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November signals first £10bn mobile month – and the decline of the letter to Santa

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As Black Friday shopping fever hurtles towards us, experts are predicting that this year will the first £10bn mobile month spanning the whole new ‘peak’ of November. They also foresee the rise of voice ordering at Christmas, spelling the beginning of the end of the Christmas letter to Santa.

The figure has been arrived at by ecommerce consultancy Salmon – the company that correctly predicted that 2015 would be the first £1bn Black Friday – by combining research, its own data and that of IMRG.

Salmon already anticipates £20billion to be spent online in total in November. This would pave the way for a new kind of sales month in the form of a ‘Black November’, overtaking December as the biggest shopping month of the year. As shoppers become savvier with when, how and where they purchase, retailers will need to be equipped to cope with the rise in consumers using their mobile devices to browse and buy products as shopping becomes increasingly on-the-go.

As research shows 45% of consumers already use or plan to soon use digital assistants – and with 20% of all searches now made through voice – Salmon advises retailers to consider voice ordering in its peak operations strategy to cope with the increase in voice demand over the Christmas shopping period as children look set to turn to their Google Home or Amazon Echo for their Christmas lists.

James Webster, Head of Managed Services at Salmon, explains: “Black Friday is no longer about one single day, or week – it looks set to take over the whole month. Retailers have realised the opportunity it holds to create an ongoing experience that can help grow their customer base and loyalty, and so it is now an expectation. Even those retailers who do not want to participate in the peak trading phenomenon need to be prepared for it as shopping fever takes over and consumers scour online retailers even if they aren’t offering discounts.

“The retailers who manage their peak trading operations well will be the ones who have made plans across all departments, and ensured that their systems are able to function across all channels, making it a success for both customers and retailers alike.”

Black November checklist

With the period of peak trading being so important for retailers, Webster shares his checklist with retailers on what they need to have planned and considered for their peak operations during this time of heightened activity:

  1. Plan for more than just the day:Black Friday is no longer a day-long phenomenon. In fact, we expect the whole of November to be taken over with retailers creating sales events throughout the month.

  2. Think about your international customers:In 2016 we saw a significant increase in international sales, which was seemingly due to Brexit and the depreciated value of Sterling against international currencies as it’s now more economical for overseas shoppers to buy from UK retailers.

  3. Think about the channels your customers will be using:With consumers now using so many channels to research and shop for products, retailers will need to factor this into their peak operations. From desktop, to mobile to voice, all areas will need to be catered for so as to keep the customer journey fluid for shoppers.

  4. Test, test, and test some more:For any online retailer during peak times, stress testing is of utmost importance if they are to deal with the wave of traffic coming in. By making sure stress-tests are taken well in advance, retailers can shore up performance during the peak.

  5. Get your systems in position:The consumer desire for same and next-day delivery has put enormous stresses on companies’ fulfilment and operations systems, as inventory now has to be ready to be dispatched almost immediately after purchase. All elements need to work collectively and equally quickly for retailers to survive heavy loads during peak periods as if one slows, it could decelerate the whole process.

  6. Team alignment:Communication is key. Departments across the business, from marketing, to the technical teams need to be fully briefed and 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.

For more information from Salmon on Black Friday and peak trading, please see their Black Friday 2017 Ecommerce Operations Playbook

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