppers able to shop anywhere and anyhow looking for great deals on Xmas gifts, but also high ticket items in electrical and tech. This year it feels like everyone wants a slice of Black Friday with inboxes jammed full of email marketing campaigns not just from retailers but from car dealers, hotels and even b2b campaigns offering discounts.”

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Mark Kelly, Marketing Manager at AppliancesDirect.co.uk

APPLIANCESDIRECT.CO.UK has experienced a Black Friday breakfast boom as the website saw a surge in sales between 7am–9am this morning as savvy shoppers scoured the internet for Black Friday offers before starting work, with website visits 80% up year-on-year, and visits from mobile devices up 225% year-on-year.

The home appliance etailer has revealed it sold over 4,000 blenders, over 2,000 washing machines, and 1,000 4K HD TVs since sales went live at midnight this morning, and has added hundreds of new last minute Black Friday deals to its website.

Mark Kelly, Marketing Manager at AppliancesDirect.co.uk commented “We anticipated strong sales, but the popularity in cut price home appliances this year has surpassed our expectations. Shoppers have taken full advantage of thousands of pounds of savings on big ticket items in anticipation of price rises in technology early next year as a result of the exchange rate changes following the referendum result.”

“We have also added hundreds of new branded deals on washing machines, dishwashers, fridges, freezers and 4K HD televisions to our Black Friday sales, with big ticket items at genuine discounts at the lowest prices shoppers will find in the UK.”

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Mark Denton, Head of Retail Propositions at Aptos Retail, has the following comments on how brands and retailers can react to this overwhelming preference for shopping online today:

“Retailers risk damaging their reputation if they handle Black Friday poorly. Website infrastructure will likely improve this year. Black Friday is not an unexpected peak and technology has been introduced to make the customer experience more pleasant, for example virtual queuing. There is no longer any excuse for 8am web outages.

However retailers should set expectations up front when it comes to delivery options. Being able to respond to the volume of orders is just as important as making sure the website is running efficiently so that orders can be made. One solution for retailers could be running a live monitoring system which then disables the next-day delivery option towards the end of the day or the opposite, where retailers open up next-day delivery after 4pm to drive up sales.

One solid way to ease the pressure of Black Friday for retailers is to drive customers in-store. Take the strain off the web fulfilment channel and offer Click and Collect to targeted desktop and mobile shoppers. This doesn’t just alleviate the pressure on the retailer’s web infrastructure, it’s also a clever marketing tactic to guide the customer towards in-store deals and other products.”

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Dave Campbell, VP, Customer Engagement and Support Solutions at LogMeIn

“Customer expectations do not change during your peak season and neither should their experience. Especially when there is no shortage of options and alternative experiences to explore. Peak shopping periods are the true test of retailers’ relationship with customers and retailers that have not invested appropriately risk being ditched in favour of better experiences.

When you consider that 82 per cent of customers will stop doing business with a brand following one bad experience, retailers really cannot afford to offer anything less than a fast, frictionless and efficient service. Beyond the financial implications, failure to do this could also lead to long term reputational damage that can be more difficult to correct.”

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Stephanie Dexter, Director of Operations at UPS UK

Expectations from shopping milestones, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2016

“The extension of Black Friday campaigns over multiple days previously has diluted some of the impulse “buy now” deals – driving sales volumes higher on the day before Black Friday itself, according to earlier retail research.

As seasonal shopping becomes increasingly global, these once US-specific milestones are gaining more traction and popularity in the UK. We’re now seeing more retailers extend these milestones from just one day into longer promotional periods, to better manage the volume of orders received.

In the 2016 season, UPS expects to deliver more than 700 million packages globally over the Black Friday and Christmas shopping periods alone, up 14% from the peak delivery period in 2015 during which saw 630 million packages delivered.”

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Dom Joseph CEO and Co-Founder of Captify, an insights-driven advertising technology company

“Today will undoubtedly surpass the record £1.1 billion spent last year by bargain-hungry customers. In the six years since its introduction into the UK, Black Friday is rightly recognised as the best day of the year to get a good deal on a huge variety of products.”

“We are seeing two key trends emerge this year, firstly, more and more retailers, both online and offline, have offered discounts well ahead of Black Friday. Amazon launched its ‘35 days of Black Friday’ , while UK companies, such as Argos and Tesco, have also offered deals ahead of the day, in order to capture as many consumers as possible. Retailers know the heightened expectations that consumers have for Black Friday, which is why we’ve seen such growth in discounts before the event itself.”

“Secondly, people are now monitoring the prices of products they want to buy, months in advance of Black Friday, and researching information as early as August. Not only this, based on the analysis of 15 billion online searches, there was actually an 11% jump last month of UK consumers researching product prices related to Black Friday, compared to last year.”
“Consumers will always vote with their wallets, and if Black Friday didn’t offer huge price discounts on products that consumers valued and wanted, it wouldn’t be nearly as successful as it is and will continue to be.”

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Mike Harris, VP EMEA at Monetate

“The key for success during peak trading is to build a loyal customer base before peak season arrives. Black Friday is focussed on discount, so when every other retailer is cutting its prices to outdo the competition, retailers with a combination of good prices, a stand-out personalised experience and an existing loyal customer base are going to end up the winners. Ultimately it’s the customer experience, comprised of important elements like relevancy, brand engagement, service, support and convenience that will be the deciding factor for retailers success this Black Friday, if they want to escape the downward spiral of price-based competition.”

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Epos Now – Black Friday sales spark Christmas overspending spree

With UK sales on Black Friday rocketing to a staggering £1.3billion as consumers make impulse discount purchases, a recent survey from Epos Now has revealed that these mega deals can often lure consumers into financial trouble. Over half (57%) of UK customers admitting that they only have a rough idea about their budget for Christmas – making the Black Friday sales just too much of a temptation to ignore.

The Black Friday sales often acts as a catalyst for people’s Christmas spending spree and with just under a quarter (23%) of UK consumers admitting to having no budget at all for their Christmas shopping, the US inspired discount craze could be doing more harm than good. Thirteen million people are already expected to overspend at Christmas this year according to Experian research.

“Every year the money experts warn us to keep to our budget at Christmas. But it seems that the majority of shoppers don’t even set a budget in the first place,” says Jacyn Heavens, CEO Epos Now. “This is despite the fact that 30% have over 10 presents to buy.”

The Epos Now survey which polled 1,000 UK consumers, revealed that saving money is not on the agenda with only 20% of buyers saving for Christmas throughout the year. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that one-third (33%) don’t check their bank balance when buying gifts. “It’s definitely still a case of ‘spend now, worry later’, despite warnings around personal debt and concerns about the future economy,” adds Heavens.

Retailers will also be interested to learn that over half (55%) of those polled plan to use credit or other bank cards to make these purchases.  According to the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), credit card spending was up 14% during the year 2014/5 and it seems likely that there will have been a similar rise this year.

“It all points to ‘Christmas as usual’ – despite fears that Brexit plans may derail the UK economy and jobs with it,” says Heavens.

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Negative reviews double on Black Friday as shoppers share their experiences online – James Westlake, UK Country Manager of Trustpilot, said:

“On Black Friday last year we saw the number of negative reviews almost double, accounting for more than one in ten (10.55%) reviews on Trustpilot compared to just one in 20 (5.37%) the day before, as disgruntled shoppers went online to share their experiences online.

That’s why we are encouraging retailers to concentrate on delivering great service, as well as great discounts this Black Friday, as customer expectations won’t drop in line with their prices. From delivery and customer support to product stock and website maintenance, customers are expecting what they’re accustomed to throughout the year.

What’s more, with our new research revealing 52% of Black Friday shoppers planned to do more research this year in an effort avoid unreliable retailers, poor customer service could prove costlier than ever as consumers becoming increasingly selective.

Those businesses that prioritise listening to, engaging with and prioritising their customers will not only enjoy a successful Black Friday this year but also long term, trusting relationships going forward.”

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Jacques de la Bouillerie from on-demand staffing platform, Coople, says:

“On-demand staffing is the Black Friday retail staff solution. It doesn’t make financial sense for retailers to take on seasonal or semi-permanent staff for longer periods than necessary in order to cope with a few retail calendar peaks. But nor do they have to go into 24/7 meltdown during these busier periods by making do with the regular number of staff.  Modern technology and new digital recruitment solutions exist to make it really easy and quick for retailers to source and hire flexible, part-time employees to fill the gaps – be that for sales assistants to help manage the shop floor, brand ambassadors to engage with customers face to face, and stockroom assistants to support logistics and in-house teams behind the scenes. In a matter of hours you can have a fully vetted, experienced retail worker alongside you and your regular staff in order to cope with the expected surge of Black Friday shoppers.”

    2018 A1 Buyers Guide
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