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Black Friday 2017 heralds shift in omni-channel shopping

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Black Friday 2017 is set to be a mobile affair, as shoppers finally come to the realisation that mobile devices are the best way to shop during the frantic days of bargains. For those that are wedded to getting the best deals on Black Friday – or more likely across the week around Black Friday – will be toting smartphones, knowing that were ever they are they can pounce on a half price plasma screen TV or whatever tickles their fancy.

But this belies what is happening with the shopping festival. In reality, it seems that shoppers are going to be hunting those bargains on mobile, but will also be looking in-store. More than likely at the same time.

The Periscope By McKinsey report “Black Friday 2017 Shopping Report: Consumer sentiment is riding high”, not only highlights how mobile UK and US shoppers are set to be this Black Friday, but more interestingly how they have become much more omni-channel, with 36% (US) and 31% (UK) consumers planning to conduct their Black Friday shopping activities both in-store and online. That’s a big jump from last year, when just 18% and 11% respectively said they would divide shopping activities between digital and physical channels.

While the perception among many retailers is that Black Friday is really an online phenomena, the excitement of the physical store experience still retains a strong appeal for many Black Friday bargain hunters – that’s especially true for the 28% of US shoppers who say they only or mostly plan to shop in-store (compared to 17% of UK shoppers) this shopping holiday.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean that shops are what they once were to these consumers. A study by enterprise solutions specialist HSO finds that than three quarters (76%) of consumers want retail stores to become showrooms designed around the customer experience rather than just sales outlets.

Those under 34 even more keen – 88% said they would welcome this new model – and with 71% of the entire sample saying the most valued aspect of the store experience was to be able to “touch and feel” the products, these results are a green light for retailers currently evolving in this direction.

Survey participants here also displayed cautious acceptance of the Amazon scan and go model.

What is stark from these two studies is that shops, while not dead in any sense, are going to have to change quite radically. The Amazon scan and go concept, if anything, is relatively tame in terms of how it reshapes shopping – it just takes the checkout and queuing element away. But shoppers want a much more radical approach to how shops work.

The key is that shops will need to offer personalised service to those that do shop in them and will be about offering an experience rather than stock.

With Amazon looking to pre-empt orders and move stock to warehouses nearer to people who are about to buy things, the way retail stock works is already shifting. Combining this with a move to showrooming stores could really shake up retail.

And the message is getting through. Almost half of UK retailers are taking a joint approach to physical and digital investment, with fewer than 1 in 10 (8%) continuing to prioritise high street investment alone, according to VoucherCodes.

So, while Black Friday will be an interesting event, what it ushers in in its wake in terms of new shopping habits and new ways to use retail space will be far more interesting.


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