Our figures show that Black Friday’s order volume was 16.5 per cent higher than last year and 19 per cent higher in terms of revenue. Cyber Monday’s orders were also up by 5.5 percent and 21 per cent more revenue was taken. It also seems like retailers shifted activity to start earlier and last longer essentially to avoid the frenzy of last year’s event which led to logistics issues and many websites crashing under the weight of activity. The figures support this as the Black Friday Eve order volume was 16.5 per cent higher than last year and 19 per cent higher in terms of revenue.
After the issues that arose on the back of last year’s event, it was also quite refreshing to see that retailers had taken time assess the situation and address necessary issues. We were encouraged to see that retailers were very particular about making the end to end sale process of this year’s event a success. They listened to us about promotional activity and were receptive to the changes needed to support the event.
There were a few other things that we observed during this year’s event that we think retailers should be mindful of for the day-to-day management of their activities and also for better management of busy shopping days.
- Invest in agile and scalable solutions – Retailers need to invest to ensure that their solutions provide the agility to support the increased activity triggered across their business, from product footfall and page views to fulfilment. If last year’s Black Friday activity taught us anything, it was that the size of the spike is not easily predicted and retailers who do not plan ahead to adequately cope risk losing out on more than just sales. It is no longer an infrastructure problem, but one that touches all aspects of retail. Brand equity and customer satisfaction are also at stake and retailers need to be aware of the role that ecommerce and effective advanced planning can play in delivering on the brand promise.
- The online experience is only the beginning – An inability to fulfil customer orders is another theme from last year’s Black Friday that retailers need to appropriately plan for this year. It would be detrimental to take customers through the shopping process, from browsing to checkout, only to fail at the point of delivery. Retailers cannot afford this sort of failure again. Otherwise, they risk losing out beyond these busy shopping periods.
- The future of retail is joined-up - Customers want to be able to shop where they want, when they want and how they want, and don’t want to be limited by the challenges of these busy peak shopping periods. With the rise of ecommerce, customers expect instant orders and immediate fulfilment. To deliver this, retailers need to invest in technology that provides a joined-up view of customer interaction across every channel. Through this, retailers can use information customers have volunteered across various channels to influence their experience and personalise the customer journey.
- Spread activity to ease workload – statistics from this year’s event also suggested that retailers shifted their activity to start earlier and last longer. Reports also suggest that many retailers continued their activity after the flagship days were over. Busy shopping days can be tricky to manage but retailers can make the process a bit easier by spreading the burden on their infrastructure.
- Focus on mobile – Convenience is key to customer satisfaction and building loyalty, and mobile offers this better than any other channel. It is important that retailers invest appropriately and take note of the strong growth in transactions on mobile devices. Figures from this year’s event suggest that the average split of transactions by device was mobile: 15 per cent (from 10 per cent in 2014), tablet: 32 per cent (from 31 per cent) and desktop: 53 per cent (from 60 per cent). For retailers to tap into this goldmine, a mobile-responsive website should be a basic requirement. Retailers that fail to make these provisions risk losing out on sales and opportunities to build loyalties.