In the run up to this year’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, we all noticed retailers introducing seasonal discounts much earlier in the month, with both consumers and merchants alike anticipating potential supply chain issues and longer delivery lead times. We sat down as a team and discussed the different learning points taken from Black Friday in 2021.
The hype around Black Friday seems to start earlier and earlier every year, so the conundrum we all face as consumers is when to shop for that heavily discounted bargain.
Results from an analysis on Google Trends data shows that search interest in Black Friday sales is starting earlier, which indicates that retailers have been kicking off their Black Friday sale events earlier in a bid to entice the early-bird consumers each year. Back in 2014, search interest in the term “Black Friday” started to rise 7 weeks before the actual date. This year, search interest in the term had already started 12 weeks before Black Friday.
Therefore, this leave consumers in a quandary as to when is the optimum time to get that deal – should I buy now or wait? If I wait will it sell out, or will it get even further discounted, or will the price remain the same?
It will be interesting to see how the stats play out post Black Friday as to how successful it was and whether consumers spent early to secure those discounted bargains or hang on until the actual day!
Ahead of the holiday shopping period, Forter, the eCommerce revenue optimisation company, predicted promising growth in order volumes for merchants, even when compared to last year’s unprecedented spike in online sales. Data from Forter’s global network indicated that at the beginning of November 2021, the number of transactions was higher than during the same period in 2020, “thanks to increased volumes at pure-play retailers”, noted Aaron Begner, GM of Forter EMEA.
According to The Guardian, the UK had rung up its “biggest Black Friday sales day ever”, with data suggesting shoppers had spent more than one-fifth more than last year as the high street recovered from numerous lockdowns. Barclaycard stated payments were up by 23% between midnight and 5pm compared with the same period in 2020 and were up 2.4% on 2019.
Some say that Black Friday is the ultimate test of whether the pandemic has changed our spending habits for good, yet with supply chain issues continuing and COVID-19 still lingering, it’s difficult to get a clear picture. Analysis of consumer behaviour in 2022 may be the real test.
During the weekend of Black Friday supply chain disruptions are the biggest concern for UK retailers, with 64% listing it as their biggest challenge. This is not surprising when retailers see a 26% increase in sales at this time of year. Considering Black Friday is one day, possibly a weekend at most, meticulous planning goes into this sale, especially from a logistics perspective. Not only are retailers needing to over-order their stock and get this shipped to stores ahead of the sales weekend, but couriers also need to plan for the surge in deliveries estimated to hit depots and the increase in workforces needed to sort and deliver the additional stock. AI and robotics can be a huge benefit during these busy periods. Not to mention, thanks to the huge increase in the amount of data we generate, as well as the retailers’ ability to capture and analyse data, today it’s possible for them to predict what we will spend our money on with greater accuracy than ever before, with the additional benefit of having minimum surplus stock. Implementing the right technological solutions whilst also easing workload and improving efficiency within the supply chain will be invaluable at this time of year.
The past year or so has meant that many retailers had to close their doors and shift to the ecommerce space and, while this does create efficiency for the customer, it also provides a perfect environment for criminals to launch a variety of attacks such as scams, phishing, and cyber-attacks. Peak holiday shopping seasons such as Black Friday means a crazy amount of spending and shoppers need to be extra cautious about how they shop online.
You’ll also have heard it a million times but making sure you have a strong password is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself from hackers. A 2018 study found that 74% of data breaches start with privileged credential abuse. Also, watch out for fake or unsecure websites, and don’t click on links or sign ups just because you think you might miss out on a deal (that might be too good to be true). You don’t want to end up on someone’s sucker list.
This Black Friday weekend, I couldn’t help but notice how my inbox was inundated with deals and promotional emails. Typically a nuisance at worst, this year’s wave of emails from my favourite brands seemed more ominous after weeks of reading and writing about brand impersonation scams. Even in the last year or so, my friends and I have commented on the number of texts we received from “Royal Mail” about parcels we weren’t waiting for, or from a mobile phone carrier we don’t use about a missed payment. This is the first year that I considered that my Black Friday emails could also be a scam. Sometimes scammers just try their luck, but other times phishing scams are more targeted, informed by scraping campaigns launched against some of your favourite brands, or one of their many vendors. It is important that the private and public sector work together on this issue, through a combination of legal crackdowns on these types of scams and private companies taking responsibility for their data security, using robust brand protection and data classification solutions that keep customer data safe from attackers year-round.
This year’s Black Friday sales appeared to me to be more contradictory than ever. Taking place in the wake of COP26, Black Friday epitomises the toxic mass consumerism that is having a devastating impact on the planet. I was glad to see greater discourse in the media around this issue, with many independent companies vowing to boycott the event, instead advocating for ‘slower’ and more sustainable consumer practices. Also, the extraordinary rise in the risk of scams over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period is something to be noted. I was surprised to read that young people are more likely to be victims, as we often assume older generations who are less cyber savvy are more susceptible to this kind of fraud.