Last Black Friday, footfall at UK shopping centres, retail parks and on the high street dropped 5.4% compared to the previous year, according to analyst firm Springboard. A bleak Black Friday can be a stressful time for retailers, considering it kicks off the busiest three months in the retail calendar, known as the ‘Golden Quarter’. For some retailers, this season can be make or break.
The only way to combat this is by preparing for the sales season – now. Richard Willis, regional vice president at Aptos, shares his thoughts on key dos and don’ts for major sales days, to help retailers have a successful Golden Quarter:
“DON’T send out blanket offer emails. In the current economic market, UK shoppers are cautious. They want relevant, great discounts. Sending blanket sales information is bad for two reasons. If retailers email the same person every day, the messages are going to end up in junk inboxes, resulting in wasted time and lost sales opportunities. Secondly, cautious shoppers on the hunt for great discounts are not going to idly scroll through their emails, opening every single one. Instead, they’ll be drawn to catchy subject lines that describe an item that’s worth their time and money. When it comes to email marketing, retailers need to remember it’s about quality, not quantity.”
“DO share stock availability. During sales, popular items with great discounts fly off the shelves. It’s often hard for retailers to keep up with what merchandise they physically have in-store. Retailers who put their customers first should prepare for the sales season by giving shoppers and sales assistants the ability to easily check stock availability. If a customer cannot find the item they want in-store, they should be able to get help from sales assistants or have the option to use the store’s tech to find out if it is either in the stockroom or in the nearest store. Should the item not be in that particular store, retailers need to offer for the item to be delivered either to the customer’s home or to their preferred store.”
“DO encourage wish lists. Wish lists are a dream come true when it comes to merchandising and assortment planning. While we might associate wish lists most often with Christmas shopping, retailers should also consider promoting their wish list offering year-round. With greater utilisation of wish lists, retailers can spot which items are likely to go out of stock first, and plan accordingly. They can also use the data in wish lists to plan which products will be popular in certain areas, and ensure each store location has the right assortment for local shoppers.”
“DON’T forget click-and-collect. We’re all aware of the ever-increasing influence of digital on retail purchases. For omnichannel retailers, it’s vital that they consider click-and-collect in their sales day strategy. It’s a big opportunity to increase footfall in-store and connect with customers in a bricks-and-mortar setting. Click-and-collect customers are what we call ‘seekers’, on a mission to find the exact product they want. They’re looking to save money on delivery, but also ensure that the product they want is in-store, when they want it.
“To prepare for click-and-collect-ers, retailers should ensure they have special ‘click-and-collect’ stations in their stores. We know that shoppers choosing to order online probably dislike queues and crowds, so giving them their own space really tailors the experience for them. Sales assistants in these specialised stations need to be supported by advanced technology that allows them to recommend further purchases. By equipping these staff with mobile devices that can tell them what is inside each package so they can offer recommendations on accessories or complementary products, retailers can best take advantage of the potential footfall click-and-collect offers.”