Since 1932, Black Friday has been renowned as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. The discount day originates from the U.S., however, the Black Friday shopping phenomenon has become embedded in the UK marketplace. Not only does Black Friday give shoppers tantalising deals, it’s also a crucial shopping trend for the economy, with around 30% of annual retail sales occurring between Black Friday and Christmas.
In the United Kingdom, Black Friday is largely regarded as an online event, with UK online sales up by 36% year on year to £1.1 billion on Black Friday last year. Traditional brick and mortar stores also participate in the sales day, however, online purchasing methods lead the way – with Black Friday becoming the biggest day for online retailers, and eCommerce giant Amazon reporting the sale of 7.4 million items last year, equating to 86 items per second.
The statistics can be overwhelming, and with 151 million shoppers scouring the internet in search of the best deals, retailers need to ensure a robust eCommerce strategy is in place. This article will cover some points for consideration ahead of this year’s Black Friday sale, to support peak planning.
Test your eCommerce & mCommerce systems vigorously
This seems an obvious place to start, however during the Black Friday rush of 2015 at least 15 major retailers suffered website issues, according to web monitoring firm Traffic Defender. Experiencing website downtime during the sale mayhem can lead to a major dent in revenue, with John Lewis reporting that just one minute of website downtime would cost it £75,000 in lost sales.
Forecasting a prediction of your website traffic from Black Friday through to Cyber Monday and researching into the typical peak times in purchasing can help equip your in-house website team with vital details to guarantee that your website will be able to handle the influx of traffic, with careful monitoring or in major circumstance an additional server.
With more users than ever – 32% reported in 2014 – completing purchases using a mobile device, your mCommerce website or application should be equally as durable and less susceptible to downtime. If you currently lack a mobile strategy within your business, this beginners’ guide will assist in curating a positive mobile experience for end-users.
Tip: Implementing a contingency plan can help combat website issues, so consider adding functionalities such as a queuing system for customers to help control the surge of visits and minimise the chance of the website crashing.
Have a crisis plan, just in case
eCommerce websites have a multitude of interdependencies, such as functioning check-out and payment options. Usually these services are out of the merchant’s hands, instead being the responsibility of a cloud provider. If this external provider falters under the influx of traffic, it will affect the website experience, and ultimately cause issues for the merchant. Although these concerns are outside the in-house realm for a retailer, it’s important to ensure there is a planned response to react to these potential issues.
If your company does not already have a crisis plan in place, or you wish to develop one more specifically around the potential issues Black Friday provides, consider the following points:
- If you experience website issues or downtime, how will you communicate this with the public? This may be over social media, such as live-Tweeting the fix stages.
- What will be expected of your in-house team to manage the situation?
- Ensure your customer service team is briefed on how to handle inbound phone calls and / or emails.
Stagger marketing activities and offerings
It can be beneficial to stagger sales offerings, feeding consumers sales deals throughout the week in the lead up to Black Friday, rather than unveiling one huge ‘bonanza’. By sending out promotional emails and social media posts throughout the week, it gives users a gradual lead up to the Black Friday weekend, and can also help your in-house team analyse and predict the expected visits during peak shopping times from Black Friday to Cyber Monday.
Black Friday offers an ample opportunity for retailers to push masses of stock to ravenous consumers who are, more than ever, searching for the best online purchase opportunities. Not participating in the Black Friday sales can have a negative repercussion on revenue, with ASDA suffering its worst quarterly sales ever when it opted not to participate in Black Friday sales.
Read our report on last year’s Black Friday & Cyber Monday performance here and let us know how your company prepares for the sales day by commenting below or Tweeting us – @mporiumgroup