Black Friday 2015: What’s in store?

Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days of the year and it’s now less than six months away.

Granby Joanne VareyBy Joanne Varey, managing director, Granby Marketing Services.

Over recent years the UK has followed in the footsteps of its American cousins and tackled the Black Friday phenomenon head on. For consumers Black Friday is all about securing a sweet deal just in time for Christmas, but for retailers it’s a chance to add more loyal customers to the pot, clear old product lines and the £810m spent by savvy shoppers can’t be bad for increased ROI either!

Retailers are facing increasing competition both on and offline during Black Friday with 17 per cent of total online Christmas sales being made in the week commencing 23rd November. But in order to succeed retailers need to get it right!

Black Friday 2014 lead many retailers into despair due to unpredicted logistical issues which were experienced due to a huge spike in activity, which meant retailers such as M&S were forced to withdraw its next-day in-store delivery service and deliveries to customers’ homes were delayed by up to two weeks.

It’s easy to reflect and criticise but this was a learning curve for retailers with many lessons learnt for planning Black Friday 2015.

So how can retailers come out on top this year? Firstly working with and preparing your fulfilment network is crucial, they’re an important piece of the puzzle, so ensuring your fulfilment partner has the flexibility to scale up their solutions including warehousing, customer service and management systems to around 3 times the usual level provided will stand you in good stead for fulfilling your customers Black Friday orders on time.

Forecasting your Black Friday activity is one of the most important lessons learnt from 2014, whether it’s delivery, contact centre requirements, technical issues or sales volumes (which were 30% above expected in 2014), planning ahead can minimise the risk of your Black Friday promotions not delighting the customer. Even though the consumer is getting a ‘bargain’ you still have to delight them at every touchpoint to create the positive brand experience they expect – after all 48% of consumers say that it’s when they make their first purchase that is the most critical time to gain their loyalty.

There is no doubt 99% of retailers will be taking part in the Black Friday bonanza so you have to stand out from the crowd if you want to get noticed. Be cleaver with your marketing strategy and target your different audiences with personalised offers – you need to catch their attention during the busiest buying event of the year, it’s always going to be hard work. But, you can make it that slight bit easier on yourself by offering restricted delivery options, managing your consumer expectations from the beginning, involve your supplier early, have a backup plan, maximise paid search and most importantly don’t forget about customer support. Your customer service agents, whether your contact centre is internal or outsourced, have to be prepared to tackle Black Friday head on; scenario planning, agent training, scaling up the work force – you name it, you need to plan it. The success of Black Friday has even led retailer Amazon to create a promotional event of their own - ‘Prime Day’ which was set to rival Black Friday itself. But what this really shows is the impact events such as these have on society and consumer spending. With that in mind it’s even more crucial retailers get it right this November - Black Friday is defiantly here to stay!