4 ways to avoid creating a grey day for your most loyal customers this Black Friday

Steve Brockway

November 15, 2018

The amount spent online in the UK during Black Friday 2017 was up almost 12% year-on-year, according to retailing trade body IMRG.

It suggests that many retailer’s strategies to launch promotions in the days leading up to Black Friday, rather than just on the day itself, helped to drive an extremely strong November trading period. In fact, the ONS reported an increase of 1.1% in the number of goods purchased last November compared to the month previously, with Black Friday discounting driving sales of electrical goods up 2.9% month-on-month.

It’s why IMRG have this year declared the month of ‘Blackvember’.

Black Friday caused a grey day for loyal customers

The positive impact that Black Friday has on the overall market is clear.

However, last year the majority of Black Friday sales were placed online as many leading high street retailers opted to for limited store offers or online-only deals in a bid to avoid the chaos of four years ago.

In fact, John Lewis reported it had the busiest ever single hour of online trading during Black Friday 2017.

All these additional online orders inevitably impacted the overall customer experience for regular shoppers. Maru/edr Black Friday tracking showed a substantial increase in site traffic for leading retail websites was driven by first-time or occasional visitors looking for a bargain.

How do you avoid creating brand detraction from your most loyal customers during a short-term event that creates spikes in demand and negatively impacts the customer experience

These ‘bargain hunters’ were scouring websites looking for the best deal with no affinity or loyalty to brands. But their presence had a measurable impact on key digital cx ratings – Maru/edr recorded a three-point drop in aggregated site speed satisfaction, with ‘out of stock’ ratings tumbling by over eight-points on the day.

Four point plan to ensure success online during Black Friday 2018

Maru/edr on-the-day results demonstrate the impact that Black Friday sales have on the overall customer experience.

Just three years ago, retailers were developing creative strategies to minimise the impact of Black Friday sales on their in-store experience. But with IMRG predicting a further 12.5% increase in online retail sales, retailers must divert their attention to their digital channels.

Maru/edr’s cx analysis over the past four years has highlighted a number of key initiatives retailers can undertake to drive both sales and the optimum digital customer experience.

1. Reward loyal customers

By targeting your most loyal, high-value customers with special previews and exclusive early invites to offers, retailers can avoid issues with both site speed and stock availability by spreading the impact and encouraging key customers onto the site before the bargain hunters hit.

2017 Black Friday loyalty campaign from Timberland

2. Turn spikes into curves

The trend towards a week-long – or even month-long – retail event will continue. This shift away from a one-day sales strategy allows retailers to manage the user experience across an extended period by ensuring websites avoid crashing due to a marked spike in volume and stock demand is adequately managed.

IMRG, Black Friday 2017

3. Do they know it’s Christmas?

Don’t blow your best offers and margins too early  – 61% of 2017 Black Friday shoppers stated that most of their Christmas shopping will still be done in the lead up to the big day itself in December.

4. Listen and act

It’s important to continuously listen to customers and act upon their feedback during this peak trading period for two fundamental reasons:

  • Recover valuable customers who have had a poor experience and proactively intervene
  • Prioritise where to focus and how to develop robust strategies for the future

Digital Voice of the Customer programmes are ideal for capturing the right feedback in the right way. Having pioneered digital experience feedback back in 1999, Maru/edr have a range of tools and best practice know-how that allow retailers to deliver both sales and the optimum digital experience during Black Friday.