Results from this year’s Black Friday event show an increase in sales, with e-commerce once again the clear winner over bricks and mortar retailers.
The amount spent on UK online retail sites on Black Friday 2017 was up by 11.7 per cent to £1.39bn, according to data from IMRG. This was ahead of the original forecast of +9 per cent growth for the day.
Of that spend, 39 per cent of transactions were completed on a smartphone, with the device taking the highest share of sales against desktop and tablet. While this is not the first time this device has accounted for the highest share, it is unusual given Friday was a standard working day (people tend to use the device of most convenience, and many would have had access to their desktops at work).
This stronger-than-expected performance was achieved in spite of a number of factors that could have exerted a negative influence on growth:
• Black Friday was relatively early in 2017 (24 November – it is the fourth Thursday in November, which shifts earlier or later in the month each year), so it occurred before payday for a greater number of people than has been the case over the past few years;
• Businesses in multiple other sectors now run their own Black Friday campaigns, which could divert spend away from retail; however, this doesn’t seem to have caused a particularly significant impact yet, it may be that most people are quite focused on assigning their available income to covering Christmas; and
• Many retailers launch their Black Friday discounting campaigns in advance of the day itself, extending the peak activity over a longer period.
Data from customer relationship experts Optimove confirms the observations and also reveals a positive result for retailers.
Analysis of over 7 million unique e-commerce transactions this Black Friday shows that the average discount on an order decreased by 12 percent compared to last year, whilst the average order amount grew by 9 percent compared to that of 2016.
This suggests that online customers were willing to spend more on more items on Black Friday 2017. The average number of items in an order grew by 7 percent compared to last year’s sales day figures. Customers did not insist on receiving such big discounts in order to complete their transactions.
Pini Yakuel, founder and CEO of Optimove, comments: “As the numbers come in after Black Friday, it is clear that more shoppers are opting to buy online rather than in-store. Which is why it is more important than ever that retailers understand the behaviours and motivations of their online customers.
“Contrary to traditional analysis of the Black Friday phenomenon, our data shows that most of the individuals shopping with a brand on the day are actually returning, rather than completely new, customers. On Black Friday last year, our research showed that 71 percent of shoppers had bought something from the brand before at some stage. And this trend continues.”
He adds: “This year, the share of Black Friday transactions which were made by first-time shoppers decreased by a further 18 percent. Customers’ pre-existing contact with a brand goes some way towards explaining why shoppers have been willing to buy more items without such high discounts this year.
“Despite the supposed ‘death’ of customer loyalty, driven in part by the ease of price comparison online, there are signs that days like Black Friday may be helping retailers to keep customers coming back to their brand. The challenge for retailers is to continue building on this relationship outside of the pre-Christmas and sales period.
“If retailers can continue to exchange value with their online customers – offering specific offers, personalised communications and experiences – then these positive trends can continue into the sparser months, January and beyond.”