Originating in the US, Black Friday is traditionally the day after Thanksgiving, when people would head out on a national holiday to begin their Christmas shopping, in stores which offer a huge range of tempting discounts. The name ‘Black Friday’ is believed to have originated in Philadelphia, where the day signified retailers beginning to make their profits for the year, or being ‘in the black’.
It’s been impossible to miss the plethora of offers, banners and emails that attacked us at every opportunity over the Cyber Weekend. Quickly becoming well known calendar dates, Black Friday and Cyber Monday saw many UK stores hit record sales, with many retailers reporting huge year on year increases.
What can we learn from this year’s Cyber Weekend as a whole? Where should online and offline retailers alike focus their efforts next year?
Firstly, many retailers reported huge sales on Black Friday, many reporting more sales on Friday than on Monday. This could spell the birth of a huge day in the UK’s shopping calendar. Whilst a number of retailers, such as Next, focused their efforts on Cyber Monday, it may be a good idea to start discounting on Friday instead, as this is when increasing numbers of UK consumers may begin hunting for bargains. This applies to online, multichannel and offline retailers.
We also saw a trend with many retailers offering specific discounts throughout the weekend, encouraging customers to keep checking back for new offers every few hours. This is an excellent idea, and will ensure that many consumers will visit your site multiple times in the hope of finding something to catch their eye. It may even result in multiple orders from one customer, particularly if free delivery is an option. House of Fraser focused on this type of sale.
Finally, many online retailers may need to consider their hosting solutions carefully in the run-up to next year’s Cyber Weekend! This year, we saw Argos, Currys and John Lewis all crumble under the pressure, alongside many other online stores. Whilst some retailers, such as Currys, implemented a queuing system, this simply pushed potential customers away from the site and to other competitors. It’s definitely worth discussing scalability with your hosting provider before the next Cyber Weekend, otherwise your competitors will reap the benefits.
It’s truly fascinating watching how the Cyber Weekend, and in particular the phenomenon of Black Friday are growing in popularity in the UK. Nobody knows for sure what next year will bring, but we’re predicting more websites going down, and more supermarket scuffles.