It’s Black Friday – I’m in love

ert black friday banner

With nearly seven out of 10 retailers (68.9 per cent) expecting Black Friday to become more popular over the coming years in the UK and Ireland, it is likely to remain an important retail event for the foreseeable future.

Cast your mind back to the Armageddon-like scenes of 2014 where people literally fought to secure a bargain and, in some cases, bargains they didn’t want or need.

From a brand perspective, retailer or product, how can you tame Black Friday to continue driving excitement while maintaining a positive customer experience?

The fact is that Black Friday is good for all retailers, irrespective of whether you take part or not. Statistics have shown that UK retail footfall year on year for Black Friday 2014 had an increase of 9.8 per cent overall. When broken down into locations, the high street saw a 7.2 per cent rise, shopping centres an 11.3 per cent rise and retail parks a 14.4 per cent rise. This demonstrates an increase in opportunities to sell not only deals, but also stock items.

Advertise your offers in advance and consider a “by invitation only” VIP Black Friday event for your customer database.

Looking online, use social media and your website to pull customers in-store. Local advertising and banners can help your store stand out from the rest, creating an event to enhance the customer experience and drive excitement.

It’s obvious that you need to make sure you have sufficient stock, perhaps also implement a ticketing system, as people who really want an offer won’t mind waiting if it means they get it without the risk of a scuffle. Also, consider your non-bargain-hunters who may just want to shop – the hordes will only discourage your average shopper.

Place bulk-stack deals near the doors, avoiding obvious security risks, and encourage a flow through your store.

Keep the store busy with offers located in prime positions, supported by staff on hand to carry the item to the till or at least make customers aware of the offer to help shift those boxes. Link sales to other items – while a big-screen TV may be appealing, it still needs an HDMI cable and you’re more likely to make that connection sale if it’s also on offer. Better to attach than not.

Your online sales shouldn’t be excluded – 30 per cent of survey respondents plan to buy online during Black Friday 2015, up from the eight per cent who purchased online in 2014.

Still, consider delivery charges, which can negate any profit made for both you and your customer. One key thing to consider is whether your website can keep up with the pressure of increased traffic. In 2014, 12 per cent of shoppers experienced technical issues when purchasing goods online during the rush. If you are planning to run important deals online, preparing your site to handle large numbers of users will prevent lost sales and angry customers.

Big-box retailers and grocers alike court the publicity and will create PR hubs that achieve those sensationalist, headline-grabbing TV images. It’s therefore important to note that if you put on a Black Friday promotion, it isn’t necessarily going to turn into a bloodbath. However, the increase in footfall and sales is evident but, just in case, do make sure you can still sell on the stock after the event.

Finally, how can your brands help support your promotion or even your event? In crowded categories, Black Friday is an opportunity for many brands to gain distribution and market share through selling end-of-line products. For electrical products, GfK measured a value growth rate year on year of 24 per cent and, not surprisingly, 59 per cent week on week. When broken down by category, Black Friday 2014 average sales increased significantly compared with the week before, with mobile sales up 129 per cent, more notably TV was up 103 per cent and audio up 157 per cent.

This clearly identifies the opportunity for electrical retailers with careful selection of products and brands within your core lines. Working in partnership to leverage sales could work to create a more intelligent and rewarding Black Friday experience for retailers, brands and most importantly consumers.

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