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50 days to the start of ‘Black Fiveday’ – and this year it’s going to be all about mobile, says Salmon

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With 50 days to go until Black Friday 2016, global ecommerce consultancy Salmon anticipates this year will be the tipping point for mobile in the UK.

This year Salmon – which accurately predicted that Black Friday 2015 would be the UK’s first £1 billion online shopping day – forecasts that 2016 will extend beyond just Black Friday with the first ever, £5 billion Black Fiveday week (24th – 28th Nov).

Having analysed data from the Salmon ‘Peak operations service’ and industry trends from 2015, Salmon projects this will be the first Black Friday period where mobile dominates online activity, overtaking desktop with a total of £2.55 billion Black Fiveday purchases made via mobile.

It is imperative therefore that retailers not only ensure they are prepared from an online perspective, but that they have a strong mobile offering to manage the peak as well. Having the capacity and ability to manage this peak period over the expected five days from Thursday 24th to Monday 28th November is crucial.

With only 50 days left until the shopping phenomenon is upon us, retailers should be in the final stages of testing and preparing their sites. However, John Beechen, Salmon’s Head of Managed Services offers retailers advice on three key things they can be doing now to ensure they are prepared:

  • Capacity testing: Retailers now have less than 50 days to safeguard their sites and systems so that they are capable of functioning with increased levels of traffic over long periods of time. Rigorous testing will be essential, as well as using predictive analytics to certify that systems are able to cope with the levels of traffic expected and any surplus that may occur.

  • Be mobile optimised: As mobile is going to take an even more prominent steak in Black Friday this year, with shoppers doing much of their browsing and purchasing on their mobile devices during their commutes for instance, retailers need to verify that their sites are mobile optimised and allow shoppers to browse and make purchases easily.

  • Team alignment: One thing that is vital is communication. All departments from marketing, to the technical teams must be briefed and fully aware of any peak trading plans. This includes making sure that the teams pricing and promotion strategies are consistent across online and offline channels, as conflicting information across channels is likely to confuse and lose customers. That way, all elements of the business can align and work together. The business is going out with one cohesive message and maximising the opportunity Black Fiveday and the days that follow present.

John Beechen, Head of Managed Services at Salmon, explains: “Black Friday is no longer about one single day, or week. Now it is an opportunity to create an ongoing experience that can help grow a retailer’s customer base and loyalty.” Beechen adds, “Even those retailers who do not want to participate in Black Friday need to prepare themselves, as consumers will be in the mood to shop, so they are likely to see an increased uptake and conversion of sales even if they aren’t offering deals and discounts.”

But it is not just having great mobile capabilities that are going to be key this Christmas, fulfillment also has a big part to play.

According to John Pincott, European MD, Kibo: “With £5 billion at stake, the race to capture sales during ‘Black Fiveday’ or the ‘Cyber Five’ weekend will be fiercer than ever. What’s crucial however is that retailers not only focus on flashy mobile store-fronts and enticing products, but that they also have the right delivery systems in place to quickly get purchases into shoppers’ hands.”

According to Pincott, the patience of happy shoppers quickly wears thin. “Next-day, or same-day, fulfilment is often expected as standard,”he says. “Retailers need to effectively route orders to match where there’s most demand. Don’t just limit shoppers to what’s only available in a central warehouse. Showing what’s available to pick-up locally today online, shipping products directly from stores and offering click-and-collect should be priority.”

Pincott believes that retailers shouldn’t simply treat ‘Black Fiveday’ as a flash in the pan and the opportunity to quickly cash-in on seasonal sales. “Offering slick digital services and smart fulfilment options will also convert shoppers into loyal long-term customers,” he says.

To help you with getting ready for Black Fiveday, Salmon has created ‘The Black Friday and Peak Trading Ecommerce Operations Playbook’, a guide based on Salmon’s experience in supporting the peak operations of several leading UK retailers. Salmon will also be continuing the ‘Peak operations service’ this year, which was successfully run for retailers in 2015 and included performance testing, readiness planning and a 24 hour operations centre to monitor and detect site issues before they impact the customer.

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