While the consumer engagement with the Black Friday retail period can be useful for shifting volume, it is also important that retailers plan for the future, according to the Fujitsu EMEIA retail team’s David Nicholls.
“Retailers of all stripes will be eager to tap into Black Friday fever to flag up sales at the end of a tough year,” he commented. “However, in the rush to respond to heightened consumer demand, they shouldn’t neglect the long-term picture. In fact, Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer the perfect starting point for an enduring strategy that will enable retailers to thrive at a time of digital disruption and unsteady consumer confidence – but retailers need to ensure they’ve got their priorities right.”
He continued: “Although it’s tempting for retailers to focus on shifting as much product as possible, it would be a mistake to prioritise volume over all else. The retailers who ‘win’ Black Friday this year will be those who use it as an opportunity to delight customers with an easy and consistent shopping experience and to build their brand. Ensuring that they are able to deliver completely on their promises through timely delivery and seamless click-and-collect will a key differentiator. The success stories will also ensure that they’re meeting customers wherever they shop, on their own terms, and this involves developing a joined-up multichannel journey across in-store, mobile, social and desktop, and ensuring pricing and the shopping experience is consistent across these.
“However, it’s not enough for retailers to focus on sales moments, such as Black Friday, Christmas, or sporting events. To overcome the headwinds in the marketplace they need to make long-term strategic investments as well as short-term tactical ones, and clever technology deployments will play a key role in not only enabling them to take full advantage of events like Black Friday but also in their long-term future.
“This could be developing Internet of Things-powered supply chains that enable rapid and flexible delivery, creating immersive customer experiences using AR and VR across all touchpoints, or simply using cloud computing platforms that enable the website to deal with sudden peaks in traffic. 2018 has been a rocky road, and going into 2019 retailers need to reduce their reliance on sales events and find an enduring point of advantage.”