Following the immense success of the 2014 Black Friday online sales in the UK, global digital commerce consultants Salmon today predicted that this year’s event on the 27th November will see the first £1bn UK online shopping day.
The prediction comes following a steady increase in online shopping generally, as well as more widespread consumer knowledge of what Black Friday has to offer following last year’s sales. Salmon anticipates a 22% increase in online shoppers making a purchase on Black Friday.
Glen Burson, Chief Technology Officer at Salmon, said: “Black Friday’s surge in sales in November 2014 threw traditional British pre-Christmas shopping habits into disarray. Shoppers, lured to online retailers with significantly discounted flash promotions, spent an estimated £810m online in a single day – almost 50% more than industry experts had predicted.”
Salmon offered a word of warning to online retailers: last year the increased traffic caused a number of issues on more popular websites, including site outages, decreased browsing speed and users having to que on ‘holding pages’ that led to many frustrated buyers abandoning their purchases.
According to a report by Hammerson/Conlumino, 65% of shoppers agreed or strongly agreed that retailers “were not well prepared enough to cope with the demand on Black Friday”.
John Munnelly, Head of Operations at John Lewis Magna Park National Distribution Centre, suggested that “retailers must now get good at being transparent with the capacity we all have in the engine room… if we don’t have fuel to keep the customer promise we’ll pay handsomely after the event”.
During the period covered by Salmon’s study, sales spiked close to 7am, with peak traffic occurring around 9am as shoppers browsed for bargains at the start of the day.
“Overall, we saw an average fourfold increase in traffic for Black Friday compared with other days in the Christmas Shopping period,” Salmon’s report stated.
Salmon provided a checklist for ‘pre-planning’ in the run-up to Black Friday. It advised retailers to thoroughly review their 2014 performance, make a realistic forecast and business plan for peak trading. They urged businesses to capacity-test their websites and establish contingency plans for increased traffic, including the removal of expensive or non-essential site features in the case of an emergency. Finally, they advised to make sure operations teams were prepared, and to have a strong communications plan in place for all personnel.