Black Friday 2018 – What to Expect

Steve Brockway

November 21, 2018

Black Friday has already begun with the first online retailers starting to promote deals a week in advance.

In recent years we’ve seen emerging trends of consumers moving online rather than visiting stores in person. Last year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported an 11% rise in online Black Friday sales compared to 2016.

This is partially due to the fact that so many people have witnessed – or been subjected to – negative experiences when visiting stores on Black Friday. Poor experiences have lasting impacts and the near riots of Black Friday four years ago have encouraged more shoppers to take advantage of the convenience of online buying and browsing.

Yet, Maru/edr insight last year revealed that, despite positive sales results, online Black Friday events are having a lasting impact on retailer’s most loyal customers. It is therefore crucial to understand the importance Black Friday is having both for on-the-day experiences, but also ongoing relationships with customers.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be conducting an analysis of this year’s event and how customers were affected by obtaining feedback, reviewing social media and comparing this to the sales figures.

How Did Retail Fare in 2017 on Black Friday?

Reviewing Maru/edr Brand Advocacy results over the past three years, we’ve seen a trend of scores taking a hit during Black Friday driven by the sheer influx of shoppers that retail sites see.

Deeper analysis shows that ‘bargain hunters’ often flood sites looking for the best deals and often have little to no affinity to the retailer they’re shopping with – in fact, just 17% of Black Friday shoppers claim they only purchase from brands on Black Friday who they usually shop with. Their presence on sites immediately impacts core digital experience factors, such as site speed and product availability, helping to create an experience that regular customers aren’t used it. It means retailers must carefully balance their Black Friday strategy by ensuring deals and discounts don’t come at the expense of their most valuable customers.

Maru/edr Brand Advocacy (Net Promoter Score TM) Black Friday results

However, another interesting trend is emerging: average Brand Advocacy scores are growing year on year during Black Friday, a trend that is likely to continue in 2018.

It demonstrates the positive impact that utilising modern retail strategies (e.g. spreading Black Friday across the week) can have on the overall customer experience. But Black Friday is still negatively impacting on the experiences of their customers overall. It is down to retailers to minimise the experience on their regular customers, whilst attracting new ones through the sales.

Minimising the Black Friday Riots Effect

It is important to appreciate that many of the worst Black Friday stories come from four or five years ago, when the phenomenon was only being introduced into Britain from the USA. This was a new concept; the biggest deals were only available for a very limited amount of time on one day of the year. The scarcity of the discounts available led to increasing demand that stores simply couldn’t respond to effectively.

59% of people recently told us that product availability is a key factor in choosing where to shop. This shows that stock and inventory is a very important customer experience factor for people, especially when it comes to big events like Black Friday and Christmas. Newer sales strategies desgined to help manage demand, such as extending Black Friday over days or weeks, appears to be paying off  – 55% of Black Friday shoppers surveyed by Maru/edr stated that they’ve already made a purchase in the run up to the big day.

Predictions for Black Friday 2018

While retail has faced a tough time of late, we anticipate that there are strong indicators that many of the big retailers will continue to see success in November 2018.

All the indications suggest that online retailers especially will continue to benefit from increased demand during their Black Friday promotions. We also anticipate that more companies will be putting their offers online for longer this year,

Whilst this may have been a difficult year for retail with many store closures, restructures and even bankruptcies, Black Friday often represents a great opportunity for big retail brands to deliver strong numbers in November.

It is more important than ever, under these difficult circumstances, to capture customers online and get them through the doors whilst maintaining profit margins. This is where the customer experience is so important and why Black Friday is such a big event for retailers who have to consider the wider impact of promotions and not just the top-level turnover figures.

We’ll be reporting on the aggregated experiences of genuine Black Friday shoppers again this year. Our retail experts will uncover emerging purchase trends to inform both retail Christmas strategies and Black Friday campaigns in 2019.

Results available early December – contact us for early-indicators and analysis.