Retail Times has been inundated with predictions of the impact of Black Friday (29 November 2013) and Mega/Cyber Monday (2 December 2013) on UK retail sales – off- and online. Rather than host multiple stories, we have rounded up the comments and analysis to give a flavour of the anticipated shopping frenzy and mobile browsing and buying action
Hitachi Consulting UK
Chris Gates, director of retail at Hitachi Consulting UK
“This year, more retailers than ever have launched exclusive offers for Cyber Monday – the busiest online shopping day of the year – when etail sales are predicted to top £605m. Retailers are getting ready for the bow-wave of people hitting their stores over the next few days to collect all the orders placed on Black Friday.
“Online sales are only increasing. We’ve seen retailers experience significant success by developing click and collect offerings that integrate their online and offline channels. In order to optimise opportunities on the sky-high demand of customers for timely deliveries in the run-up to Christmas, retailers need to ensure that they have systems in place to deal with this in a timely manner. Retailers need to make sure they integrate all their channels across multiple locations so that they can use their stores as fulfillment centres.
“The most successful players in today’s tough market must have a clear view of the stock inventory available at a local level – either in stock at a store or a local hub – so they can provide the fastest collection or delivery services possible. Only then can retailers deliver a seamless omni-channel experience that reduces the supply chain costs associated with instant delivery. This critical trading period is the time to demonstrate the integrated experience to delight customers and drive sales.”
Dan Wagner , CEO of Powa Technologies
“Retailers appear to have lost their nerve earlier than ever this year, with price cuts starting in earnest in what is their prime trading season. Online purchases are expected to smash all records this Christmas period and the high street needs to be more focused in its fight back than simply implementing a strategy of aggressive discounting. Companies need to implement retail strategies which mirror the myriad of devices that their customers are using. In these hostile market conditions the high street must take a more innovative approach in order to survive and grow.”
“Tailoring the shopping experience to the individual preferences of the consumer is vital. Developments in the design and layout of the premises themselves has also proven to be effective in getting customers into shops. Forward-thinking retailers are already pioneering more informal, less linear formats that allow for browsing and purchasing to be interlinked. This kind of approach combined with the use of mobile payment methods, where payment can be taken anywhere on or off the retail premises, make for a queue-busting customer experience and enhances the retailers chance of securing the sale and not loosing the business to a competitor.”
Tristan Rogers, CEO of ConcretePlatform
“With the lead up to an event like Christmas, all the high street retailers start watching each other like hawks, waiting to see who makes the first move. In this case, the move in question is the early discounting during the Christmas shopping season. The issue of course, is that when the retailer commits to the price slash, they will be losing margin on product, so the gamble is that they make up for margin erosion in quantity and churn, therefore clearing the floors for new product. The first mover hopefully gets the advantage, as they benefit from the pent up demand for a good discount. However, bolt early, and the pent up demand is not quite there and you end up discounting for no big turnover advantage. Secondly, such is the paranoia of the high street, that once one retailer starts, the rest follow, often forcing premature margin erosion.
“With ecommerce continuing to grow and store costs the centre of much debate, retailers need to reassess blanket promotion strategy. Better measurement of in-store initiatives is essential to monitoring store performance, whether it be window displays, in-store marketing, visual merchandising, store layout or staff training. All of these things will either affect footfall or erode footfall conversion if not done well. Yet too many retailers do not have this measurement in place, so they cannot detect whether any of their operational investments work or not.
“The UK retail sector is so poor at the moment that retailers are looking at these sales rallies as a means of defibrillating the moribund market into life. Whilst sales are not bad per se, in-store performance needs to be better monitored to work out what works and what doesn’t. Following the herd into 2014 is not the answer.”
Next Monday is predicted to be the biggest day ever for online retail with 113m visits to online retail sites. Further online retail predictions for December 2013 include:
- This December 400m hours will be spent shopping online by the UK Internet population a 7.5% year-on-year increase on December 2012 (372m hours)
- The average consumer will spend eight hours browsing, researching and buying Christmas presents online this December again a 7.5% year-on-year increase
- 3bn visits will go to online retail websites in December 2013, representing 7% growth year-on-year – and the first time the UK will have reached this benchmark
Fujitsu UK & Ireland
David Lowrence, client engagement manager for retail at Fujitsu UK & Ireland
“For the past few years, the run up to Black Friday has become a battlefield between various industry voices – each supporting a certain vision of where the retail industry is going. While some have been heralding the death of the high street, indicating that consumers will spend the day browsing and shopping online and on mobile devices, others argued that the brick-and-mortar stores are going through a period of renaissance, fuelled by a healthy number of consumers ‘hitting the stores’ on this particular day of the year. At Fujitsu we’d argue that the high street is very much alive – in fact we recently surveyed retailers across Europe and 65% of retailers believe stores are still a driving force.
“However, for retailers hoping to make the most of this year’s Black Friday such debate is fruitless. In the era of multi-channel, what matters is the relationship with the customer. Instead of choosing between going online or visiting a physical store, most consumers this year will be looking to shop with retailers who can offer them the best experience possible. Only by putting consumers at the heart of the business – by trading data in the right way, personalising the shopping experience per customer and simplifying the purchase and return processes, retailers can hope to win the battle for consumers’ hearts – regardless of whether that will be in store or online.”
Dundas & Wilson
Deborah Wales, partner in the Real Estate group at Dundas & Wilson
“Last year, Amazon.co.uk saw more than 3.5m items ordered on the site on Cyber Monday, at a rate of around 41 items per second. It looks extremely likely that Monday 2 December 2013 will smash last year’s figures as online shopping continues to grow – over 10m UK residents now own a tablet device and seven in 10 adults own a smartphone.
“Former Burberry chief executive Angela Ahrendts illustrated the importance of online shopping when she said her shop windows should replicate Burberry’s website, not the other way around. The internet appears to be winning the economic battle for Britain’s high streets – the collapse of Blockbuster in November proved yet again that businesses which rely solely on the high street will struggle to survive.
“But this year’s bumper Cyber Monday statistics should not fool us into forgetting how important our high streets are. Shoppers want “an experience” comprising an attractive store, competitive pricing and fantastic customer service. They don’t just want an automated checkout. Consumers want the sparkle of the Christmas lights to inspire them, and the lure of the holiday spirit should not be underestimated. There is a good reason why John Lewis’ bear and hare are not shown sitting in their living room browsing the web on their iPads. The shops that can offer a true Christmas experience (without too many queues) will continue to be successful – especially if that service is backed up with a great choice and convenient delivery.”
Black Friday is a new-ish concept here, where we don’t have holidays today and tomorrow. Global customer experience firm, SDL, is casting doubt on whether heavy investment by retailers in Black Friday advertising will be worth it.
SDL research conducted this autumn shows that key shopping dates matter less to consumers worldwide, as consumers in the United Kingdom (63%) and Australia (73%) do not plan their holiday shopping around a specific day and that Black Friday means little to them.
Black Friday’ sales will see an explosion of eager shoppers desperate for bargains in the US, and Cyber Monday’will see the British public racing online to snap up the latest Christmas must-have presents.
Quantcast measures billions of websites and is able to analyse its audience data to understand how shoppers are preparing for the Black Friday sales in the US.
By examining the demographics of consumers searching Black Friday for the past few weeks it was revealed that Black Friday deal searchers are mostly women aged 25-44 with an income between $50 – 100k.
The top interests of Black Friday shoppers are:
1. Consumer Electronics
6. Sports and Outdoors
9. Home and Gardening
10. Diet and Fitness
Travelers top tips for small business owners:
1) Prevent holiday cyber attacks – businesses must protect themselves against cyber attacks this holiday season by putting the necessary security in place, actively monitoring their online sales, and covering their operations with the right cyber insurance coverage
2) Prevent theft – it comes in many forms – products are stolen in transit as well as in warehouses, creating new methods of cargo theft. In addition, hundreds of thousands of temporary, seasonal workers are also added to payrolls during the holidays, creating a significant exposure for businesses
3) Train your seasonal workers – retailers are expected to hire about 700,000 temporary holiday workers in 2013, which presents workplace safety risks, customer service risks and even risk of theft. Because many of these hires are new, provide a quick “refresh” course prior to Black Friday on best client/business practices
4) Keep close tabs on your supply chain – inventory is the lifeblood for most businesses, especially at this critical time. To ensure that proper inventory is on the shelves or in the warehouse, business owners need to review every part of their supply chain and create a contingency plan if the supply chain is interrupted
Tracy Bernasconi, Managed Risk Services, CyberSource – a payment and fraud management company owned by Visa, offers retailers her top tips on avoiding online fraud
Learn from the past
Before making any changes to your fraud strategy, take some time to review any trends from last Christmas. Did you have a problem reviewing orders in time? Were any particular products more susceptible to fraud?
If so, then make sure you are taking the correct precautions to ensure this doesn’t happen again. It’s not uncommon for fraudsters to target a specific retailer annually, so use your chargeback history to see what type of fraud you are being targeted with and identify any high risk areas.
Identify your priorities
After analysing previous fraud trends, you can begin to assess your priorities for the current season. Whether that’s reducing fraudulent orders, accepting more at Christmas, or a combination of the two – once you’ve established your goal, then you can put a plan in place to achieve it.
Your fraud strategy needs to accommodate any expected increase in turnover so considering turnover forecasts is also essential, particularly if you have a review process in place. For example if you manually review 10 per cent of all orders and currently process 10,000 orders a month – that’s 1,000 orders to review. However, if you expect your order volume to treble over Christmas, that’s 3,000 to review – a figure that may not be viable.
Review your rules
Shoppers spend more at Christmas and at different times of day, therefore your peak season fraud rules need to be adjusted accordingly. This could be raising the value of orders that are sent for review to cater for higher value orders, or relaxing velocity rules to cope with an increase in orders.
Similarly, look at “good” customer criteria, if a customer has been through the review process several times using the same email address, do you need to review the order? Auto-accepting these orders could save valuable time and enable staff to focus on higher risk orders.
Also, ensure rules are changed to reflect any past fraud trends. For example if last year fraud originated from Ireland, then make certain rules are tightened and all orders from this location are reviewed.
Think about the wider picture
eCommerce is not the only avenue for fraudsters looking to exploit peak season trading; peak season fraud can also originate via call centres. If fraudsters don’t get through online, they may try calling as a way to bypass the system (IP addresses can’t be checked over the phone).
So, if you have a call centre sales channel then take the time to educate staff about historic fraud trends and tell tale signs. This can be enhanced by maintaining an open and regular communication with your acquirer and conducting regular fraud analysis. Most have daily fraud reports which can be the difference between identifying a high scale fraud attack in progress as opposed to afterwards.
Don’t run out of time
With a number of different rules and factors to contend with, it’s not always possible to cover all bases. We all know there are delivery deadlines at Christmas and you don’t want to be left with 1,000 orders to review an hour before the cut off time.
By simply asking review staff to come in a bit earlier on days approaching the deadline you can ensure all orders are processed in time. Or if that’s not possible, then prioritise the biggest financial risks first – the high value items. A fraudulent order on a high value item can leave a big dent in your profits. So why not filter orders by amount, ensuring that those that can do the most damage in chargebacks are taken care of first.
And finally…don’t be scared
It may seem like a lot to contend with, but don’t panic – there is always help available. From identifying past trends, to defining your priorities and required rule changes, partnering with a trusted advisor in the payment sector can provide you with the guidance and support you need each step of the way.
By following these simple steps ahead of the busy period, you can be confident that you can grow your sales, whilst minimising the risk of fraud this Christmas.
MarkMonitor has put together top 12 tips for safe internet shopping:
Check that the website is secure. If the address begins with https:// the “s” tells you it’s a secure site
- Shop around and research the item’s recommended retail price (RRP). If it’s less than 50% of the RRP, there is a high possibility that the goods will be fake
- When giving out payment details look for the padlock sign on the page
- Check the returns policy. A bona fide seller should provide an option of how to cancel and where to return goods
- Look out for spelling mistakes on both the website and the URL address
- If you think you may have found a dodgy dealer, do a search for them on the internet and check their reputation
- If the company you’re buying from is based outside the UK, make sure you know the trader’s full address
- Only use online market places and auction sites you know about
- Some of the big brands have dedicated pages on their websites so consumers can check whether a seller is authorised
- If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is
- Finally, consumers need to remember that there is only one Father Christmas. All of the others are fake