Sales are the gifts that keeps giving – even when the festive period is over. Last year, consumer response to the Black Friday sales weekend took everyone by surprise with the British public on a mission to bargain hunt, and the initial results from VoucherCodes.co.uk this year highlighting more than 2.9m visits to the site from 26 - 30 November and an 18% increase in the value of retail sales driven through the site during the weekend.
However, even with the huge volumes of sales, we saw a much calmer, more sustained response from shoppers throughout the weekend – helped by the staggered availability of offers from retailers. This staggered approach illustrates an important point; that discounting should be strategic and complement a business's long-term strategy rather than just playing a short-term tactical role.
For some brands, flash sales such as Black Friday continue to offer an excellent opportunity to capture new customers and claim the consumer pound ahead of one of the most competitive times in the retail calendar, but these sales aren’t the be all and end all. We are still seeing traditional shopping dates like Boxing Day hold a large sway with consumers, with 22m people in the UK set to spend a massive £3.74bn on Boxing Day this year – a 6% rise on 2014.
Brands can follow the leads of retail giants Asda, Amazon and Argos and who extended their sales for longer this year, offering shoppers the chance to keep the cost of Christmas low throughout the festive season and still aiming to satisfy consumers’ appetite for a bargain.
From conversations with retailers and customers, it’s clear that securing consumer brand loyalty is more difficult than ever, so, it’s important for retailers to think creatively about how to boost sales, improve customer retention and increase sales online and instore year round. Providing strategic discounts – brand wide or product level – is one such way to achieve all of these things.
Offering money or a percentage off is about more than just driving sales and impacting margins; discounting offers brands the chance to get exposure with new potential customers and re-engage with existing ones. If companies work with a good strategic partner, discounting can be used to boost your customer database, promote products and motivate purchase.
Boosting footfall is clearly one of the key reasons for brands with bricks and mortar stores to offer discounting, and on the high street this could be through using technologies such as geo-fencing and iBeacons to extend promotions beyond the shop window - alerting specific shoppers to sales and in-store deals. Online, targeting customers could be through using aggregated data intelligently to get the right offers to the right group of people at the right time.
Discounting is a good for way for many brands to kick start sales, and give them an edge over competitors but the tactics don’t need to be constrained to a few days in the retail calendar. By being creative, retailers can engage customers throughout the year.
Claire Davenport, General Manager at VoucherCodes.co.uk