This Friday (November 27th), High Street stores, online retailers and hordes of consumers will be bracing themselves for one of the most intense shopping events of the year – Black Friday.
So how can retailers prepare their stores – as well as their full time and seasonal staff – for the event?
And with British consumers expected to spend £12,384 every second online during Black Friday, how can etailers ensure their sites will run smoothly throughout the mayhem?
Here we put together all the helpful advice we’ve gathered from experts in the IT, tech and retail channel to help retailers and etailers make the most of Black Friday and come out the other side in one piece.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX WITH YOUR DEALS
Over half of retailers (54 per cent) are scrapping time-bound offers this Black Friday to discourage shoppers from lurking on websites and hitting ‘refresh’ every few seconds as new deals are revealed, according to research commissioned by RetailMeNot.
PUSH ONLINE SALES TO AVOID CHAOS IN STORE
To get the most out of all channels, RetailMeNot found that retailers are pushing online sales. Eight out of ten (84 per cent) retailers have created dedicated Black Friday shopping pages, while three-quarters (78 per cent) are investing in extra bandwidth to prevent websites from ‘toppling over’ during peak times.
Giulio Montemagno, SVP and GM International at RetailMeNot, said: “Shoppers should expect a substantially different Black Friday this year.
“After underestimating demand in 2014, retailers are ‘throwing the kitchen sink’ at Black Friday to ensure that the shopping experience doesn’t falter. Retailers are pushing online sales, with dedicated Black Friday sites and greater investment in IT to ensure they can handle the hordes of shoppers.”
MAKE SURE YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICES TEAM IS ON FORM
"There is now a high demand for customer support when online shopping, according to our research,” said Julien Hervouet, CEO and founder of iAdvize.
“UK consumers want to be able to contact retailers via a variety of channels, ranging from email to live chat and phone. Many do not want to wait for a response of longer than a minute with nearly a third of shoppers abandoning an online purchase due to lack of support.
"In order for businesses and e-commerce sites to make use of the immense revenue opportunities that Black Friday offers them, they need to meet the expectations of new and existing customers and sufficient customer care forms an essential part of that."
MAKE SURE CUSTOMERS KNOW THERE MAY BE ORDER DELAYS
No retailer wants bad reviews. While you might make some extra money out of selling lots of bargains over Black Friday, if shoppers don’t realise their purchases may not arrive as quickly as usual, you could end up with some unhappy customers.
Over three-quarters (78 per cent) of retailers plan to allow additional time to deliver orders (of up to 4 – 5 days) to ease pressure on delivery firms, reports RetailMeNot, while nine out of ten (86 per cent) retailers are touting ‘click-and-collect’ services, with the additional benefit of driving customers in store.
“With Brits set to spend £2.2 billion online this weekend, including £966 million on Black Friday, retailers are keen to avoid over-stretching themselves at the cost of the shopping experience,” said RetailMeNot’s Giulio Montemagno. “We expect retailers to offer fewer time-bound deals and in-store sales, and take a more realistic approach to delivery.”
STRESS-TEST YOUR WEBSITE
Retailer websites will find themselves under lots of pressure as they face a huge surge in traffic. To be fully prepared, IT pros need to test the processes and response action before it happens.
“Doing scalable stress tests will see if sites can handle the surge in website hits and transactions online,” said Mav Turner, director at SolarWinds.
“There are a lot of tools which can help to do this, such as testing how the related systems respond when there is an overload so that if it does happen in real-time, it can be spotted easily.
“Ensure that the data is encrypted – if the site is attacked and the customer database is hacked, sufficiently encrypted data will be useless to the attackers.”
Ahead of Black Friday, new research from TrafficDefender has revealed that 86 per cent of consumers would rather queue to buy a product online than have a website crash.
Jeremy Gidlow, CEO of TrafficDefender’s parent brand, Intechnica, said: “Needless to say, besides the threat of losing out on millions of sales, it’s embarrassing for a retailer to have its website go down. Our recent research revealed that almost nine out of ten of consumers would rather queue to buy a product on a website than have the website completely crash.”
PCR will be covering all the Black Friday action. You can keep up to date with all the news in the dedicated Black Friday section of the site.
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