A Retailer’s Guide to Surviving Black Friday & Cyber Monday
A Retailer’s Guide to Surviving Black Friday & Cyber Monday

A Retailer’s Guide to Surviving Black Friday & Cyber Monday

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Shoppers rush to grab discounted televisions in Asda during Black Friday 2014

Since 2013, the UK has adopted the American retail phenomenon of Black Friday. The day after the US holiday of Thanksgiving, Black Friday’s now legendary sales mark the start of the Christmas shopping season and have been responsible for countless news reports showing mobs of shoppers battling it out for the best bargains.

Black Friday’s deals are now often extended across the entire weekend, culminating in Cyber Monday, which is specifically for online deals. Last year, the four-day weekend was worth £3.3billion in UK retail sales, one third of which was spent on Friday alone.

Cyber Monday evolved from the traditional Black Friday event in 2005, the term created by a vice president at the American National Retail Foundation to encourage consumers to shop online. In theory, Cyber Monday represents the busiest online shopping day of the year, but as commerce moves increasingly online it’s likely this will no longer be the case.

Shoppers crowd around discounted electronics in Asda on Black Friday

Following on from 2014’s chaotic scenes, several retailers declined to take part in the 2015 Black Friday event, including Next, Jigsaw, and notably Asda – credited with bringing the phenomenon into mainstream UK retail in 2013.

Whilst from a consumer perspective, Black Friday and Cyber Monday might be all about discounts, there’s a lot more to the weekend from a retail perspective, opening up opportunities beyond short-term revenue increases.

From Store, to Website, to Mobile

2015 saw lower levels of footfall in stores, both in the UK and US – perhaps put off by the aggressive experiences of previous years. Stores still drew considerably more traffic than on normal trading days – and rental firm Hertz noticed a 20% increase in van rentals on the day, as shoppers needed more room to transport their purchases.

Instead of taking the trip out to fight the crowds in store, shoppers opted to hunt for their cut-price deals online. As a result of this, several major retailers struggled with the unprecedented surge of traffic, with numerous sites suffering from delays in load times, and the Argos site crashing completely.

Asda team members try to keep order as shoppers battle over cut-price electronics on Black Friday

Whilst savvy retailers will have already invested in upgrading their servers ahead of this year’s event, for the first time ecommerce analysts are predicting that the majority of purchases will take place on mobile, making it more important than ever that retailers have a robust cross-channel presence.

With shoppers spending their cash instore, online and on mobile, the ability to track customers across all channels is critical, to establish the journeys and communications that are driving the most revenue.

Increasing Spend – Eroding Margins

Last year, Amazon achieving its best ever day of sales in the UK, totalling £7.4million and selling an average of 86 items per second. Other retailers achieved similar success, although perhaps not on the same scale – with UK retail spend totalling £3.3billion over the weekend.

This year, analysts are predicting that Black Friday could bring the UK’s first ever £5billion shopping week.

This increased spend does come at a cost, as the heavy discounting expected by consumers erodes profit, particularly problematic when selling to existing customers who would have made those purchases anyway.

The decreased profit margins can be offset by increasing the average order value of each basket – something that is easily achieved by cross-selling and using product recommendations, which expose your customers to more products that are relevant to them.

A combination of these methods can be effective for each customer profile – whether they’ve carefully planned and researched their Black Friday purchases, or whether they’ve just turned up in the hope of scooping a bargain.

Customers battle the crowds to get their hands on Black Friday deals in Asda

Profiling Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shoppers

If you’re getting into the spirit of the season by offering discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you’re in an ideal position to capture rich data on browsers, even if it’s their first visit to your website. Tracking behaviours and capturing customer details now allows you to build a profile of these customers that you can use to serve them better in the future.

By virtue of the fact that they’ve come to shop with you during the Black Friday & Cyber Monday weekend, it would be reasonable to assume that this customer group respond well to communications offering discounts, but there’s much more information available to help you further segment these consumers, and now’s the time to gather it.

The data you collect now can be used to fuel a personalised engagement strategy that will turn first-time shoppers that were enticed by Black Friday discounts into life-long customers that will generate revenue year-round for your business.

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