Posted: Tuesday 1st September 2015 in Retail Strategy, Thought Leadership.

With the final quarter of the year fast approaching, many UK retailers are planning for Black Friday. The American sale phenomenon, on the Friday following Thanksgiving, sees retailers extend their usual opening hours and offer special promotions in a bid to kick-start the Christmas shopping season. Popular in the US since the early 2000s, it has also become a key date for UK retailers.

Black Friday controversy

Now popular with UK shoppers, the Black Friday event of 2014 gained a great deal of media coverage for all the wrong reasons, as droves of shoppers rushed to take advantage of the one-day sale. Staff at many major stores across the UK were forced to call the police due to the chaos caused by the event. Tesco stores in Greater Manchester became a focal point of the controversy, with seven separate incidents requiring police intervention.

In the aftermath of the event, Greg Mullholland, Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds, and Sir Peter Bottomly, former Conservative Minister raised their concerns. Bottomly commented on the strain placed on police resources; he urged shoppers and retailers to boycott future events. However this seems unlikely as consumers and retailers alike have now embraced Black Friday as the best day to grab a Christmas bargain. The crazed sale behaviour is not unique to the UK. In France, the government sets the times of year that retail sales events can run to manage these behaviours. Could a similar approach be set to hit the UK in the future?

The online impact

Thankfully, the odds of your online store suffering the wrath of wild-eyed shoppers in search of Nutribullets (1 sold every 30 seconds – Black Friday UK 2014) are slim. However many retailers, including John Lewis, Currys and Tesco, experienced stock difficulties and website crashes due to unexpectedly high levels of activity last year. Experts are tipping Black Friday 2015 to be the first £1bn online shopping day in the UK, making it more popular than ever before.

Prepare yourself for Black Friday

If you are planning to run Black Friday promotions, it is essential to be prepared for the flurry of activity you are likely to experience. Below are the key areas for consideration:

  • Stock levels – demand will increase considerably for the event. Do you have enough stock of your top selling items to cope with demand?
  • Delivery – many shoppers were left waiting until mid-December for the goods they ordered online during Black Friday last year. Is your delivery logistics provider up to scratch?
  • Check your site quality – many leading UK retail websites were pushed beyond breaking point last year. Try the Summit Ecommerce Performance Checker to check your site in time to make any necessary amends
  • Impact – what will be the impact on your KPIs? Discounting heavily will obviously inflate your cost of sale, but can you afford to let your competitors gain market share?

At Summit we will be working closely with our clients to address the above concerns and ensure they are Black Friday ready. Are you?

Keep an eye on our blog for more Black Friday insights.