The precise reasons behind Asda’s decision to break up with Black Friday will only ever really be known to anyone not involved in the decision itself. But they can be speculated upon with a certain amount of confidence.
Although it received a considerable amount of attention in the mainstream media, the issues around in-store safety will not have been the key consideration. That’s not to downplay the importance of the issue; no one should take the safety and security of customers and staff lightly. But were it nothing more than that, why not run Black Friday as an online-only event?
Could it be that the resilience of the Asda operations and delivery network is the big concern? You would be hard pressed to find a retailer not concerning itself with the resilience of its operations and delivery network at this time of year. But there is nothing to indicate Asda has a greater susceptibility to under performance. In fact, having switched off its plan to open more click-and-collect points across London, and launch its own end-to-end parcel delivery network, if anything that likelihood looks even more, well … unlikely.
When asked by eDelivery, Asda stated that the biggest factor on its non-participation with Black Friday was customer attitudes. Rather than have a lot of offers crammed into one 24 hour period, customers would prefer a longer, more graduated selection of promotions, an Asda spokesperson told us.
We then, to borrow from the Four Tops’ 1967 hit, reached out to readers and asked what do you think about Asda backing away from Black Friday, and what might be the rationale behind such a move? Here is the first batch of responses – we’ll publish more in a day or two.
Markus Juhr-De Benedetti, chief revenue officer, Blue Yonder:
“It is interesting but not surprising that Asda has withdrawn from Black Friday. In the long term Black Friday is not a good thing for retailers, and the scenes from last year show us that it’s not a good thing for the consumer either.
“Blue Yonder conducted research and found that 73% of shoppers had a bad experience last year and has a consequence we are seeing that consumers have been put off – what long term harm does this do for the retail brands?
“All evidence points to the fact that retailer margins will suffer, not only on the day, but the months following. It also found that only 8% see Black Friday / Cyber Monday as a way to start their Christmas shopping.”
Rob Mead, marketing manager at Parcel2go.com:
“It might sound like a good idea, but a flash sale isn’t always good for business. Black Friday is very difficult to do well. You need to maximise incremental revenue without adversely affecting margin.
“Combine that with the extra costs for staff and it can quickly turn from a dream to a nightmare, especially when other businesses such as Next have received rave reviews and strong market signals from not participating last year.”
Chris Cullen, head of sales and marketing at Echo Managed Services:
“Hats off to Asda for taking this position. In my view, Black Friday is a marketing fad that might deliver a short term peak of sales, but also presents brands with significant operational challenges and in some instances drives alarming consumer behaviour.
Mike Danby, CEO of Advanced Supply Chain:
“Black Friday 2014 pushed big brand retailers’ logistics operations to the brink, and indeed some really did buckle under the pressure. It’s a bold move to step back from one of the biggest shopping days of the year, and Asda seems to believe it’s truly what its customers want, but logistical pressures will have also been considered within that decision. If there is any failure in a supply chain around Black Friday, the potential impact on customer experience is considerable.
“Every retailer will blink as to its own Black Friday plans now Asda has called time out. Huge operational pressures are applied in the days surrounding Black Friday, and logistics professionals at the big brand retailers need to be supremely confident in their arrangements and have meticulously planned for every eventuality.”