This year is set to be the end of a one-day Black Friday sales event, replaced by five days of online sales dubbed ‘Black FiveDay’.
Global ecommerce consultancy Salmon has advised retailers to start preparing for five days of peak trading in November.
The digital commerce expert predicts an extension to the traditional Black Friday rush with a record-breaking £5 billion spent online from Thursday 24th November through to Cyber Monday on the 28th.
Last year, despite the retail industry anticipating the Black Friday rush, digitally-led sales were even higher than predicted. In the US retailers saw a tipping point, as online sales outnumbered offline sales for the first time ever. In the UK, some retailers reportedly suffered website outages due to the high volumes of traffic, while on some sites customers sat in online waiting rooms.
This year the heightened shopping period is set to run from Thursday 24th November through to Cyber Monday on the 28th, and Salmon says retailers should begin planning their online operations during the peak period now.
"Retailers should think about peak trading as a crisis that they know will happen in advance. Preparation is vital, and retailers should already be considering their business and operational plans for the period,” said John Beechen, head of managed services at Salmon.
“Retailers must also consider contingency plans to respond to issues during the week. At Salmon, we run a cross-client peak operations centre throughout the period to monitor and detect issues before outages and fix problems in real-time. Retailers should be ready to take advantage of the heightened consumer interest during peak trading – and avoid long term damage to the brand through poor customer experience.”
Commenting on Salmon’s predictions for Black FiveDay, Juha Mattsson, CMO at Walkbase, said: “While digital-savvy shoppers are predicted to lead the way, retailers should not only start preparing for the digital rush but also thinking about how to convert additional sales in-store when customers collect their purchases.
“Black Friday will produce a huge spike in sales for many stores so it is also vital that retailers plan, hire additional staff and find extra ways to drive revenues. By preparing and understanding their data, retailers will be able to make their in-store experience as smart of their online.”
Fujitsu’s UK and Ireland MD of retail and hospitality Rupal Karia believes that the extended sales period can help retailers spread out their resources and hopefully stop their websites becoming overwhelmed by visitors in a 24 hour period.
“With Black Friday shopping spread over five days, retailers can capitalise even further by choosing to stagger their deals over the week. This will avoid focusing all of their resources into a single day and overwhelming their systems with online traffic.
He continued: “Retailers need to look at how their different channels can work together to deliver a truly excellent customer experience. Only by putting consumers at the heart of the business, personalising the shopping experience and simplifying the buying process, can retailers hope to win the battle for consumers’ hearts – whether that’s in-store or online.”
John Pincott, EMEA managing director at Kibo said last year some retailers struggled to meet the extra demand placed on stock management systems and therefore did not deliver the service promised.
“Click and collect will no doubt play an important role in meeting this demand because not only is it a popular channel for customers, but it also offers retails more control over the delivery of their goods and another opportunity to engage in the purchasing phase,” said Pincott.
“If we do see £5 billion spent online in just four days then it will be a major test for retailers and those that have embraced modern technologies will no doubt end up on top.”