EDITORIAL Black Friday: a lesson in engagement

Customers must be engaged – but how?

Customers must be engaged – but how?

We won’t know for sure until early next week, but tomorrow’s Black Friday peak is set to be a big one. According to research by content management systems Magnolia of 1000 UK shoppers in this week, 20% are planning to buy over the weekend – meaning a traffic surge of more than 13 million people, it says.

Other research out this week points to many of these shoppers coming from mobile, as shoppers tap into the convenience of their always-on, always-with-them device to pounce on bargains as they happen wherever they may be.

Based on 2018 data, Bloomreach is predicting that more than 50% of ecommerce sales will come from mobile, while BounceX is predicting that more people will shop on mobile than desktop this year, with mobile conversions for Black Friday expected to outpace desktop conversions for the first time. 

Meanwhile, Wowcher is also predicting that mobile will be the main shopping channel – last year it saw 85% of transactions happening on mobile and expects even more this time round.

For retailers that have optimised for mobile, this will be a breeze: for those that haven’t, it could prove challenging – and Black Friday 2019 could well be the lesson in going mobile those that haven’t need to finally get with the programme.

But does it really matter? All week there have been a parade of mainstream media stories dissing Black Friday. Which? concluded that most bargains weren’t in fact bargains at all and could be bought cheaper at other times of the year.

Other have been quick to also point out that either shopper enthusiasm for Black Friday is waning, or that, even if it is a rip-roaring sales fest, all this discounting is just shaving much needed revenues off the peak trading season.

However, Black Friday may well serve another purpose – one that is perhaps more useful to retailers, certainly in the long run.

Research by Conversant this week suggests that ‘Peak Week’ is still a peak, but a much shallower one – but this isn’t bad news, this is good. The reason is that Conversant’s analysis suggests that Black Friday marketing (before, during and after the event) is leading shoppers to start earlier and carry on longer with their shopping and is even encouraging loyalty to certain brands and retailers if the right bargains are found at the right time.

In short, sales may well be discounted, but they might also be encouraging other sales.

Of course, none of this can be proven until after the event, but while looking at what is happening over Black Friday, it is worth noting that there may be more to it than meets the eye.

Black Friday, perhaps, is part of the on-going drive to get consumers to engage. While much of the attention is, this week at least, on marketing Black Friday deals, looking at the techniques being employed – from social media influence at Rimmel London to embedded video in email marketing at Oasis – there is a definite move towards using whatever channel – or event – to hook them in in new and innovative ways.

Looks like there could well be a raft of very interesting lessons to learn this year from Black Friday and the run up to Christmas.

Image: Adobe Stock/Fotolia

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