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PEAK 2017 From first Black Friday sale to the role of the store

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The way people shop over Black Friday and Christmas 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. This week, the focus is on the first Black Friday sales and on figures that suggest shoppers plan to spend across channels this year.

Black Friday promotions already underway

Black Friday itself may not be until November 24, but over at Wiggle the discounting has already begun. The retailer is already well into week one of four weeks of deals, including 50% off items including trainers, lights and bike clothing. The bike to running and cycling trader says this year is its “biggest yet” for Black Friday, with hundreds of new deals arriving every week. Is this the first Black Friday sale for 2017? unveils pop-up shop as part of Black Friday campaign

Amazon will open its first branded store in the UK – a pop-up shop in London’s Soho Square. The outlet will open its doors between Tuesday November 21 and Black Friday, November 24 between 12.30pm and 7.30pm each day. The retailer says customers will be invited to explore the best of Amazon’s Black Friday Sale and Amazon Prime, try their hand at a range of games to win prizes and take part in one of the many themed workshops, from foodie fun to crafts tutorials. “Visitors to the ‘Home of Black Friday’ can also sample new products and get advice from gifting and lifestyle experts, as well as enjoy a few extra surprises throughout the four day event,” it says.

The retailer’s online Black Friday Sale will run for what seems, in the light of Wiggle’s sale, a relatively modest 10 days, from November 17 (opening at midnight) to 26 (closing at 11.59pm). Amazon itself will be offering deals, but they’ll also come from the small businesses and craftspeople selling on the Amazon Marketplace and on Handmade at Amazon. As previous years there’ll be Lightning Deals that are open first to members of Amazon Prime.

Amazon, an Elite retailer in IRUK Top500 research, says that last Christmas more than 70% of customers used the Amazon app to shop via their mobile device, using functionality including camera search and match-a-deal alerts. Logistics are also a point of competition for Amazon, which promises delivery as quickly as an hour to Prime members in major cities.

“Customers tell us they love getting extra low prices so they can save on their Christmas shopping,” said Doug Gurr, country manager, “This year we have hundreds of small businesses from our Marketplace offering great deals on their unique and creative products, making it even easier to find perfect gifts with our Black Friday sale.

“We’re making Black Friday more fun than ever by holding our first ever Home of Black Friday pop up in Central London and have just released our TV advert which features our iconic boxes having a sing-a-long to celebrate the festive season.”

Currys PC World focuses on its expertise in its ad

Currys PC World focuses on technical expertise in its £6m advertising campaign this year, with the tagline Get It Right this Christmas.

The campaign, running on TV, video on demand, social and online via YouTube, dramatises three scenarios in which Currys PC World colleagues have been given products to experience in their own home lives, so that they’re able to give truly first-hand advice to shoppers in store.

Georgina Bramall, head of brand and advertising at Dixons Carphone , said: “As market leaders, it’s our job to set an example and do everything we can to help customers ‘get it right’ at Christmas – so it makes complete sense that our own store colleagues test-out and get hands-on with the products for themselves. Being able to access expert advice from people who know and love technology is not just reassuring – it’s essential. Increasingly, this is what sets us apart from our competitors in the minds of our customers and our suppliers.”

Shoppers set to spend across channels

Stores remain important for shoppers this Christmas, with 66% of online shoppers set to visit a store in order to touch and feel an item before they buy, a new study suggests.

Astound Commerce Insights questioned 1,000 US consumers and 1,000 from Europe. Each participant was selected because they owned a smartphone and shopped anline at least four times a year, spending $250, or its equivalent, or more.

In its Competing For Customers During the Holidays and Beyond report Astound found that both the customer experience and strong service would be important factors as shoppers decide where to buy this Christmas – but that making savings would be the most important factor.

It found 32% of shoppers were highly likely to use touchscreens or kiosks in store to find, order or arrange delivery of a product, while 27% would use VR, such as beauty simulation and room planning, when they choose a product.

“Our study revealed that every channel has a role to play this season,” said Lauren Freedman, SVP of digital strategy at Astound Commerce. “Brands and retailers have to make sure

they can get products to consumers when they want them and how they want them, as efficiency is top of mind for shoppers. They also need to figure out how to keep people coming back and away from Amazon, as not surprisingly our research found that the company will play a huge role this year in holiday shopping.”

The Astound Commerce report found that 78% of shoppers say the right price “always” drives them to buy, while 71% say free shipping, and 60% say valuable promotions. “Always” factors on logistics include being in stock and ready to ship (73%) and fast delivery (66%).

But Amazon is set to be a starting place for many Christmas shoppers this year, with 63% saying they’ll buy from Amazon this year, 40% saying they will make half of their purchases on the Amazon site and 69% saying they’ll opt for a marketplace over another retailer as they look for better prices. Loyalty programmes such as Amazon Prime drive buying, with 41% of online shoppers saying they’ll always buy from a retailer because they are a member of its loyalty programme.

Other key findings included the statistic that 59% of millenials had bought as a result of past social engagement (50% of all consumers), and that 55% of millennials would be prompted to visit a website as a result of social media (45% all consumers).

Meanwhile, four in 10 would buy from a retailer beause of a quality mobile app or web experience, and nearly 40% said they planned to order more products this year on mobile than last year.

“Brands and retailers must have a sophisticated set of programs, capabilities and customer service in place to grab their share of consumer dollars during the holidays with innovation always on the horizon,” said Freedman. “Marketplaces are well poised to continue their impressive growth, but competitors can leverage their physical stores and social media presence to entice customers to choose them instead.”

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