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Black Friday: Industry Experts Reflect on Key Day for UK E-Commerce

Black Friday: Industry Experts Reflect on Key Day for UK E-Commerce

With much of Black Friday behind us, the consensus is that high-street sales have been slow, and while it may still be a record-breaking day in overall sales, Cyber Monday could be poised to steal the show next week.

When it comes to exploiting what’s tipped to be a £1.07 billion-grossing day for UK e-commerce, there’s no shortage of punditry out there.

With this in mind, PerformanceIN has showcased some expert viewpoints, highlighting the significance of customer satisfaction, the online-offline connect, and the leading role of mobile.

Nick Fletcher, director of multichannel services, Rakuten Marketing

“The biggest spenders are clearly online this year so with shoppers able to flit between brands to find the best deal, a fantastic customer experience will be crucial to ensure conversions.

“Retailers must connect the experience they offer on mobile, tablet and laptop so that their dialogue with the customer is seamless and above all, not lost to the competition. Overall, those retailers that engage customers throughout the whole weekend will remain front of mind. Brands will need to work especially hard to remind shoppers of items they have expressed interest in to secure sales.”

Daniel Todaro, managing director, Gekko

"With online proving unreliable, the omnichannel experience is now affected. Most who were avoiding the expectant scuffles reverted to online as encouraged by many of the retailers, thus its perceived quietness on the shop floor.

“The strategy however has now resulted in overloaded online systems driving consumers into traditional retail later today and over the weekend which is positive for retailers and brands.

“Black Friday should be one day where if you're lucky you can bag a bargain or two, not an elongated sale period; save that for Boxing Day.”

Jeremy Gidlow, CEO, Intechnica

“After the chaos experienced during the Black Friday sales that happened in stores last year, many shoppers have opted to stay indoors this year. As a result, most retailers have witnessed an unusually large surge in online traffic as consumers shop online.

“However, many websites have implemented queuing systems to help manage the influx of traffic. Tesco’s website began to queue people during the early hours of today. Other retailers such as Argos have been able to stay online and trading thanks to the use of a queue."

Julien Hervouët, CEO & founder, iAdvize

"Staying at home on Black Friday may have been the smartest move given that the best deals can be found online. Not only this, customers see at first glance which items are still available, and this saves them a tremendous amount of time.

"Meanwhile businesses - despite being forewarned about a huge influx of consumers on Black Friday - are unprepared to offer effective customer care, which results in the loss of potential sales.

"There is now a high demand for customer support when online shopping, according to our research. UK consumers want to be able to contact retailers via a variety of channels, ranging from email to live chat and phone. Many do not want to wait for a response of longer than a minute with nearly a third of shoppers abandoning an online purchase due to lack of support.”

James Pepper, technical services director, Vista Retail Support

“If store operators are to avoid bad headlines on Black Friday they need to put technology at the heart of their preparation.

“With increased footfall predicted for Black Friday, retailers need to adopt every method available to make sure shoppers keep coming through their doors. The smartphone is becoming an indispensable tool for many shoppers as they go online to check prices, download information or look for offers and discounts.

“This makes a slick omnichannel experience and installation of completely robust in-store connectivity a necessity for retailers, along with technology such as contactless payments that will cut queueing and ease the customer journey at a stressful time.”

James Westlake, UK country head, Trustpilot

“After a day like Black Friday, shoppers often share their experiences online, both good and bad. Last Black Friday, we saw a 13% increase in reviews left on Trustpilot, and an 11% increase in negative reviews. As a retailer it can be tempting to focus on the quick wins instead of consistently delivering great customer service. However, significant increases in demand over a short period of time can put pressure on various aspects of doing business, from inventory to delivery right to website maintenance and customer support.

“While our data shows that Black Friday places a great strain on businesses, since consumers expect the same high level of customer service no matter what day of the year it is, it also shows that they recover quickly. Over the weekend immediately following Black Friday last year, just 8% of the reviews created were negative compared to an overwhelming 88% positive reviews. It’s clear that the businesses who do best on Black Friday are the ones who prioritise, listen and engage with their customers to build long term, trusting relationships.”

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Mark  Jones

Mark Jones

Editorial Executive at PerformanceIN. Mark reports performance marketing news and manages PI's network of guest contributors.

Originally from Plymouth, Mark studied in Reading and London, eventually earning his Master's in Digital Journalism- before making his return to the West Country to join the PI team in Bristol.

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