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Some key trends to watch out for on Black Friday – and beyond

By Paul Skeldon November 22, 2018 - 2:21 pm

Black Friday is nearly upon us and, while it is too late to do much about your strategy, it is worth noting some of the key trends that are likely to emerge.

Mobile will lead the charge

The biggest thing to note from the deluge of materials that have been pumped out about Black Friday and the Peak season is that once again mobile is set to be the big winner.

According to consumer behaviour data from Ve Global (Ve), the proportion of UK shoppers using their phones to buy online as we run up to Christmas is up by 44% compared to last year, with predictions that mobile sales will rise to more than 50% during the Black Friday weekend.

“The main challenge for brands is to develop and deploy mobile experiences that are relevant and bring value to each potential customer”
– David Marrinan-Hayes, CEO, Ve

Europeans start early – and on mobile

European consumers are set to up their online spend this Christmas, start their shopping earlier and will be doing much of it in mobile, according to research by Forrester. Its suggests that online holiday retail sales in Europe are set to increase by 12.1% compared to peak season 2017, growing from $54.85 billion to $61.49 billion this year.

Retailers must also be ‘mobile-fast’, not just mobile-friendly, says Forrester analyst and report author Michael O’Grady.

More intriguing is the fact that it finds that the festive season is starting earlier each year in Europe. While Black Friday has long been the starting gun for peak in the US – and increasingly in the UK – it is now when shoppers in Germany, France, Italy and Spain all start their Christmas shopping too.

“Stress-test your systems and operations for the impending digital holiday traffic and sales. Also, remind your customers of the time-saving self-serve functionality available to them across digital touchpoints and in-store during the busy holiday season.”
– Michael O’Grady, analyst, Forrester Research

Mobile experience getting jaded

While there is much attention on how more mobile shoppers are going to be this year, Adobe has found that many consumers now consider most mobile experiences on offer from retailers to be a bit old hat. There’s no pleasing some people, is there?

It has anecdotal evidence from its Adobe Analytics arm that suggest that says two thirds of European shoppers think that most mobile retailing is in need of a reboot. Instead, they are turning to using social media on mobile to browse, share, recommend and shop, finds Adobe.

“Even if price is still the deciding factor for many shoppers, the quality of experience they receive plays a major role as well, especially for brands that want to build loyalty and keep people coming back after the holiday rush.”
– Jamie Brighton, Head of Product & Industry Marketing, Adobe EMEA

Stores lose out to the web

As many as 80% of UK shoppers are unlikely to hit the high street over the Black Friday weekend, opting instead to shop online or wait until ‘crowds have died down’, latest figures suggest.

In something of a Catch 22, many shoppers won’t head to real world stores because they are too crowded (so, if they don’t go, they won’t be crowded – logic, you’ll agree, worthy of Captain Yossarian).

And the High Street’s loss will be online’s gain, according to the research by Genesys, which found that 31% of shoppers do not believe Black Friday price reductions are worth the trouble of battling the crowds. In fact, 16% say there are better deals to be had at other times of the year. More than a fifth (21%) prefer to shop online on Black Friday.

“This year, the vast majority of British consumers are planning to stay away from stores on Black Friday because it’s not worth the bother. They prefer shopping online in the comfort of their own home – or whatever location is convenient –  to the chaos of dealing with crowded high-street stores”
– Richard McCrossan, digital lead for Genesys

Black Friday started in the Summer

The most interesting piece of info around Black Friday, I think, comes from IMRG, which believes that Black Friday is just the pinnacle of an extended discounting cycle for many retailers, which started in late summer.

In Q3 (Jul-Sep), 23% of overall sales revenue came from products that were in sale; this was up almost a third on the same period last year (17.8%) and was also a sharp increase on Q2 (Apr-Jun) when it was 15%. This is significant entering the Black Friday period, where retailers are reliant on discounting to capture shopper attention.

“The latest figures corroborate a trend that has become increasingly evident over the past few months – that, even months before Black Friday, a lot of retailers found themselves stuck in discounting cycles. In the third-quarter, the percentage of revenue from items sold at a discounted rate was up by almost a third compared to the same period in 2017.”

– Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG

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