What started out as the biggest shopping day of the year has steadily grown into its own mini-season, with deals stretching throughout November. This year, Black Friday falls on November 24th – one month before the biggest gift giving day of the year.
According to IMRG, total spend on online retail sites on Black Friday 2016 was £1.23bn – a +12.2% increase on the £1.1bn spent on the same day the previous year. For the week as a whole (21 – 28th November 2016), an estimated £6.45bn was spent on UK online retail sites.
Black Friday traffic has seen a year on year increase since 2013, and online spend is expected to reach £7bn for the Black Friday peak period in 2017. Thanks to longer campaign durations and new discount promotions, peak shopper spend has spread over a longer period.
Another notable trend in Black Friday sales is the way in which consumers are shopping online. 2016 saw a 26% increase in checkout traffic to mobile devices, with a 43% purchase share. We expect that mobile usage will continue to rise this year, taking a larger territory from both desktop and tablets.
While tech is traditionally reserved for Cyber Monday, Adobe Digital Insights reported that the best-selling electronics were Apple iPads, Samsung 4K TV’s, Apple’s MacBook Air, LG Televisions and Microsoft Xbox. Toy sales were also high, with Lego Creator Sets, electric scooters from Razor, Nerf Guns, DJI Phantom Drones and Barbie Dreamhouse making the top five.
What can ecommerce retailers do to prepare for this busy period? Here are five ways to ensure your site is prepared for the Black Friday rush:
- Personalise your platforms
Customers have come to expect a tailored online shopping experience, and if you’re site doesn’t provide this, your competitors will. Personalised retail experiences are key to maintaining brand consistency online, ensuring that shoppers remain engaged and that they complete the checkout process.
- Implement address validation
Ensuring a positive user experience is all about making the online transaction as easy as possible for the customer. Optimising address validation at the checkout processes is a quick and effective way to make sure that customers complete their purchases. A smooth checkout process can increase the odds of repeat custom and reap better returns for businesses by capturing customer data.
- Introduce abandonment surveys
You’ve personalised your platforms and have implemented address validation software to ease the checkout process, and yet customers are still leaving mid-checkout. Find out why customers didn’t complete their purchases by setting up an abandonment survey. Surveys are emailed out to customers who left their purchase mid-transaction, providing you with invaluable data to identify where you’re going wrong.
- Integrate inventory management software
For online retailers, making sure that the business is streamlined across channels and that everything is integrated into a single control hub makes managing real-time sales across multiple platforms much easier.
- Load test your site
Last but by no means least – make sure you load test your site in plenty of time ahead of the holiday season. When you’re running an ecommerce website, downtime is the equivalent of locking your doors to the public. eCommerce retailers should work with their servers to confirm the maximum number of shoppers your site can handle at any one time.
Black Friday is not only the busiest, but also one of the most challenging times for retailers. Preparing early and adopting new processes and software can significantly improve your sales, and enhance that all important customer experience.