The way people shop over Black Friday and the Christmas period tells us far more than how people are getting on with their present shopping. The changing way that shoppers are buying becomes magnified thanks to the sheer volume of transactions at this time of year. In addition, time-pressured shoppers look for, and adopt, new ways of doing things that they may then continue over the rest of the year. With this in mind, InternetRetailing is devoting a regular twice-weekly slot to peak shopping season 2017, highlighting the stories that struck us as most interesting over the last few days. Today the focus is firmly on the approach to Black Friday.
Kicking off Black Friday
The theme of early Cyber Week starts continued as Argos launched the main deals of its Black Friday event ahead of time. The retailer has previously saved its best web deals for just after midnight on Black Friday itself, but this year they went live at 9pm on Thursday evening, at the peak of two weeks of Black Friday deals that launched on November 15 and will continue until November 28.
Mark Steel, digital director at Argos, said: “Last year we saw enormous volumes of traffic on our website and Argos apps during the Thursday evening before Black Friday as customers started to hunt for the big bargains. This told us there was a clear appetite from our customers to snap up deals that evening, and that’s why we’ve decided to launc three hours early this year. This also means really dedicated bargain-hunters won’t have to burn the candle and stay up into the small hours to get the biggest deals as they have in previous years.”
Last year it saw around half a million visits an hour from 4pm on the Thursday before Black Friday.
This year it says it will help lower stress by hosting a kitten video channel on its website for Black Friday, and will also offer Fast Track Collection to enable customers to pick up their deals for up to seven days afterwards. It is also calling on the services of an extra 10,000 store staff as well as about 3,000 Fast Track home delivery drivers. Here’s Argos’ Black Friday video on the subject.
• Meanwhile, Game Digital kicked off its Black Friday early – in store as well as online. It turned its website off ahead of the 8pm deadline, in order to make more of a splash as it launched its deals. It’s selling games, consoles and related tech at discount prices.
‘Biggest and best’ Black Friday predictions
Retailer AppliancesDirect is predicting its biggest ever online sales day this Black Friday.
Its marketing manager Mark Kelly said: “Black Friday 2016 was our most successful to date and so we have high expectations for 2017 – we’ve been preparing for it for months.
“Black Friday now tops Boxing Day in both traffic and sales, and the website has already seen a 80% increase in traffic to our Black Friday deals landing page year on year.
“We are anticipating up to 10 times our usual traffic volumes to the website this Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. Ahead of the year’s biggest sales event we have recruited 10 additional members of staff across our ecommerce team, packing and dispatching, and customer services teams.
“We predict cordless vacuum cleaners, robotic vacuum cleaners, 4K Smart televisions, and food gadgets such as juicers and blenders will be a big hit this year.”
Ramping up deliveries
Delivery company UPS today said it expects to hire 1,400 extra seasonal staff to help with an anticipated surge in package volume that it predicts will continue until January.
This year, it expects to deliver approximately 750m packages globally during the holiday season, about 5% up on 2016. This includes an average of over 30m packages delivered per day in the lead up to Christmas.
“The growing package volumes associated with holiday shipping coincide with rising customer expectations of swift, stress-free deliveries,” said Luis Arriaga, president, UPS UK, Ireland & Nordics. “UPS’s global network allows us to offer shoppers and retailers a wide range of products and services, which can be adapted to meet their needs. These seasonal hires will help us meet the rising demand.”
In the UK, UPS has approximately 8,000 permanent employees, operates 60 facilities, and has a delivery fleet of more than 3,400 vehicles across the country.