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It’s Black Friday – SOS!

The noise.  The growling.  The frantic, panicked dash through aggressive, apparently catatonic crowds.  No, it’s not a scene from The Walking Dead.

Black Friday is upon us again.

But what actually is it and what impact does it have on retailers and other businesses?  Is it an irritating black blotch on our calendars, where retailers dupe their customers into thinking consumables are cheaper than they are and where the same duped customers vary from mildly to extremely mental in their quest to get the limited time offer / bargain?  Or is it in fact a necessary event that boosts profits, the economy and allows us to buy those items we crave at a price we’ll be satisfied about afterwards?

In the States 30% of annual sales happen during this timeframe.  That’s right, 30%.  In the UK last year, despite the impending doom of Brexit, sales also rose thanks to this imported phenomenon.  So the impact on the economy can’t be underestimated.  But what about us?  Surprising thought it may seem, most retailers aren’t out to get shoppers.  Black Friday is an opportunity for businesses to flog the stock that’s taking up space in their stores / storage units and preventing them from buying in new stock; it’s a chance to improve traffic and sales volumes; retailers also gain new customers and incremental sales from those additional items bought by customers who have money burning a hole in their pocket.  There are of course negatives to Black Friday, chief of which is that, in a saturated market, competition to provide the biggest bargain in the most innovative way is fierce, else businesses stand to take a hit on their margins and lose out on the potential benefits of this consumer-focused holiday.  So what are businesses doing to stay ahead of the game and maximise the benefits?

Well, quite a bit.

As can be expected, with more and more people choosing to shop online rather than in bricks and mortar stores, online traffic during the discount period is massive.  With supercharged traffic comes the opportunity to hyper-personalise the shopping experience both during Black Friday and beyond.  Tech companies, such as the Canadian start up Drop, are using the event to power their app for instance, which rewards users with loyalty points for shopping at their favourite retailers such as Amazon, Nike and Starbucks.  They then use the acquired data points, which include past purchases, location and social media interactions, to predict consumer behaviour and tailor the offers to the individual customer.  In return, users can exchange the acquired loyalty points for gift vouchers to use with the retailers they select.  Such innovation is becoming more and more paramount for businesses to understand their customers better and therefore cater to their needs.

On the high street and across shopping centres, footfall traffic during the event is also crucial. Apart from higher volumes of customers coming through the door which organically generates sales, higher footfall also has an impact on customer acquisition for the future.  If retailers successfully sell their discounted products during the Black Friday event, keeping the customer happy at all times, they can then potentially rely on the same customers returning to purchase further goods come Christmas, for instance.  In the same vein, as people shop with intent during this time more customers could also mean more full price sales.  The hook of a discounted item can motivate them to spend more money in store rather than go elsewhere.  This is why traffic manipulation, both online and in store, has to be taken full advantage of and savvy businesses are fully aware of the rewards it can reap.  More traffic however means more queuing, more frustration and more potentially unhappy customers.  Enter businesses like Macro, who have launched the Payment Blade mobile app which allows customers to pay for their shopping whilst in the queue or use it for their online click and collect drive thru service.  To deal with the anticipated footfall, some retailers are also starting Black Friday on Monday (or even earlier), to try and spread the volumes of customers across the week rather than pack them in, sardines style, on one day.  Happy times.

To stand out from the crowd, retailers are also looking into releasing tech products especially in time for Black Friday, creating a flurry of excitement from their customers who then need to be quick to snag the bargain introduction price before it goes up to its RRP after the event.

Black Friday is without a doubt an event worth taking note of.  In our current economy, where  more and more retailers are closing their doors for good, every opportunity to generate sales has to be harnessed to its full potential.  And guess what all of the innovative solutions we’ve chatted through (up there) require in order for customers to actually get on board with them?  Free guest wifi.  That’s right, see what we did there?  So why not get in touch with us and see how we can help you maximise the sales potential of your business and transform your zombies into engaged consumers?

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