Black Friday – one-off retail frenzy or memorable customer experience?


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black-fridayIs Black Friday a wise and significant event for retailers? Are consumers still buying into it now that it has become a weekend-long event?

Even though 21% of shoppers say they have never missed participating in Black Friday shopping, some retailers in the UK chose not to participate.

Retailers vary in their appetite for Black Friday. Apple, not known for moving on price, traditionally hasn’t taken part. In the UK last year, they did offer a free gift card for 24 hours only with selected purchases rather than pure discounting on the day.

In 2016, Ikea, Homebase and Asda also chose not to take part in Black Friday. Asda being hailed as the company to have brought it over to the UK in the first place. Asda’s spokesman stated: “Following feedback from customers that they wanted low prices throughout the festive season and not just for one day, Asda took the decision to step away from Black Friday.”

Next also turns its back on Black Friday. Next chief executive Lord Wolfson once described “Black Friday” pre-Christmas promotions as “pointless” and they have a very strong annual winter sale which starts on Boxing Day.

According to data from voucher website Vouchercloud John Lewis was the top beneficiary of Black Friday last year followed by Amazon. Game and Debenhams also fared well in 2016.

To coincide with Amazon’s planned 10 day long shopping extravaganza this year, it is opening its first physical store as part of its ongoing commitment to Black Friday. The store will be open for the weekend, from 12.30pm to 7.30pm, 21-24th November at 13 Soho Square, London.

“We’re making Black Friday more fun than ever by holding our first-ever Home of Black Friday pop-up in central London,”

Amazon UK country manager Doug Gurr said.

Is Black Friday a wise move for retailers?
amsterdam-shoppersIf Black Friday is to be a retail frenzy that customers will love, retailers need to make it one that customers will want to repeat. For customers is the experience worth it and for retailers, would they have made the sales anyway? Black Friday should not be a reduced experience for either retailer or consumer. If this were the case, the uplift in sales in unlikely to offset the damage to the long-term relationship and lifetime value of a customer. Black Friday should not be all about the transactional and short term – but also about the long-term connection with customers.

Our simple Black Friday Customer Experience tips:
1. Plan meticulously
• Learn from previous experience
• Anticipate this event
• Have contingencies

2. Neglect retail basics at your peril!
• Stock, choice, frontline staff, customer service staff, deliveries
• Clear messaging- promote in advance, keep customers updated throughout, follow up after
• Think seamless and engaging omnichannel -no point in just offering many channels- understand & proactively manage the customer journeys to give a positive customer experience throughout

3. Align & prepare throughout the whole business
• Frontline staff crucial – have enough, empower them, engage them to deliver a positive experience
• Also need to engage & prepare customer service teams, social media, PR, Supply chain, warehouse & delivery staff. All are crucial in delivering the best experience to customers
• Seek their feedback & ideas

Retailers shouldn’t view Black Friday as a one-off event, merely concerned with beating their competitors’ best offers and bagging early Christmas sales. A more strategic approach is needed, born out of a deep understanding of their customers, aligned with their marketing and brand ambitions and organisational capabilities. Black Friday also presents retailers with an opportunity to look for innovative & creative ways to boost relationships with customers and do things differently.

woman-1329790_1920Building brand value, customer life time value and winning sustainable loyalty need to be uppermost in retailers’ minds. Black Friday customer interactions need to maintain a brand’s story in an authentic way whilst engaging in the customer experience. Think of it as an opportunity to showcase and engage with customers – where the customer’s experience is positive, painless, seamless, and relevant to them. Discover ways to surprise, excite & delight – surely that’s what Christmas is all about.

Making Black Friday a memorable experience for customers for all the right reasons will lead to smiling retailers and happy customers.

Images courtesy of Pixabay.

Amanda Davis

Amanda writes and shares Thought Leadership, drawing on her 15 years of coaching, guiding, mentoring and consulting for clients in various sectors and sizes around the world. She helps establish organisations understand how to connect to customers; find ways to align their expectations with the culture & capability of the organisation. She has a particular focus on customer experience transformation in the digital age, ensuring that technology development starts and finishes with the customer. Amanda has been a regular featured columnist and advisor for Customer Think since 2018.


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