Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become a fixture in the British shopping calendar, and with this year’s shopping events expected to be bigger than ever before, many retailers are counting on them to help boost their flagging fortunes. However, with just under four months to go, e-commerce specialist Tryzens is urging retailers to start optimising and stress testing their e-commerce platforms to ensure that they can secure their share of the customer wallet.
Consumer spending continues to soar on Black Friday, and according to data from Barclaycard, spending increased by 7% in 2017 compared to sales in 2016 on Black Friday. This growth was driven in large part by online spending, with many consumers opting to avoid the throngs of shoppers on the high street and grab their bargains from the comfort of their own homes.
However, despite numerous high profile examples of Black Friday-related website outages, a number of major retailers – including GAME and Debenhams – found that their e-commerce platforms were straining under the pressure even before the main shopping event had begun.
According to Andy Burton, CEO of Tryzens, the importance of Black Friday in the retail sector means that these are the sort of mistakes that retailers can ill afford.
Burton said: “2018 has been a difficult year for many retailers, and while Black Friday and Cyber Monday will provide a much-needed boost to sales, any mistakes during this time could be costly. Whilst retailers invest considerable amounts of money and effort in promoting their products during this peak, they can fall at the final hurdle if they’ve failed to pay adequate attention to their online channels, site performance, stock visibility and fulfilment bottlenecks. Such experiences disappoint their customers and damage the brand, losing out on key sales in the process. As we have less than four months to go, now is time to re-strategise and prepare for what is to come.”
“First, retailers need to start capacity planning, which is essential to running smooth e-commerce operations. In doing so, they can gauge if their channels will cope with rapid surges in visitor traffic and attempted orders. They will need to maintain swift page load times and avoid website crashes which drive customers away.”
Burton continued: “Secondly, given that peak periods like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are naturally highly competitive for retailers, those that understand, and support effective customer journeys across channels will be best positioned to succeed. Therefore, paying attention to consumers experience to ensure they have an intuitive, engaging and consistent experience whether in-store, on online via a mobile or laptop is critical. With mobile playing a greater role in generating sales than ever before, retailers must go beyond just responsive design to make it easier for consumers to browse, search, select and purchase on the go.”
Underpinning, a great shopping experience is the critical role of effectively integrated back end systems that help recognise the customer and maximise the stock availability. Without a single view of the customer or a single view of stock it is nigh on impossible to offer the most effective engagement with customers or turn stock swiftly and efficiently.”
Perhaps too late in the day to be a focus for this next peak period, Burton encourages retailers to get the plumbing right in order to reduce the friction in the sales process.
Burton adds: “Finally, by conducting conversion rate optimisation activity with associated AB testing to identify areas where retailers may be losing sales and implementing small changes is a highly effective way of fine-tuning. This also requires little investment ahead of peak to ensure your site is optimised to maximise sales.”
“Retailers need to focus on technologies that help them boost their performance by improving customers’ journey, offering a highly intuitive shopping experience to increase the size of the basket. A strategy that recognises the customer as a unique individual, and offers suggestions based on their browsing patterns and previous purchase history will help retailers maximise spend and capitalise on the Black Friday shopping bonanza.”