Retailers ‘must use insight to fight Black Friday fatigue’

christmas 2021_2UK retailers pinning their hopes on a bumper Black Friday instore are being urged to rethink their plans and draw up bespoke data insight-driven online deals to lure customers in and provide a seamless digital shopping experience.

The rise of Black Friday fatigue has been highlighted by an Adobe Analytics study into UK consumers’ shopping habits, which analyses billions of online transactions that have passed through UK retail sites.

It also shows Brits spent £10.4bn online last month; the highest ever online expenditure total in October and 58% higher than in 2019, pre-pandemic. The UK’s year-to-date ecommerce spend has now reached £94bn, up 12% year-on-year.

Adobe has said that it believes the nation will eclipse the figures of last year and set a new record for ecommerce sales, with Christmas still to come.

The study also found UK shoppers are prioritising convenience over hunting down the best price for their items, with 59% fearing prices will be higher this year than last year.

Adobe president of international Paul Robson commented: “UK online spend continues to hit new heights as we come into the crucial Christmas trading period, even outperforming 2020 figures when consumers had little option but to shop online.

“We are seeing a growing scepticism around pre-Christmas discounts and shopping events like Black Friday, with many consumers putting convenience first this year and looking to get all their gifts from a single retailer.

“This presents retailers with a huge opportunity. Those that can target shoppers with bespoke deals to lure them in and provide a seamless digital shopping experience will be this year’s big winners.”

The findings are supported by a separate study from Sitecore, which shows UK consumers are losing interest in Black Friday, with only 40% of the public planning to shop this year and 24% still unsure about buying something on the day.

The Holiday Shopping Trends 2021 report reveals that 40% no longer believe the event offers good deals and the fact that the majority (62%) will have already started their Christmas shopping by Black Friday. Only 4% said they will kick-off their festive shopping during the event.

With 18 months of social distancing and rising infection numbers, it is no surprise that wanting to avoid crowds is one of the top three reasons why UK consumers are not planning to shop on Black Friday (cited by 29% of respondents). The fact the event is now associated with over-consumption (35%) could also be hampering interest.

UK consumers also have different priorities for Christmas this year, wanting to make up for many being away from loved ones last year. Some 58% say they would prefer experience-based gifts over ‘more stuff’ and 65% want the gifts they do buy to mean something, or have a story behind them, so will avoid ‘one-stop shops’.

While the perception that the deals offered on Black Friday are not worth it, perhaps unsurprisingly Brits still love a bargain, with discounting and deals remaining a top priority for consumers. When online shopping this holiday season, early discounts and deals was cited as most important buying factor for 68% of UK consumers. The next most important was exclusive pre-sale deals for loyal customers, valued by nearly half of respondents (47%).

Personalisation is key to true brand success with the right product offered at the right time, the study shows, with 44% of all UK consumers already wanting to be offered personalised suggestions from their favourite brands this holiday season, a figure that increases to 62% among 18- to 44-year-olds.

Sitecore CMO Paige O’Neill said: “The role that Black Friday plays in the lead up to Christmas in the UK is waning. With brands fighting harder than ever to differentiate their offer, there must now be a bigger focus on offering personalised experiences, unique to a brand, rather than just flash sales.

“We know customer expectations have never been higher, and while there is still a place for deals, brands should focus on earning loyalty through an intimate understanding of buyer motivations. If brands then transform this data into personalised content, offers and experiences, they will increase sales.”

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