Manu Tyagi – Associate Partner for Retail at Infosys Consulting
“While the majority of retailers in UK and Europe are still participating in the Black Friday event, several major retailers like Selfridges, Primark, and Asda have decided to opt out.
“Many stores struggle with getting their stocking, tagging and staff availability right on Black Friday, to cope with the higher footfall and the logistical support for online deliveries. Retailers are beginning to advertise promotions and discounts over a much longer period in a more sustainable manner, to avoid huge crowds in-store or websites crashing.
“In recent years retailers have also realised that return rates have peaked as high as 50 per cent after the frenzy of Black Friday, which impacts margins when goods are returned to stores.
“But while many retailers claim to opt out, they still run promotions around the same period hoping to differentiate and prove that they always offer the best discounts. Think ‘offers are for life, not just for Black Friday.’ Apple, for instance, previously offered free Apple gift cards over Black Friday, while Selfridges branded the event as ‘Christmas Come Early’ and provided discount codes for consumers to claim significant discounts both in store and online.”
Data and the customer – making Black Friday work for everyone
“Given the boom in digital transactions on Black Friday, big data and extensive consumer analytics are generated as consumers compete for the best deals. At the same time, data and analytics are also used to enable this kind of mega shopping event.
“Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts are stimulating ever-greater consumer participation. Retailers are leveraging the data they collect to create personalised offers and incentivise consumers for appropriate purchases, based on careful pricing and consumer segmentation analytics.
“Data on past purchase behaviour, what consumers have in their wishlists, and what web pages they have engaged with is used by retailers to create the right strategy to entice customers on the big day. The analysis of such data helps them determine stock and availability, decide pricing strategy, display space planning, drive online discounting and voucher code administration, and hone delivery scheduling for their operations.
“As a result, promotions are all based on the intelligent use of data so that retailers can set the perfect price and accurately predict shopper behaviour.”
Customer experience – top of the wishlist
“Retailers are going all out to ensure the best customer experience by planning in advance. This can be ensuring appropriate stocking and availability of the right products, both in store and online, having sufficient in-store staff, and minimising delivery times.
“Store layouts and foot flow should be optimised to ensure minimal congestion, and retailers should focus on good display areas, using in-store technologies like augmented reality and touchscreen displays to enhance customer experiences.
“In addition, retailers should stress test their websites prior to Black Friday to avoid any technical issues when the traffic hits. Some retailers are trying to beat the sales and reduce traffic on the actual day by offering price guarantees starting earlier. ‘Why Wait?’ prices are offered to shoppers with a guarantee that if the price drops further on Black Friday, shoppers will be eligible for a refund. This is a great way to win over consumers who have experienced technical glitches on Black Friday before, and therefore don’t mind placing orders early – especially if it comes with a price guarantee.”