How to remain a winner this Black Friday

Considered to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year, Black Friday can be a manic period for retailers. Nevertheless, it can also be hugely profitable for many brands looking to hijack the seasonal peak to increase sales and build brand loyalty.

According to a recent survey, it was estimated that British shoppers spent £810m in 2017. Whilst, online retailers thrived, omnichannel brands were the overall winners of 2017’s Black Friday with retailers such as Game, Argos and JD Sports all reporting a significant rise in sales.

However, as some brands flourished, others were left burdened by the increase of customer demand. For instance, H&M’s website was down for a full hour due to the increased traffic of consumers looking for Black Friday deals.

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It seems this increase of consumer interest is expected to continue as this year it’s expected that Black Friday sales will go well over £1bn, due to retailers continuing to utilise digital advertising, social media and influencer strategies to draw in more and more loyal customers. Whilst the seasonal peak can present retailers with a variety of opportunities there are also some challenges that retailers can face.

Unsatisfied customers due to out-of-stocks

Nothing frustrates customers more than when a product they want is out of stock. In today’s retail landscape, presenting an item that is out-of-stock with no reasonable, alternative fulfilment option available is unacceptable.

Retailers need to address their inventory management and those that have a real-time view of inventory across all stores can ensure they are able to deliver products to their customers when they want them. Not only will retailers be able to give the reassurance to customers that products are available, but will provide greater insight on where they are available; giving customers more choices on how they obtain those items.

With products constantly leaving the store and shelves needing to be replenished, having a real-time view of inventory ensures retailers can optimise the way they access and use inventory, giving customers a smooth buying experience at the time of demand whilst reducing resources and markdown costs.

Enhancing the experience for customers

A poor customer experience can result in a loss of sales or can deter brand loyalty. The entire customer journey should be the focus for retailers and they should look to adopt various strategies that will enable them to enhance the customer experience by improving support, personalisation and creating customer loyalty programmes.

In addition, retailers can implement convenient fulfilment options for their customers, such as the freedom to return a product to any store, irrespective of the original purchase channel. This allows the customer to make a decision that is easy and personal to them.

Offering omnichannel for increased consumer demand

As customers continue to use their smartphones to order products, there is an increased demand for products. With a significant percentage of Black Friday shopping taking place from smartphones, jumping to 40% compared to the rest of the year, this reflects the trend that mobile shopping is still growing in popularity. Therefore, retailers should ensure they are prepared for consumers to use their phones in-store.

Today, retailers have the opportunity to enhance their omnichannel strategy, that gives customers the choice of purchasing products across multiple channels. Having an order management system, that brings together the components a unified commerce enables retailers to offer customers a seamless and convenient experience.

Retailers can’t afford to approach their online and offline operations as separate functions. Customers mostly care about convenience and the majority also consider next day or same day delivery as a factor that influences their purchasing decisions with – 56% of online customers, aged between 18-34 expect to have same day delivery. If an organisation doesn’t recognise its customers’ needs, it could be the difference between those that win and lose this Black Friday.

Black Friday can be a blessing for retailers to ensure they are taking advantage of seasonal peaks and generating profits. However, if a retailer isn’t prepared, they can experience many mishaps along the way and the increased customer demand can leave retailers struggling to keep up with the competition.

Rob Shaw is the managing director EMEA, Fluent Commerce.

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