Retailers geared to drive over £1 billion in sales (if it goes without a hitch)

Black Friday has become a truly noteworthy event for retailers across Europe in the last few years since arriving from America in 2010. Last year, close to £1 billion was spent on Black Friday alone in the UK. Arguably, however, sales could have been even higher as the day was hit by its own ‘black mark’.

Initially, online retailers experienced more traffic than they had ever had before. During the course of the morning though, a few websites started crashing and could only offer a limited service, some of them major websites like Currys, PC World and Game along with several cashback sites.

According to Webgains, data from the performance marketing network last year suggests more than 10% of the total e-commerce volume for the month of November was turned over on this one day. This is compared to just a few years ago when much of the sales curves remained about the same.

Despite the date’s continued popularity on this side of the Atlantic, however, Webgains warns that even a problem during the final 10 days of November can have serious consequences, as nearly half the month’s sales are made during these short time frames and 15% of all annual e-commerce sales are generated during November.

“With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Singles Day proving so valuable to retailers”, says Webgains; “don’t be surprised to see every other day of the week given its own moniker at some point in the future as retailers attempt to increase their yields”.

Personalisation could get the edge on promotions

Think Black Friday and you think slashed costs and jaw-dropping deals, but research by Harris Interactive with ad platform Sizmek finds this may not be the best way to the consumer’s heart.

Instead, the research found that four in 10 (40%) of consumers do not take advantage of Black Friday offers, while almost half (49%) would engage with an ad that was personalised to the brands or products they like.

Personalised ads are particularly popular among millennials, with almost three quarters saying they would be inclined to engage with an ad aligned to their preferences, with 70% of millennials and nearly half (48%) of 25-54-year-olds prefer to engage with an ad related to their location.

In addition to serving bespoke ads, advertisers also need to be mindful of the format of the ads they serve if they want to capture consumer attention on Black Friday. The favoured ad format across all age groups is video; 17% of all consumers rated video as the ad type they’d most likely engage with. The lowest ranking ad format was Flash (5%).

PC still expected to be “device of choice” for shoppers

Searches on Cyber Monday – the originally dedicated day of the year for online shopping – are expected to be well and truly “outstripped” by Black Friday, according to a report by Bing Ads, investigating expected search habits over the course of Black Friday.

Last year, Black Friday searches using smartphones lead the charge between 5 – 8 am (by 2.1x), with people switching to their tablets for last minute deals after-work, between 4 – 11 pm.  However, Bing can reveal that overall, PC was the device of choice on Black Friday last year, with search queries peaking during the nation’s lunch break, 12 noon till 2 pm (increasing 2.4x).

“For retailers this reveals consumers are looking for deals first thing in the morning, whilst on the go, via their mobile devices,” said Thom Arkestaal, head of insights, EMEA at Bing Ads; “Later, they are transferring their mode of search to tablets, as they begin to wind down and are likely looking to make any last minute purchases.

“However, the vast majority of actual purchases still take place on PC, meaning advertisers should optimise their activity for this platform. Brands must define their strategies with search that reaches beyond the search box and consider how to create the most engaging – and easily accessible – content for their customers.”