Megan Watts - Digital Marketing Executive

Megan Watts

26th November 2019

The Retailer’s Ultimate Guide To Black Friday Success

Come November 29th, Black Friday will undoubtedly produce a frenzy of shoppers out of the woodwork with a variety of major discounts on technology, fashion, homeware and so much more from all major retailers. This will be followed by Cyber Monday on December 2nd, and all of this is just in time for the Christmas shopping season. But the big questions are, which companies thrived last year and are primed and ready for this year? And what should other retailers be learning from them? 

 

When Do Black Friday Sales Actually Start?


Reports show that UK online shoppers spent £1.49 billion on Black Friday in 2018. Due to this, you can expect that this year major retailers will cut prices on a large selection of items to keep up with the unstoppable force of Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2019, the highlight of every British bargain-hunter's calendar. 


Although it's not officially linked to Christmas, there is an emphasis on buying your Christmas presents on Black Friday, to get more for your money. Research shows that 29% of Britons plan to purchase their Christmas gifts in November. Despite the official date of Black Friday being November 29th, many retailers start their price cuts from mid-November to stay ahead of competitors, so there are bargains to be had throughout the month. 


Namely, on November 10th, Amazon announced that Black Friday 2019 would be its biggest Black Friday ever. Their annual event is running throughout the week before the 29th November offering secret 'Deals of the Day' and 'Lightning Deals' to keep shoppers on their toes and trawling their site even before the official Black Friday date.  

What About Cyber Monday? 


Cyber Monday is normally not quite as successful or lucrative for retailers. It used to be the day that all the online sales took place after Black Friday, which was originally a day of instore discounts. But, as the world of ecommerce has expanded and developed, many of the best Black Friday deals are now online from the very start of the sales period anyway.


However, it is important to note that there will still be great deals to be had - if anyone misses out on the Black Friday weekend of sales, Cyber Monday is the perfect opportunity for shoppers to get one last chance to bag a bargain. 


Furthermore, retail giants such as Amazon typically save a few big bargains for Cyber Monday and an increasing number of retailers take site-wide discounts even lower, especially if they haven't sold all the stock they expected to.

 

Instore or Online? 


The general consensus last year seemed to be that consumers were increasingly abandoning bricks-and-mortar retailers in search of online bargains. 


Quite simply, consumers can buy their favourite goods online whenever they want to, instead of heading to crowded high streets and facing limited stock and a chaotic retail service experience. Which is why online shopping seems to be preferred by consumers. Furthermore, digital retailers gain a head start. Because Black Friday officially starts at midnight on Thursday 28th, consumers can purchase goods online immediately and not have to wait for high street stores to open in the morning. There has been a shift in retail culture; consumers go online to buy their bargains as it is more flexible than the high street can ever hope to be.


There are serious savings to be had whether you are ready to brave the high street or shop from your sofa. This means that retailers need to be prepared for an abundance of avid bargain hunters on the run-up to Christmas. 

Black Friday 2019 – Top Retailers Partaking


While Black Friday used to be almost exclusively centred around tech, most major retailers across a plethora of sectors will take part in Black Friday/Cyber Monday in some way. Here are the most renowned retailers that take part to look out for and learn from: 

 

  • Amazon (online) – The best for own-brand products, electronics and a range of tech and gaming items. As you are bound to know, Amazon is the big retailer that shoppers look to. The retail giant is practically synonymous with Black Friday as it not only brought Black Friday to the UK, but it offers the widest range of deals in the widest range of categories. Each day of its Black Friday sales period starts with a handful of checkout-worthy new deals, and thousands of products are discounted across all categories throughout.
  • Asos (online) – Asos will be offering discounts on fashion, footwear and beauty across a huge range of popular brands. 
  • Argos (instore and online) – Argos is renowned for providing discounted toys, tech and electronics like laptops, smart TVs and kitchen appliances.
  • John Lewis (instore and online) – John Lewis is price matching rivals on popular tech, home and fashion lines. 
  • Very (online) – As a cross-category retailer, you can expect a wide variety of products discounted, ranging from furniture to electrical appliances, as well as toys, computer games and fashion. 
  • Next (instore and online) – Clothes and homeware are the popular buys from Next.
  • Boots (instore and online) – Everyone loves multi-buys at Christmas from Boots. Beauty, make up, skincare and personal electricals will be the discounted areas. 
  • GAME (instore and online) – A great opportunity to get the latest PS4 and XBOX console bundles.
  • Currys PC World (instore and online) – Electrical appliances and smart home devices are heavily reduced in price. Much like John Lewis, they offer a price match guarantee against their competitors.  
  • Tesco (instore and online) – general groceries, popular electrical appliances and household brands are often offered at a reduced price. 

Where Have Retailers Previously Gone Wrong? 


The main issue for many retailers regarding Black Friday, is not realising that Black Friday and the weeks surrounding it are anticipated globally, as it is the biggest shopping event of the year. 


Lack of preparation has been the main downfall for some retail giants and is definitely something that should be learned from for retailers preparing for the big day. 


Walmart, Lululemon, J. Crew and JD Sports are just a few examples of retailers that have previously not been prepared for the eruption of early online sales which resulted in technical difficulties throughout the Black Friday weekend. To put the level of destruction this caused into perspective, in 2018, Walmart's technical issues online affected roughly 3.6 million shoppers, with online tech problems lasting about 150 minutes. Reports suggested that this ended up costing the retailer an estimated $9 million in lost sales. Not having the proper website infrastructure to cope with the surge of website traffic for retailers is the one, detrimental mistake that at least one retailer always gets caught out by. 

Should You Offer Early Deals To Consumers? 


The influx of a ‘Why Wait?’ attitude has hit consumers. 


Currys offers 'Why Wait?' pre-Black Friday deals cutting prices on select pieces of tech, Amazon starts its sales a week early and many other retailers are promoting pre-Black Friday deals. 


Although these great offers and price reductions are out there, many ignore pre-Black Friday deals, assuming they'll all be beaten during the Black Friday weekend. However, by creating early sales, retailers can be clearing stock of items they won't put on sale during Black Friday, in order to make room in warehouses for items they expect to be top sellers during the Black Friday weekend. 


A prime example of an online retailer that is attempting to lengthen the Black Friday sale period and implement the ‘why wait?’ mentality is Boohoo. Their homepage provides no specific details about what discounts will come, but instead, and quite crucially, it includes an email sign-up form with the intention to update customers on the best deals as and when they happen. 

 

Boohoo Black Friday Sale

 

This is a tactical way to stagger sales consistently across November, as well as reducing pressure on the day of Black Friday itself. Retailers that offer deals earlier aim to encourage consumers to continuously spend rather than limit themselves to one weekend. And with many retailers previously suffering from tech issues, encouraging consumers to buy early can also help to reduce pressure on IT teams that are trying to prevent a dreaded website crash on the big day.

 

How To Implement A ‘Winning’ Black Friday Strategy

 

  • Is Your Website Ready? 

Speed is vital. Over half of consumers accessing a site from a mobile device will leave if the site takes more than three seconds to load. This is a sure sign that online infrastructure needs to be solid for retailers’ websites to accommodate the greater traffic surges that Black Friday brings. If customers have to wait for long to make purchases, they will go to other websites with better loading speeds and spend elsewhere. 

  • It Isn’t Just A 24 Hour Period

Black Friday is no longer a single day – it is at the very least a 4-day weekend of great discounts and for others practically a month of offering exclusive and enticing deals to customers. Online retailers have realised that shoppers are no longer prepared to wait; they want those fantastic deals now. And if you don’t start your sales early, your marketing and promotion must stand out and give people a good reason to be on your website at midnight on November 28th waiting to spend their money.

  • Don’t Just Push High-Priced Products

You don’t just need to be selling high-priced products to gain revenue on big spending days. Inexpensive products still make great Christmas presents, and can entice holiday shoppers into look at pricier gifts too. You also have a better chance of converting new customers who don’t know and trust you yet. 

  • Loyalty 

Thinking about your existing customers is a great way to incentivise sales. Amazon Prime members are treated to bonus offers, including two-day shipping, 20% off of new video game releases and the option to shop thousands of ‘Lightning Deals’ 30 minutes before regular customers. Furthermore, sending early-bird emails to existing customers with added promotion will make them feel valued, keep them informed and hopefully make them want to purchase goods. 

  • Communicate With Your Customers

Showing that you understand your target market’s interests by shaping your campaigns around them and adding messenger, live chat or chat bots to your channels will help ensure your customer service is quick, efficient and helpful for potential shoppers as well as helping to dissolve any doubt about big purchases.

  • Position Yourself As An Expert in Your Niche

Black Friday isn’t just about making loads of sales in one day – as a brand you need to rise above the competition and use the biggest shopping days of the year to drive long-term growth. As being an expert in your sector contributes to how consumers feel about your business and builds trust significantly, showcasing your knowledge to customers through your marketing and promotion is a great way to draw them in and encourage them to choose your products over another retailer’s. 

  • Preparation Is Key

Retail giants often take an entire year to prepare for Black Friday. You can’t abandon the art of planning and strategising to address this massive source of potential revenue. Running tests on your site and ensuring you have more than enough stock are also crucial parts of the planning process. Every step of the processes that get products online and instore needs to be audited, tested and optimised.

  • Don’t Dive in Alone

As a retailer, you cannot afford to underestimate the impact that Black Friday can have on your business. 


Expert advice is always at hand at SilverDisc. Call us on 01536 316100 or contact us online.

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