As final preparations for Black Friday get underway, Damian Hanson, CEO of leading multi-channel retail technology specialist One iota, is warning that retailers risk missing out on huge sales opportunities if they fail to provide customers with a fully connected shopping journey.
An estimated £810m was spent on Black Friday last year, 50% more than industry experts had predicted, and this year’s event is set to be bigger still. According to IMRG, retailers should be prepared for a rise of almost a third in spending on Black Friday 2015, making it the first time ever that UK retail sales exceed £1bn in a single day.
The pitfalls of the phenomenon of Black Friday are well documented. From hysteria on the high street to websites struggling to handle the increased traffic, crashing completely and leaving customers waiting for hours in virtual queues, most retailers have learnt lessons from last year and should now be better prepared for this year’s event.
Yet despite this, Hanson believes that many are still making a fundamental mistake, in treating online and in-store sales as two separate entities and failing to marry the two by bringing eCommerce in-store to create a fully connected shopping journey for customers. And with footfall up 23% on the previous year, Black Friday 2014 demonstrated more than ever that shoppers still want to venture onto the High Street to touch and feel the items they wish to purchase.
With the mass adoption of modern technology has come a new, tech savvy shopper, with far higher expectations than ever before. A shopper who wants to be able to buy the product they want at the very best price there and then – even during flash sales such as Black Friday.
Retailers who are bridging the gap between online and in-store with assisted selling devices such as transactional kiosks and iPads, are able to satisfy these customers. By utilising in-store technology, the retailer is able to sell beyond what is simply “on the shelf”, and showcase their entire product range directly to the customer – ensuring they capitalise on every sales opportunity. These innovative solutions also enable customers to buy out of stock items and choose from a variety of delivery options, even on Black Friday.
However as Hanson says, many retailers are still failing to utilise this technology to its full potential: “Technology has come a long way over the past few years and is now more readily available to both retailers and consumers than ever before – but if retailers fail to capitalise on it, it’s a wasted opportunity.
“There are several reasons they may be reluctant to do this. A key one is fear of the unknown, along with a feeling of “us and them” – with many still seeing online and in-store as completely separate sales channels. Retailers need to appreciate that by joining up online and in-store sales, as well as the customer benefitting from a seamless and consistent shopping journey, the retailer also benefits with improved conversion rates, increased sales and reduced basket abandonment.”