With the tedious inevitability of an unloved season, Black Friday is almost upon us. Retailers the world over will be slowly rubbing their hands over the promise of untold riches and consumers are getting their fighting gear and armour dusted off to go and grab them bargains. However, online merchants and indie traders may be gasping for air in a fit of debilitating panic at the prospect of cutting margins even further in the quest to hit a profit.
All of this for an American engineered tradition, designed to get our colonial cousins off the sofa and out spending the day after Thanks Giving. I suppose we can thank the likes of Wallmart, who had the genius idea of selling TVs the size of small planets for 50p, causing a tidal wave of shopping flavoured hooliganism and over spending the likes of which has not been seen since the Millennium Dome project. Black Friday is big business no mistake, but is it worth it?
StoreFeeder works with merchants of all sizes. We provide a system that gives them scalability to handle a Black Friday stampede any day of the week. When we look at our network and server capacity this time of year it hits a pace unknown throughout the first three quarters of the trading year. Headlines like: This Will be a Trillion Dollar Christmas fly around the internet like bats on amphetamine, fuelling the frenzy and the excitement.
Looking at the numbers, eCommerce grows every year. However, it is the likes of Amazon who managed to take 45% of all online sales on Thanks Giving and 54.9% of all Black Friday online sales last year, closely followed by the likes of Walmart and Best Buy.
It is not disputed that ecommerce is now a dominant force in retail, and that Black Friday will drive millions of customers and billions in revenue. Black Friday is starting to look very much like a club for the behemoths of retail on and offline and maybe as a small trader or merchant, just maybe, it may be worth sitting on the side-lines and just watching the madness unfold?
Let me explain, the world’s largest retailers have been planning their Black Friday campaigns since the lights went down on the last one. In the last few weeks their marketing machines and buying staff have been working tirelessly through teaser campaigns and media leaks to get the punters hyped about the last Friday in November. Thus, ensuring a good turnout. So why not keep your prices as they are? Make sure that you provide a good product and service for a fair price. Utilise your good reviews and just sit back and take advantage of the fact that traffic over that last weekend in November is going to be off the charts and Black Friday or not, some of it is bound to come your way.
Sounds mad? Let’s look at Next. The UK retailer didn’t do Black Friday until last year. It is unknown at time of writing if they will go again this year. Granted they discount through the year, but the big deals come after Christmas. They stay true to their traditional Boxing Day sale (December 26th for you guys outside the UK). The Brits will get up pre-dawn, venture to their local branch and queue. The Brits love queuing. When the doors open at 5 or 6am they’ll pile in – they won’t scrap, they’ll just shop ‘til they drop. Next has preserved this tradition and because of that it still means something. And whilst other retailers cut their margins in November, Next used to hold out because they know they have a Boxing Ace up their sleeve. And the customers love it. The good news for Next is, that going online with Directory has worked well and the online Boxing day sale also produces a digital bonanza giving them another revenue boost.
They may do Black Friday this year, they may not. Many would say not doing Black Friday is madness, but taking advantage of massively inflated online traffic, and huge footfall on the high street by keeping your powder dry for a real sale after Christmas (just like in the old days), may be the method to a peculiar but profitable kind of madness.