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Social holds the key to discovery, sales – and cybercrime – this Black Friday


Black Friday, this week or next? The now global shopping spree where consumers’ average online spend doubles or even triples is upon us… but only if consumers know about it, writes Elizabeth Streeter.

According to a survey by Airtime Rewards one in ten (11%) of UK shoppers don’t actually know when Black Friday is this year, or even that it is a thing.

Interest also seems to be waning, with early data indicating much lower levels of search this year for Black Friday. Research from OrderFlow, through Google Trends analys, finds that searches around Black Friday are down 52% since 2019, indicating a drop in demand for the sales period despite the heavy promotions and revenue that is driven through the week leading up to and after the big day.

However, despite this, consumers still manage to buy heavily discounted products thanks in the main these days to social media. In fact, Airtime Rewards’ survey finds that 18% of them feel that they receive too many advertising emails from brands and other websites and that social gives them a better insight into what deals are available.

With consumers routinely now blocking anyone they consider to be spamming them by email – and with retailers needing a stronger marketing focus to target their desired audience effectively – sellers are turning to social media where engagement is higher. 

Data from Salesforce around 2022’s Black Friday finds that social media controlled almost 10% of black Friday referrals, and this had increased by 20% since the year before. 

According to fashion experts at Boohoo social media influencers are having a profound impact on what is popular. Currently, fashion-forward streetwear is flooding social media, ranking trainers as the most searched for deal over all of the UK this year. The prices of trending trainers can range from £60 to £150 on average, so black Friday is the opportune moment to get them reduced and of good quality. #TrendingVsStyling is also very popular this year, resulting in watches being third in the UK Black Friday deal search bar. 

Christmas jumpers – second in the UK Black Friday searches – and suits for party season (ranking fourth) are also available in the deals. Things such as stocking fillers are perfect to be bought now while cheaper, however, the consumer is rushed to buy them before they run out of stock. 

Much of this is driven by ‘scalper’ and ‘grinch’ bots. Scalper bots are software designed to bulk-buy purchases at lightning-fast speed, resulting in retailers running out of stock. Grinch bots specifically target fashion and live events, with 58% of participants from the survey How are Bots Changing Buyer Behavior? published this week suspecting interference from grinch bots. This causes the consumer to buy these same goods being resold at inflated prices on a secondary website. 

Retailers are also at increased risk from cybercrime during the peak season.  According to Jack Bassett, assistant vice president for cyber and technology at leading independent insurance brokerage Lockton’s there are more than 30,000 targeted cyber attacks on websites across the globe every day. These attacks are becoming increasingly more frequent and elaborate – they are constantly being adapted to align with when profits and purchases are high. 

These attacks have a direct correlation to peak sale periods and a financial motive – with 98% of recorded incidents involving financial motivation. The cyber criminals cause immense financial chaos and typically involve privacy breaches alongside losses from business interruptions. The criminals intend to capitalise on the most profitable weekend of the year. So businesses should consider hiring a specialist on cyber protection at this crucial time of profits. 

He says: “According to Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations report, 98% of 629 incidents in the retail sector involved a financial motive. As such, more than ever, these types of criminals are able to create major financial chaos and often time their attacks to coincide with peak sales periods to increase the threat. Consequences of cyber-attacks will vary according to the nature of the incident, but will typically involve privacy breaches as well as business interruption losses.”

Bassett concludes: “As a result, cyber criminals will undoubtedly be looking to capitalise on the record levels of spending set to take place across the biggest retail weekend of the year. If they haven’t already, therefore, businesses will need to begin thinking about obtaining sufficient, specialist cyber cover to protect themselves from these reputational and financial risks. At a time when the average cost of a data breach in the retail industry is $3.28 million, this time of year is the most vital for final Black Friday preparations, and retailers shouldn’t overlook this element.”

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