Pundits and predictions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday flood into Retail Times

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Retail Times has been inundated by pundits and predictions for retail trading tomorrow. Here’s a flavour of the latest sales forecasts and tips for success

Craig Sears-Black, UK managing director of Manhattan Associates, said: “A new retail trend is showing that some of Britain’s largest shopping centres are introducing mega discounts to coincide with the usual online Black Friday shopping boom in an attempt to keep their bricks-and-mortar stores thriving.

“Many are looking to capitalise on the festive spending boom by incentivising shoppers to buy in-store this festive season, as well as online. With Black Friday marking the beginning of the Christmas shopping countdown, retailers need complete real-time visibility of all stock be able to maximise sales and also maximise ability to fulfil commitments to customers.

“As customers demand more, retailers must deliver a seamless shopping experience regardless of shopping channel and must have the flexibility to deliver goods when, where and how shoppers want them. Recent research by Manhattan Associates found that a quarter of people have boycotted a retailer following a disappointing festive season delivery experience – retailers really can’t afford to leave customers with empty stockings this year.”

Rewards website, GetPaidTo, has used an in-house Twitter analytics tool to identify top trends in how the shopping days have been discussed in the lead up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It found:

  • Last week, Brits only contributed 1.5% to the global discussion around Black Friday and 1.9% to Cyber Monday [14,401 of the 938,607 global mentions around Black Friday came from the UK; 1,659 of the 87,325 global mentions of Cyber Monday came from the UK]
  • This is further demonstrated in the sentiment of the UK’s tweets with Cyber Mondaybeing discussed positively – Black Friday: 86.5% neutral, 11.2% positive, 2.2% negative; Cyber Monday in the UK: 75% neutral, 24.4% positive, 0.6% negative
  • Discussion around the holidays has gained speed over the last 24 hours in the UK, increasing to a combined 5% around Black Fridayand Cyber Monday. People are beginning to hear about the offers one way or another and they are starting to engage in the conversation online [156,721 mentions of Black Fridayglobally, 3,979 mentions of Black Friday in the UK; 12,897 mentions of Cyber Monday globally, 327 mentions of Cyber Monday in the UK]
  • The top three mentioned brands in association with Black Friday and Cyber Monday are largely US brands, some with UK presences, demonstrating that the US trend is being pushed by the US brands:
  1. Amazon
  2. Costco
  3. Macy’s
  • Globally, Black Friday generated over 2.9bn impressions last week, meaning consumers are unlikely to miss the sales and deals available to them as someone they follow is likely tweeting about it multiple times, even in the UK the impressions will be hard to miss

Andrew Fowkes, head of retail centre of excellence, SAS UK & Ireland, said: “Following an expected online shopping frenzy starting on Black Friday and continuing beyond Cyber Monday, some consumers may regret their impulse buys. According to a survey earlier this month by SAS and Conlumino, almost three in four shoppers say online purchases should be allowed to be returned in store. This pattern could become known as ‘Return & Run’ where they simply return unwanted items or ‘Shop & Drop’ where they make new purchases at the same time as returning unwanted goods.

“With shoppers becoming ever more unpredictable in their buying and returns behaviour, Black Friday can no longer guarantee a healthy profit for retailers, even with the appeal of bargains, same day deliveries and ‘Click & Collect’ services. As well as wanting to return online items in store, some shoppers are also experiencing ‘promotion fatigue’ – more than two-thirds of consumers in our survey think discounting has lost its impact.

“Matching product promotions to different consumers is a complex puzzle – especially when consumers are not shopping for themselves. Analysing data is the only way to solve it. Unfortunately, 44% of retailers said they still rely on gut feel for forecasting demand, and nearly half (47%) said they promote the same goods every year. Big data analytics extracts key insights from the data so retailers can accurately forecast demand for different products among different consumers, and ultimately deliver consumer satisfaction.”

Jonathan Smith, chairman of InPost, the send, collect and return parcel locker service, said: “The trend towards seasonal discounting and last-minute sales is making the Christmas peak even peakier. Black Friday has already turned into a week of lightening deals and with many retailers following suit, more people than ever are expected to shop online for presents this weekend alone. This puts increasing pressure on the ability to deliver as the logistical challenges of getting gifts to people in the right place at the right time starts to mount up.

“People are also increasingly looking for convenience. Our research shows that shoppers have missed an average of three home deliveries in the last 12 months alone and our data indicates that nearly 60% of parcels from our lockers are collected between7pm-7am at night. This emphasises how it’s never been more critical for retailers to offer a full range of delivery and click and collect options to suit every need and that 24/7 locker networks have a crucial role to play in providing convenience.

“We believe click and collect will considerably contribute to a growth in retail sales this Christmas as shoppers seek greater convenience. Our own recent research reveals that 33% of people are already planning to pick up their online shopping in store this season and it’s a trend set to continue with predictions claiming click and collect will grow by more than 80% over the next five years. Automated lockers are helping take the service to the next level of convenience as they are not limited to opening hours – shoppers can send and collect goods at any time of the day or night – even on Christmas day. InPost’s 1,000 locker locations up and down the country mean that retailers and individuals alike can send items to customers or friends and family and the parcel waits in for them, rather than the other way around.”

Rob Lay, solutions architect for enterprise and cyber security, UK & Ireland for Fujitsu, said: “Black Friday and Cyber Monday pose heightened security risks to retailers by providing an opportunity for hackers to take advantage during the Christmas shopping rush.

“Throughout this year we have seen a number of high profile retailers be affected by data breaches, and with the increased volumes of transactions, traffic and data noise these shopping days pose the perfect opportunities for hackers to go un-noticed.

“Businesses should ensure that their monitoring systems, and other the mechanisms that provide visibility into what is going on within their environments are well tuned and on slightly higher alert so that incidents can be responded to quickly and efficiently should they happen. This can also be helped by ensuring that the company’s incident response process is well understood and that all the involved parties know what is needed from them should an incident occur.

“Research by Fujitsu revealed that less than 10% of consumers believe that businesses are doing enough to ensure that their data is protected.

“It is clear that customers are battling to understand the impact on their personal information if a company is hacked. As such retailers need to ensure that they focus on the data and threats which pose the most significant risk to both them and their customers, particularly as the hacker community continues to evolve.

“In addition, retailers should talk to their customers to show that they are taking security seriously and highlight their innovation in these areas, collaboration efforts are being led by the financial and law enforcement sectors, but this is also an area where retailers would benefit from a pooling of resources, ideas and intelligence as they all work to ensure the security of their customer data. Being more open, and treating customer data with the same degree of respect shown by staff in person will go a long way to building trust – especially during the holiday season.”

Yo Delmar, vice president of GRC and Keri Dawson, vice president of industry solutions at MetricStream, comment: “Events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become increasingly important to retailers. Not only do they provide an opportunity for promotion but also offer new customers alternative experiences of how to shop,” said Delmar.

“However, in the past year and a half there have been some high profile companies suffering data breaches, such as eBay and Target, due to the sophistication of today’s cyber threats. Indeed, with so many payment card details being registered, these events will inevitably attract cybercriminals and retailers must have processes in place to mitigate against this potential risk. For example, since spotting anomalous behaviour during a time of high activity can be incredibly difficult, companies should consider making no changes – or introducing any new processes/systems – to their existing infrastructure during these events. This would stabilise their normal background information, making it much easier to detect any suspicious activity.”

“Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the most important shopping days of the year, both for online merchants and brick-and-mortar retailers,” said Dawson.

“Due to the high volume of physical and virtual customer traffic, retailers have become increasingly mindful of how to optimise the customer experience while maximising sales.  In the store, how a retailer handles the increased crowds – from store layout and product placement to staffing and security – goes a long way towards meeting consumer satisfaction.

“Online retailers must be even more vigilant of risks to transactional integrity – from website availability and stability to payment fraud and identity theft.  Furthermore, social media offers unprecedented levels of information sharing, and every retailer should mind the risk of customer dissatisfaction. Disgruntled consumers’ tweets and posts can go viral almost instantly – a huge reputational risk that can directly impact a retailer’s share of the customer wallet.

“Customer satisfaction issues that arise at any other time of the year can often be addressed without media involvement, but problems that occur during the Christmas period are often amplified and live long in the memory. One way for retailers to help mitigate these Black Friday and Cyber Monday risks is to think about the whole shopping experience from the customers’ point of view and not simply from their own.”

“Of course, it’s vital that retailers know how to respond should something negative occur,” said Delmar. “There needs to be a response plan that covers the entire spectrum of potential issues, as being able to move swiftly will enable a retailer to defend its brand.”

“Employees are the front-line brand ambassadors for retailers. They should be field trained to analyse issues quickly and consistently,” said Dawson, “and retailers need to react in a way that preserves their reputation without transferring the risk to their customers. As such, by having a well-rehearsed response plan in place, organisations will be more aware of the risks that make them most vulnerable and how to react, empowering them to confidently compete for their share of the spending.”

Pay4Later reveals 68% of people expect to do some of their Christmas shopping on ‘Black Friday’ when massive price reductions from retailers coincides with payday for millions of workers.

The research shows that 46% of people will do 10% or more of their Christmas shopping tomorrow, and one in ten plans to complete more than half of their shopping. Around 940,000 shoppers plan to do 90% or more of their festive buying.

Percentage of Christmas shopping people expect to do on Black Friday  Percentage of people who expect to do this level of their Christmas shopping on BlackFriday
1-9% 23%
10%-19% 17%
20%– 29% 9%
30%- 39% 6%
40% – 49% 3%
50% – 59% 6%
60% – 100% 4.1%

Pay4Later, the UK’s fastest growing provider of point of sale credit, enables retailers to offer finance solutions including interest-free credit to customers and carried out the research to find out what finance services shoppers want from store groups.

Scott Law, CEO of Pay4Later, said: “The discounts on offer for Black Friday will enable shoppers to make major savings on their festive spending and it is going to be a very busy day for retailers. Being able to offer credit to allow customers to borrow responsibly is an important service for store groups.”