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Black Friday, Singles’ Day and Brexit: what can retailers do to gear up for the challenges ahead of the peak shopping period?

Oct 22, 2019 | Tips & Advice

We look at how discount shopping events such as Black Friday and Singles’ Day impact consumer spending, predictions ahead of Brexit, and what retailers can do to prepare for peak sales periods.

Cooling temperatures, darkening nights and… discount shopping. Autumn is a peak period for eCommerce retailers, with events such as Black Friday kicking off the start of the Christmas shopping season.

The discount holiday has boosted the British retail sector by an impressive £7 billion in recent years, with the majority of sales being made online. Last year saw 194 million website visits on Black Friday with Amazon hitting record-breaking figures. Online retail sites coined in £1.49 billion – a positive 7.3% increase from 2017.

Black Friday Stats

However, many retailers also started their campaigns earlier last year to try to get a competitive advantage. Sales for electricals were up 24% on the Monday leading into Black Friday, while the day itself saw increases of only 6%, suggesting that many consumers were happy to grab the advance deals.

Changing habits ahead of Brexit

Are shoppers changing their habits ahead of Brexit?
With the threat of Brexit looming over this year’s peak period, it’s unsurprising that retailers are feeling more than a little apprehensive. The uncertainty of the outcome is already causing consumers to spend more cautiously, with some saying that they plan to shop around more and reduce their non-essential spending. In PwC’s 2019 Retail Outlook report, it was highlighted that 32% of shoppers still planned to buy items such as clothing in 2019, but would look to purchase more clothes in the sale. Many consumers have also started their Christmas shopping early, amidst concerns over price rises and stock shortages in the case of a no-deal. In light of this, Black Friday may still be a key player with many taking advantage of retailer discounts for their Christmas shopping.

Could Singles’ Day bring an additional spending boom to UK retailers?
Singles’ Day is another holiday beginning to make a noticeable impact to consumer spending. A Chinese shopping phenomenon born out of an anti-Valentine’s Day movement, Singles’ Day has been rapidly spreading as another essential retail event over the busy Winter period, where people buy themselves gifts regardless of their single status.

The event starts at midnight on the 11th November and runs for 24 hours. It is estimated to be four times bigger than Black Friday, with Chinese Amazon equivalent, Alibaba, hitting sales of $1bn in just 85 seconds last year. The spending isn’t contained to China either; a survey by IMRG discovered 78% of shoppers bought from US websites, 72% from the UK, Australia, Germany and France, and 70% from Japan.

Singles Day

This year, UK shoppers are set to treat themselves by spending £1.137 billion on Singles’ Day. This offers huge sales potential for those keen to make the most of this emerging retail extravaganza.

How can retailers prepare for peak shopping?

Discount shopping events are a great opportunity for retailers to attract new customers and maximise their sales. To ensure your operations run as smoothly as possible, there are a few considerations you can make when preparing:

Peak Shopping Part 1

1. Ensure your stock is ready

Get your stock into your warehouse and quality checked as early as possible. You don’t want staff unloading and checking off deliveries when they could be picking and packing orders to go out during your busiest periods. Also consider how you can eliminate the double handling of goods so you can get orders out the door quicker.

2. Plan for fulfilment

Put stock you’re planning to offer deals on into easily accessible locations to make picking as fast and as straightforward as possible. Brief your team on where they’re located and inform them on the best packaging to use.

3. Be realistic with shipping

Speak to your fulfilment team and couriers about the amount of goods you expect to ship during the discount period and when they’re likely to get to customers. If you can’t achieve a next day delivery, don’t offer it to customers as it will negatively impact you in the long run. Offer reassurance by giving customers tracked shipping so they can see where their order is and that it will be delivered securely.

4. Offer easy returns

Returns are inevitable, especially during gift-giving season where there’s an increase in sales volumes. Prepare for peak periods by creating a simple returns process so you can quickly get good stock back on the shelves and keep your customers happy. Ensure the returns process is clear to your customers and check that your packaging is of good quality to better ensure that stock doesn’t get damaged in transit.

If you really want to get ahead of the game…

5. Remember the time difference during international spending holidays!
If you’re planning on cashing in on China’s Singles’ Day you’ll need to get deals on your website as early as possible. China is around eight hours ahead of the UK, so get your products front and centre from the stroke of midnight!

6. Optimise your website
How will your website cope with traffic surges during peak browsing periods? By maintaining high-quality site speed you can better ensure that customers don’t get frustrated with slow-loading pages and put your products in their basket.

7. Reach out to your customers
You can’t expect a flurry of customers to your website if you don’t let them know that you’re going to be offering discounts on your products. Let them know what promotions you’re going to be running by advertising them via email and social media channels prior to them going live.

Peak Shopping Part 2

So, although the 2019 festive season will undoubtedly bring additional challenges, businesses can also capitalise on a growing number of new holiday spending sprees and seasonal selling opportunities. By following the advice above and ensuring your business is set up to make the most of Black Friday, Singles Day and Christmas itself, you can head into 2020 on the back of a prosperous few months.

For more information on how OrderWise can help you manage operations during peak trading periods, call our team on 01522 704083.