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EDITORIAL Growth in 2023 lies within the eye of the Black Friday hurricane

You are no doubt reading this in the eye of the Black Friday-Cyber Monday hurricane and we are all hoping that it has been a good one. Predications as to how Black Friday – and indeed the rest of the Peak season running up to Christmas – are numerous and varied, with the only common thread being that it is make or break for many smaller businesses.

But is it? While there is a contracting amount of consumer spend out there this year, there is still going to be spending on Christmas and, perhaps too often overlooked, the January sales. Capitalising on these two facts is now key for Growth 2000 retailers looking to come out the other side leaner and fitter. Or just to come out the other side. 

The trends that emerge over the coming weeks will dictate to a large extent just how shoppers will behave in the new year and it is tapping into this, both to capitalise on Black Friday, but also to be ready for 2023.

The key theme to emerge from pre-Black Friday research has been that, while shoppers are looking for a bargain, what they are really doing is shopping around on all channels at once. 

Store footfall may still be a bit down, however, shoppers are returning and they are using a trip to a physical retailer to assess what the offers are and, more importantly, what the quality-versus-value proposition of the goods actually is then buying them.

However, this is where the data gets murky. On the face of it, this looks very much as if online retail growth is stalling, however, that doesn’t tell the whole story. In fact, the web and mobile are playing an increasingly crucial part in the process: research. 

In particular, omnichannel messaging is front and centre to SME retailers when it comes to linking up with these shoppers, now and into 2023. And it all comes down to customer experience.

Smaller retailers are generally much more focussed on customer service and customer experience than their larger compadres and messaging is becoming the key channel to build this interaction. 

While much of it is still done using email, increasingly SMS and WhatsApp are also becoming very popular with consumers. As too is social media. These channels are, after all, where shoppers talk to each other, so why not the companies and brands that they do business with?

Understanding and unlocking this is going to be crucial not just across the next few weeks, but also into next year. Those sellers that can truly engage – and keep engaged – their customers are going to be the winners in what will no doubt be a tough year ahead.

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