'Retailers must prepare for Black Friday 2015 - the UK's first £1bn online shopping day'

Almost a third of shoppers are planning to buy online on November 27th
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It's predicted that Black Friday 2015 (November 27th) will be the UK's very first £1 billion online shopping day, and Fujitsu is offering retailers advice to help them prepare.

Global e-commerce consultant Salmon has made the prediction, having published The Black Friday and Peak Trading Ecommerce Operations Playbook’, containing recommendations for online retailers.

According to a survey by eDigitalResearch, four times as many UK shoppers plan to buy online during this year’s Black Friday event than in 2014.

The study of of 6,000 online shoppers in June revealed that while only eight per cent of those surveyed made online purchases on Black Friday in 2014, 30 per cent plan to buy on Black Friday 2015.

The UK’s association for online retailers, IMRG, estimate £810 million was spent on Black Friday in 2014, set to rise to £1 billion this year.

Salmon’s experts also expect demand to surge before Friday November 27th with shoppers increasingly savvy to retailers listing sale items early.

The consultant is urging retailers to estimate volume of orders and site visitors, undergo capacity testing in advance, communicate a full marketing plan across the business, agree operational roles and responsibilities and develop contingencies for volume surges.

Glen Burson, CTO at Salmon, commented: “Black Friday 2014 was bigger than any UK retailer could have anticipated and whilst they forecasted a spike on the peak trading day, many back-end systems weren’t ready to cope with this new phenomenon. This caused websites to crash, orders to be lost and other similar issues.

"With three months to go, retailers need to address their online operations as a priority in a bid to avoid site outages, slow browsing and queuing; anything which could damage the customer experience and results in lost sales.”

Fujitsu is also offering retailers advice.

Rupal Karia, MD for Retail and Hospitality at Fujitsu UK and Ireland, added: "The prediction that this year’s Black Friday will see the UK’s first £1 billion online shopping day highlights both the huge sales opportunity for retailers, but also high volume of traffic retailers are set to face.

"With the crowding that we saw on last year’s Black Friday, retailers need to look at how the different channels can play their part in negating this, and deliver a true customer experience even at this time of heightened activity. To prepare themselves for this, retailers need to ensure that both the online and in-store are united.

"Services such as click and collect will play an important role bringing digital and brick and mortar together, and therefore retailers need to ensure that they keep the front and back ends aligned to create a seamless experience on the day.

“With an ever-increasing amount of channels, it is very important that retailers take an integrated approach and deliver the same experience for customers, regardless of whether they will be making purchases on a device or in-store.

"Most consumers will be looking to shop with retailers who can provide the best experience possible. Only by putting consumers at the heart of the business, personalising the shopping experience and simplifying the buying process, retailers can hope to win the battle for consumers’ hearts – whether that’s in-store or online.”

Andrew Starkey, Head of E-logistics at IMRG, also advised at a recent conference: “The huge surge in demand on Black Friday 2014 splits opinion, but the impact of it is so vast that it affects all retailers whether they run campaigns or not. The key points for industry to address are around how to smooth out the spike – even spreading it over a few days would make a massive difference.”

In other news, data from Juniper Research has revealed that retailers seeking to capitalise on IoT (Internet of Things) technologies will spend an estimated $2.5 billion in hardware and installation costs, nearly a fourfold increase over this year’s estimated $670 million spend.

For more information on how Black Friday is affecting the UK PC/tech channel in particular, check out PCR's special feature here.

Image source: Shutterstock

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