Black Friday... A Sign of Changing Times

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One of the biggest shopping days of the year Black Friday is here.  With it comes a golden opportunity for brands and retailers to capture shopper hearts and wallets. 

Research tells us that the U.K. experienced a boom in Black Friday spend last year, as overall sales were up +8% from 2016.  However, there was one major caveat, most of the shopping was done online.  Bricks and mortar businesses need to overcome this hurdle.

One way that stores are trying to gain traction is by turning their Black Friday sales into multi-week-long events.  The longer sales cycle brings with it a more relaxed shopping experience, more time to search, and ultimately results in most shoppers having completed their Black Friday purchases before the day actually arrives.

E-commerce specialists say that the shift away from a one-day Black Friday blitz has created a sort of “golden quarter” for retailers.  By spreading out Black Friday over time, retailers are creating more opportunities to keep shoppers interested even after the sales are over.  In reality, Black Friday is only a small part of a store’s overall success and strategy to stay profitable in an increasingly digital environment.  As consumers, we are all looking for convenience and rely more heavily on digital solutions in our everyday lives.  Grocery retailers need to evolve or risk falling behind those that are leading the way in optimising customer experience through technology.

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Customer insight is the lifeblood to any digital investment.  It builds emotional connections, loyalty and lucrative customer experiences.  Technology is the enabler of a new retail era, so partnerships between suppliers and retailers are essential in delivering a return on investment.  

According to the IGD, 85% of shoppers would like in-store technologies to help them navigate and enhance their shopping experience. They are looking for ease of shop, value via e-vouchers at fixture, and efficient product selection with shopping assistance apps.

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The shopper demands have resulted in an entirely new generation of supermarkets, such as Amazon Fresh and Ocado that operate exclusively through digital storefronts.  Ocado’s ordering system is sleeker than other grocers, as the system is brought to life by robots:

Ocado also sells subscription services to its customer base, which is set to have a significant impact on the future of supermarkets. This gives shoppers options of paying a monthly, or yearly fee and then getting various perks like free delivery and 10% off your orders. A great example of embracing technology whilst fulfilling customer needs.  Although traditional supermarkets aren’t going anywhere, there is a distinct demand for this simple, convenient grocery experience that Ocado delivers.

Campaign Live says that 65% of consumers see themselves using mobile devices more in the future to improve their in-store experience, and that number is only increasing. Retailers need to take heed and continue evolving with the growing technologies or risk falling behind permanently. 

With everything being said and done, people still buy with their eyes and that is a major plus for traditional retailers. Being able to see, touch and experience an item in person before buying is extremely powerful and something that gives the physical market an advantage. 

Black Friday may be here, but if retailers want to remain relevant, then they must understand and respond to changing customer behaviour.

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