Black Friday is arguably one of the most prominent days for retail, each year shattering its records and leveraging on shoppers eager to make savings. Yet retail suffered a significant blow in 2020, and consumer habits shifted exponentially. In 2020, the pandemic meant many shoppers chose to stay home and avoid crowded stores or long, arduous queuing in the highstreets.
However, a year later, with lockdown now firmly in the rearview, how will consumers choose to engage with brands in a post-pandemic setting? Online World News spoke with several industry experts to find out what will be key trends during this year’s seasonal peak.
Importance of Delivering a Personalised Experience
Many shoppers will be utilising Black Friday to land themselves some savings. While it’s true the event enables consumers to unearth some bargains, today’s customers are after more, with many valuing personalised experiences, particularly in an increasingly online landscape.
Marc Shields, Senior Account Manager – Social Media at Loud Mouth Media, explains its importance in today’s environment.
“According to Facebook insights, 66% of shoppers say that personalised recommendations on Facebook and Instagram have made it easier to complete the shopping process, and 56% of Mega Sale Day shoppers say Facebook has played a role in helping them discover the items they have purchased.”
“With consumers on the lookout for bargains and a seamless shopping experience, having this in place is a more personal approach than regular ad content and can be used in conjunction with buy-now-pay-later services like Klarna to help encourage the sale.”
Last year, Black Friday became a predominantly online event. Yet, as lockdowns have lifted, Lysa Campbell, CEO at Retail Marketing Group says that we should expect shoppers to return to the highstreets. Therefore, brands need to look to also deliver a personalised experience in-store.
She comments: “The last Black Friday adapted to become entirely online, yet this year, the annual event must adopt a more hybrid environment framework.
“Human interaction will be the key going into Black Friday and thereafter, Christmas. Online shopping can be easy and seamless without any need for interaction, which is fine for everyday purchase. However, when it comes to Black Friday and Christmas, consumers want and are even eager for recommendations for gifts to give to those that they don’t know where to begin in what to give them”
Utilising an Omnichannel Approach
With more consumers likely to return to the highstreets, retailers optimising omnichannel sales strategies are increasingly more profitable than those that rely on a single pipeline.
Dean Frew, CTO & Senior VP of RFID Solutions at SML Group, comments: “In a recent study undertaken by SML, 22% of retailers said that omnichannel fulfilment was their most prominent way of serving customers between 2020 and 2021.”
More and more retailers are utilising sales strategies such as click & and collect and BOPIS (Buy Online Pick Up in Store) to meet customer demands. However, the key to delivering these solutions lies in having the technology in place to track your inventory effectively.
Frew tolds us: “According to SML’s research, 48% of retailers frequently say out of stock items are a crucial challenge to serving their customers. This year, the key opportunity for retailers will be to invest in technology that allows them to maintain high inventory accuracy to quickly and seamlessly fulfill orders through all sales channels.
“Inventory accuracy is the key to success. SML found that 43% of retail decision-makers say that having real-time visibility of stock levels would be one of the most critical factors in delivering a better customer experience.”
Being Digitally Mature and Secure
Similar to Shields, Halil Aksu, CEO and co-founder of Digitopia, agrees that a personal approach is necessary as brands look to engage with consumers.
“The biggest priority is the customer,” he explains. “Retailers need to know them, care about them and understand them. They need to provide the best possible service, prices and experiences across all channels at all touchpoints, at all times.”
However, Aksu also states that retailers must still consider the bigger picture, and accurately measure digital transformation to find success.
“Digital transformation accounts for the entire business.
“Only by accurately measuring and benchmarking progress can retailers know exactly where they were, where they currently stand, and importantly, what steps they can take to continue to improve their digital processes.”
As retailers look to continue adopting more online and in-store digital solutions, Dominik Birgelen, CEO Oneclick says that retailers have due diligence to protect their customers.
“Cyber attacks around the November-December shopping extravaganza are mostly aimed at consumers, but there are two sides to every transaction.”
Mr Birgelen adds: “Retailers should be mindful of insider threats. Whether it’s a corrupt employee or an under trained staff force, remote systems not built for self-protection will suffer during Black Friday.”
As Black Friday draws nearer, retailers must utilise multiple channels to reach ever-changing customer demands. Yet, having the technology in place to deliver on the promise of an omnichannel effectively and securely will be the key to success.