Last year’s trend of retailers pushing out Black Friday themed promotions in advance of the day itself will become an established part of the UK retail landscape, according to the ecommerce consultancy, Salmon, which is also predicting £5bn will be spent in the four days preceding Black Friday this year.
Unlike Black Friday 2014, which was littered with delivery problems, website crashes, and shop floor punch-ups, 2015 saw the event pass moderately quietly, with most retailers and carriers coping well under pressure.
This was partly down to some retailers – such as Argos – kicking off promotions ahead of the last Friday in November. Other important factors were the decision by Asda to shun the event completely, and Yodel’s announcement that it was going to refuse to accept unplanned next-day Black Friday business from its retail customers.
John Beechen, head of managed services at Salmon, said: “Retailers should think about peak trading as a crisis that they know will happen in advance. Preparation is vital, and retailers should already be considering their business and operational plans for the period.
“Retailers should be ready to take advantage of the heightened consumer interest during peak trading – and avoid long term damage to the brand through poor customer experience.”
The eDelivery View:
It is perhaps unsurprising that Salmon is predicting the Black Friday mega-peak will flatten into a week-long peak, as this works to everyone’s advantage.
The launch of eDelivery coincided with Black Friday 2014, which perhaps makes it easier to call to mind. Back then, before any of the wheels had started coming off at any point in the UK retail delivery network, Dick Stead, executive chairman of Yodel – and one of the most respected figures in the carrier sector today – was calling for this very approach. Retailers, he warned, were causing problems by offering next-day delivery during a shopping frenzy. He had a point.
Stead called for retailers to restrict shoppers’ access to next-day delivery in order to control the flow of deliveries through the carrier network, and – by so doing – flatten out some of the worst excesses of the peaks.
Of course, that didn’t happen. No one was prepared for shoppers’ appetites on Black Friday 2014 and that caused many well publicised problems for retailers and carriers alike.
Some poured scorn on Stead’s idea – in private at least – saying that carriers are there to deliver and should shut up and get on with it … if you can’t stand the heat, as the saying goes. This is clearly an insensible point of view, and reminds me of the story of King Knut, who proved to his advisors that even he couldn’t command the waves and turn back the tide.
Retailers, carriers and shoppers will all benefit from steering future Black Friday events away from the febrile scenes of 2014. The longer promotions are allowed to run the easier it will be for retailers to cope with demand, for carriers to handle volumes, and for shoppers to find their bargain buys.