It’s here, the day all that preparation has been leading up to – the day when UK online retailers are expected to turn over a collective £1bn, and the day when they discover whether their websites will stand up to demand, and if their logistics promises will hold good.
The story so far is in this
House of Fraser
Marks & Spencer
There was some question as to whether retailers would be taking part this year – clearly all our Elite retailers have decided Black Friday is for them.
10.47am: An early update from Currys PC World , which says it’s seeing eight sales per second – with 30 TVs selling every minute online. Yesterday, website traffic was almost as high as Boxing Day last year. So far this week, it’s seen seven million visitors to the site. Today mobile traffic peaked as deals went live at 6am.
Stuart Ramage, ecommerce director at Currys PC World, says: “Last year was one of our most successful trading days ever so we’ve spent the last year preparing for this year’s event. We’ve seen unprecedented demand online with a 53% increase in hourly web traffic and across the country we’ve seen customers queuing from before the stores open – everyone’s in good spirits and things are running smoothly.”
11am: Ecommerce consultancy Salmon predicted that this would be the UK’s first £1bn online sales day – and it’s tracking that prediction through the day.
Here are its figures from this morning, reflecting findings between midnight and 8am.
• 106% increase in sales compared to Black Friday 2014
• 100% increase in completed orders from Black Friday 2014
• 59% of traffic is coming via desktop devices
• 41% of traffic is coming via mobile devices
InternetRetailing’s Martin Shaw has posted his
He also reports that House of Fraser TVs were showing as sold out by 10.50am.
12.50pm: James Westlake, UK country head for Trustpilot says this will be an important day for reviews. “After a day like Black Friday, shoppers often share their experiences online, both good and bad. Last Black Friday, we saw a 13% increase in reviews left on Trustpilot, and an 11% increase in negative reviews. As a retailer it can be tempting to focus on the quick wins instead of consistently delivering great customer service. However, significant increases in demand over a short period of time can put pressure on various aspects of doing business, from inventory to delivery right to website maintenance and customer support.
“While our data shows that Black Friday places a great strain on businesses, since consumers expect the same high level of customer service no matter what day of the year it is, it also shows that they recover quickly. Over the weekend immediately following Black Friday last year, just 8% of the reviews created were negative compared to an overwhelming 88% positive reviews. It’s clear that the businesses who do best on Black Friday are the ones who prioritise, listen and engage with their customers to build long term, trusting relationships.”
1pm: Our research team’s 1pm update. Game led the way with the fastest HTML home page load time, followed by Superdry and Ikea.
1.10pm: John Rakowski, technical strategy director at application performance management business AppDynamics says the fact that many retailers have seen performance issues as a result of the Black Friday rush. “Now that customers are using multiple devices, multiple operating systems and multiple platforms, companies need to evaluate their exposure to risk and invest in software to manage and optimise their sites and apps. If that doesn’t happen, the same frustration caused by queueing will be provoked by a slow performing app or website crash during checkout. It won’t be expensive hardware that saves the day, but a pre-emptive mind-set that looks to manage performance rather than batten down the hatches and hope for the best”
1.30pm: Bryan Roberts, senior vice-president and knowledge officer, EMEA, at Kantar Retail says shoppers seem to have gone online, rather than to stores, to get their Black Friday discounts. “TV crews outnumbered shoppers on London’s retail destination Oxford Street, while many stores that we visited were virtually deserted,” he said. “Only electricals retailer Currys and a couple of department stores were showing any signs of incremental business.
“If observations on social media are to be believed, it also appears that participating supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s were not exactly rushed off their feet during early trading. A couple of retailers, including Debenhams, have asserted that they are anticipating a decent uptick in shoppers after people finish work, but it remains to be seen if this more of an optimistic wish rather than a scientific forecast.”
He put the lack of in-store demand down to public apathy, rainy weather, and the way that some retailers have extended their Black Friday offers through a number of days. “It seems certain that ‘Black Friday’ will largely be an online event this year, with shoppers opting for the convenience of home delivery or click & collect rather than braving a trip to the high street, retail park or shopping centre,” he said. “Dixons Carphone has confirmed that it has been doing very brisk trade indeed so far today and has noted that it is expecting three million online visits today and 10 purchases per second at peak periods.
“Overall, there is little doubt that Black Friday (or the elongated version of it) will be a huge sales event for the UK retail sector, with Experian-IMRG predicting that sales will be up 32% to £1.07 billion. It just seems that stores will not be where most of this occurs.”
2pm: The 2pm update from our research team, ranking page load times. Zara has overtaken Game, now in second place, since 1pm.
3pm: The 3pm update from our research team: the fastest loading pages are led by Boden, Homebase and Superdry.
3.30pm The latest figures from Salmon suggest an increase in sales and orders throughout this Black Friday, compared to Black Friday 2014. Its Black Friday analytics hub examined traffic on UK shopping sites, including a cross section of its retail clients, and found conversion rates 133% ahead of the same time last year. Some 61% of traffic came through desktop sites, and 39% through mobile devices.
4pm: Update at 4pm from our research team.
4.30pm: Worldpay says Black Friday sales are on course to overtake those of previous years. Its analysis of this morning’s sales suggests UK online sales were already 52% ahead of the same time last year, while around the world it processed 40% more sales than last year. Shane Happach, chief commercial officer, global ecommerce at Worldpay, said: “With Black Friday now more than halfway gone, it’s safe to assume this year’s online sales in the UK will eclipse those of previous years, despite the backlash around the event that has dominated headlines over the past few weeks.”
The busiest period, it said, was between 8.15am and 9.15am, when Worldpay processed 320 transactions a second.
“If there were any doubts Black Friday will remain a staple of the global retail calendar, today’s spending has surely quelled them. We’re on track for yet another record-breaking day of sales, sending a clear message to retailers that shoppers’ appetite for major events like this remains strong.”
4.35pm: Currys PC World reports more than 400,000 visitors an hour to its website during peak trading, up 70% on last year’s event, with five online orders coming per second, 56% up on last year. Home delivery orders are up by 54% and Reserve and Collect reservations up by 18%, year on year. So far there have been 3.5m visits to the site.
Stuart Ramage, ecommerce director at Currys PC World, said: “In the last few hours of trading we’ve seen a 36% increase in online orders compared to Black Friday 2014 with 3.5 million visits to the site today alone. Our reservations for Reserve and Collect are up 18% on last year so as the day progresses, we expect customers to head in-store to collect their deals. We continue to see record-breaking traffic and look forward to seeing how the next few hours progress.”
5pm: Update at 5pm from our research team, with Next, Schuh and Ikea now the fastest loading retailers in the IRUK500 Top100.
5.10pm: Delivery management software specialist MetaPack says the number of orders it has processed during Black Friday is, so far, 25% up on last year, and it predicts total orders for the day will be 38% ahead.
6pm: Salmon’s latest update in its Black Friday analytics series found a 94% uplift in conversion rates between midnight and 4pm. Some 64% of traffic was via desktop devices and 36% via mobile devices.
7pm: Home pages of the IRUK Top25 retailers, evaluated over the course of Black Friday by our editor-in-chief Ian Jindal.
Saturday 28 November
7.30am: Post on the websites that didn’t cope by senior researcher Martin Shaw
7.45am: The average page load times of ecommerce platforms over Black Friday by senior researcher Martin Shaw
Here’s Sean Fleming’s account of Black Friday deliveries, over at eDelivery.net.
We continue on our Cyber Monday live blog.