Learnings from Black Friday 2015
In our last newsletter of 2015, we're focusing on what we've learned so far from Black Friday 2015. We asked key industry insiders for their insights into peak trading – and what lessons retailers might take from it for their trading in the next year. Expect to be surprised on Black Friday as Christmas shopping continues to change
Last year Black Friday took retailers by surprise because it was so busy online. This year, the surprise was that it was so quiet in store. Andy Mulcahy, editor at IMRG says this has become the day's hallmark. "The thing that has perhaps come to best characterise Black Friday is its capacity to surprise," says Mulcahy. "Last year it was the unprecedented scale, this year it was the empty shops – and it doesn’t quite feel like it’s settled into a reliable pattern yet either.
"While many extended their campaigns over a week or longer there are still huge discounts widely available from retailers so, from the perspective of shoppers at least, the opportunity to bag a mass sales event bargain has never really ended. The Christmas peak – included the traditional post-Christmas sales period – is in the process of being reshaped and it very much remains a story of evolving rather than evolved."But what a difference planning makes
Planning for Black Friday 2015 started in the early months of this year, after traders and carriers were surprised by overwhelming sales last year, dubbed a retail tsunami by the IMRG. The results, says Patrick Wall of delivery management software company MetaPack , are clear to see.
“This was an entirely different Cyber Weekend to previous years for many different reasons," said Wall. "With preparation by retailers and carriers made long in advance and with a much greater degree of collaboration and communication, all parties were able to forecast consumer behaviour with more accuracy. This in turn helped to ensure the supply chain and logistics were able to withstand increased volume and remain strong and stable throughout.
“There was a longer run-up to the Cyber Weekend in terms of offers and discounts being made, and many of these were extended way beyond the weekend, which meant that the impact of the huge orders was spread over more days, and this helped to keep processes manageable and enabled retailer delivery promises to be met.
“We will look back on the Cyber Weekend 2015 knowing that we learnt from the lessons of previous years, and put in place mechanisms that will stand us in good stead in the years to come.”Make the most of customer data gained over Black Friday 2015
Black Friday was the biggest shopping day of the year, and that means retailers are gaining information from both new and existing shoppers. Steve Ledgerwood, managing director UK, at Emarsys
, says Black Friday is growing fast, and it's a great opportunity to boost revenue and conversion from customers.
“The key for retailers, ecommerce sites and brands is to make use of the customer data generated from Black Friday in order to target customers in real-time with relevant offers and communications throughout the year," said Ledgerwood. "There’s a lot that digital marketers can learn. The focus shouldn’t just be on acquiring new customers but also reinforcing current relationships, as return customers often prove to be the most profitable.”Black Friday is a good day to test new technology
House of Fraser brought shoppable windows into play over Black Friday 2015. Shoppers could scan the window vinyl to trigger the Scan to Explore feature on the department store's iOS mobile app. From there they could buy the best Black Friday deals in a few clicks, instead of queuing inside. The retailer found the feature, powered by the Poq app platform, had a significant effect in boosting sales. Passers-by who scanned the windows spent more than twice browsing the app and placed orders that were an average 20% higher in value that the average order placed on the app during Black Friday. App installs were 116% higher on Black Friday than on an average day during the rest of the week.
"Compared to last year, the UK retail industry saw a fall in like-for-like store-generated sales, but an increase in online sales," said Oyvind Henriksen, chief executive and co-founder of Poq . "Initiatives such as shoppable windows create experiences that truly unite online and offline. House of Fraser has proven that creating more engaging experiences for window shoppers will open up new possibilities for generating revenue and increasing traffic."Black Friday is a good time to learn from negative reviews
Shoppers take no prisoners in the run up to Christmas, and 65% of those who leave negative reviews told Trustpilot
researchers they did so because of bad customer service. Some 62% will leave a bad review if items arrive damaged, while the same proportion of shoppers use online reviews to research products or retailers more at Christmas than other times of the year.
James Westlake, UK country head at Trustpilot, said: “Christmas can be a stressful time for shoppers, which makes it a much bigger problem when things go wrong. Customers are on edge, doing a lot more shopping than usual and they’ve got a hard deadline to work to. On the other side, retailers are under more strain than at any other period in the year, which means that, unfortunately, sometimes mistakes will happen.
“Of course, bad customer service is never going to leave shoppers with a great impression, but what our research demonstrates is it’s the way in which retailers react to a negative online review that matters in the long run." The study found that retailers could win back 70% of those that left negative reviews with the offer of a refund, discount or freebie, while 55% were looking for an apology and 46% simply for some response.
“Mistakes will happen, particularly at busy, stressful times like Christmas, but it’s how retailers deal with them that counts. Customers are for life, not just for Christmas, and those retailers that prioritise, listen and engage with their customers will carry them happily through the Christmas season and into the New Year," said Westlake.