The Black Friday Playbook
By Glen Burson, Chief Technology Officer, Salmon
Black Friday's surge in sales in November 2014 threw traditional British pre-Christmas shopping habits into disarray. Shoppers, lured to online retailers with significantly discounted fash promotions, spent an estimated £810m online in a single day - almost 50% more than industry experts had predicted. Three days later, the traditionally anticipated busiest online shopping day 'Cyber Monday' also saw a smaller but still significant upturn in sales.
The impact of this US phenomenon on deliveries and logistics for retailers in the UK has been well documented. The degree to which this afected retailers' online operations and what to anticipate in 2015 deserves further examination.
This guide ofers online retail operators insight into what to expect in 2015 and acts as a playbook to help plan and prepare for the busiest online trading period ever in the UK.
At Salmon we predict that in 2015 the frenzy of Black Friday, heightened by national press coverage, will lead to the first £1bn online shopping day in the UK.
We also believe that demand will start to surge before Friday 27th November as shoppers come online early to search for bargains.
What happens with online site operations
Whilst retailers anticipated a spike on the peak trading days, they weren't ready for this new phenomenon. Christmas shopping compressed into a much shorter period which focused around the two peak trading days of Black Friday (November 28th) and Cyber Monday (December 1st). This was fuelled by frenzied media activity, which consequently put a major strain on retailers' online operations, particularly Black Friday morning, when bargain hunters searched online for deals, which resulted in issues such as:
What happened with online site operations
- Site outages: Several national retailers' online sites went down for long periods.
- Slow browsing: Traffic overload led to degradation in site loading times and negative social media coverage for retailers who failed to deliver.
- Queueing: Several sites implemented a holding page, which led to frustrated buyers abandoning sites.
Retailers have been urged by consumers to up the ante this coming Black Friday after many consumers said stores were not prepared last year. Research has found 65% of shoppers said they either agreed or strongly agreed that retailers "were not well prepared enough to cope with demand on Black Friday".
John Munnelly, Head of Operations at John Lewis Magna Park National Distribution Centre has stated that Black Friday 2014 took the centre close to capacity as, at times, it processed 2.6m orders during the peak moments of a day that saw £44m taken in orders, hitting £2m between midnight and 1am.
He suggests: "Retailers must now get good at being transparent with the capacity we all have in the engine room," he added: "If we don't have fuel to keep the customer promise we'll pay for that handsomely after the event."
Dixons Carphone Chief Executive Sebastian James is sure that Black Friday is here to stay and is looking at improvements for this year. Although Dixons Carphone encountered problems including queues on its website and fulfilment issues, the electronics retailer reported an uplift in incremental sales, which in contrast to other retailers, didn't hit their margins