Well, was it worth the hype? Black Friday is over for another year and early results are in, with what looks like a clear victory for online retail. It’s estimated that £1.4bn was spent over the Black Friday event this year, an increase of 11.7% since last year – most of which was spent online.
So, what was different this year that made people want to stay indoors and shop online instead? Are we getting fed up of queuing up on a cold, dark November morning, or is it the prospect of getting trampled on that is putting people off? Either way, high street footfall was down over 4% this year and British humour was at its best, with a video doing the rounds over social media of a lone shopper waiting eagerly as Currys PC World on Oxford Street opened their doors; a scene that was the complete opposite to what was unfolding on the other side of the Atlantic.
Online vs Offline
Although more popular, online retail wasn’t the seamless experience as it should have been, with many popular websites crashing under the increased demand, potentially causing damage to the reputation of their brands, customer confidence and ultimately lost revenue.
Whilst most people opted to shop online, there were plenty of consumers willing to take advantage of various delivery and collection options. Click and Collect remains a popular choice, ensuring that people are still prepared to brave the high street, just on their own terms.
One of the UK’s best multi-channel retailers John Lewis saw sales during the Black Friday week increase over 7%, both online and in store. Recently the department store has heavily invested in making customer experiences enjoyable and frictionless; tapping into the digital trends with in store information kiosks, tablets to extend digital aisles and increase transactions, whilst offering customers the convenience of multiple delivery options. Although at the forefront of multi-channel retail, John Lewis still experienced website issues on Black Friday due to demand, which is something that they and fellow retailers need to consider when preparing for future sales events.
What does this tell retailers about Christmas shopping trends?
Beauty and home technology were amongst the most popular deals over the Black Friday weekend, which verifies research from Barclays that retailers are expecting these product categories to be a popular Christmas shopping trend and exceed their usual growth.
Gift cards have long been a staple of Christmas presents, with research suggesting that the market is worth approximately £6bn per year in the UK alone and those redeeming their gift cards end up spending an average of 55% extra of the value. Gift cards are a great marketing tool that drives new and existing customers in store and online, helping to retain loyalty. It is important that UK retailers implement a gift card module to their retail system that allows customers to purchase and redeem cards across all channels.
Preparation is essential
Multi-channel retail is key to survival, not just for December but throughout 2018 and beyond, with this year, UK retailers expecting consumer Christmas shopping revenue to increase up to 30% across all online channels.
Barclays research has also highlighted that logistical and IT failures are a major concern amongst retailers, which is why reviewing retail systems well in advance of the busy Christmas period is crucial to every retailer’s strategy and neglecting to prepare for peak times can result in lost revenue.
Intelligent Cloud based systems are leading the trend for enabling multi-channel, providing retailers with a complete, scalable and secure solution that can be accessed at any time, in any place. If you found yourself lagging this Black Friday, why not treat your business to a new retail system this Christmas? You may just surprise yourself.
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Rachel is passionate about retail and the ever-changing retail technology environment, with a keen eye for upcoming retail trends that are set to shake up the sector. She started her career as an intern at a national charity and has progressed rapidly into her current role with Cybertill.
Rachel has a Masters Degree in Digital Marketing from Liverpool John Moores University. I think it’s fair to say she knows her stuff!