Last year on Black Friday, US and UK online retailers alike saw their traffic increase 220%
over any other day. In-store footfall in the US also jumped 65%
. Regardless of your feelings towards it, Black Friday has been firmly assimilated into our cultural mainstream. With no legacy in most European markets predating recent years, we take a closer look at the dynamics that are fuelling this annual feeding frenzy and ask, what developments can we expect to see this year?
Black Friday satisfies the key criteria of a ‘Big Idea’. Rich in customer benefit, deeply insightful, scalable and with its very own catchy name. It has effectively wiped the floor with what we once knew as ‘The January Sales’, by providing compelling discounts pre-Christmas, when consumers have the money and appetite to spend, whilst also creating the sense of urgency to ‘buy now’. Throw in the mass digital enablement of today’s consumer and boom, we’ve got lift off.
Each year it delivers on this big idea with increasingly personalised or convenient opportunities and we see consumer expectations rise to match. So, what can we expect to see this Black Friday to satisfy them?
Dare to Differentiate: The Need for Experiential Shopping
Seven years ago, Amazon brought Black Friday to the UK. This year, they are opening a four day pop-up for Black Friday in London
. They are a company renowned for providing their consumers with seamless omni-channel services, from their one-click buy button to in-home Dash buttons. Their pop-up further articulates their understanding of their consumers’ needs and growing expectations in the omni-channel world. With the likes of ASOS overtaking Marks and Spencers earlier this year for market value, the dynamics of the retail and e-tail model is changing. Brick-and-mortar outlets increasingly require a more ‘experience’ focused lens in order to compete, aligning with the global increase of experiential marketing spend
. Apple is a brand who perfectly captures this, creating engaging in-store experiences for their consumers by abiding to the idea that retail needs to be 80% experience and 20% shopping
Great Expectations: Optimizing the End-to-End Experience
Omni-channel shoppers are a fickle breed. Their expectations are constantly benchmarked against best in class from ordering through to delivery. Black Friday is now the biggest day in ecommerce in the UK
, overtaking December 26th. The slightest performance errors can ripple into massive losses, so seamless UX needs to be a top priority. Amazon have found that every additional 100 milliseconds of load time
meant an approximate 1% reduction of sales. While by the nature of discounting, consumer patience may be more forgiving, the need for seamless performance standards throughout Black Friday weekend is critical.
The expectations surrounding Black Friday will be even higher with the introduction of several recent services enhancing online shopping experiences. An Post’s introduction of AddressPal will enable Irish users to make purchases this Black Friday from UK and US
that don’t typically deliver to Ireland. Increasing locations for Parcel Motel nationwide will provide shoppers with temporary storage for their online deliveries. Finally, the controversial launch of Amazon’s Key feature
last month will soon allow for in-home deliveries through the installation of a remote key access, may show a vision for things to come.
Understand and Anticipate the Omni-Channel Shopper Audience
Black Friday has moved far away from its original roots and undoubtedly retailers on this side of the pond are capitalising on its evolution in new and engaging ways. Beyond just the weekend itself, it demonstrates a wider change in the retail landscape. The opportunity now lies with meeting the ever-increasing expectations of the omni-channel shopper by continuing to enhance the online ordering process and creating more engaging in-store experiences.
Niamh Murphy is a strategist at Rothco