Black Friday in the UK

Black Friday has become an important date in the diaries of consumers and SMEs alike. This annual sales event sees both online retailers and stores offering huge discounts and promotions, typically for one day only, unofficially signalling the beginning of the festive shopping period.

In the UK it might seem that Black Friday is a relatively new phenomenon, especially when compared to the U.S. where it has been a well-established shopping event for some time. However, it is now well and truly here and is an event that UK SMEs could potentially capitalise on.

So, for those of you who might not know much about Black Friday or how your business can prepare for it, we’ve created this helpful guide. Read on to find out more about the origins of Black Friday, what effect it can have on UK SMEs, as well as some of the best ways for your business to prepare for this big day of shopping.

The History of Black Friday

So, what do we know about Black Friday’s history and what year did it start?

Originating in the USA, it’s an annual shopping event that immediately follows their Thanksgiving celebrations and it has been an official retail tradition with American consumers and stores since in the 1960s. This year Black Friday is the 24th of November.

We’ve previously written about the origins of Black Friday way back in 2015, but in only two years this event appears to have evolved even more. Using this information and from additional new research, we’ve selected some of the key dates in the history of Black Friday and created this useful timeline.

As you can see, it took many years for the tradition to make its way over to our shores and gain enough exposure to become the event we know today.

2010 was really the first year for big UK retailers like Amazon to jump on the Black Friday bandwagon. After this, it didn’t take very long for others to take notice and follow suit. Every year since 2010, the number of UK businesses participating with their own offer has increased, along with consumer awareness and spending.

Worldwide, predictions show that Black Friday is only going to continue getting bigger and better, mirroring the original rise of the shopping day in the USA. Growth and interest in the event still continues in America. Where for some it’s now an unofficial holiday, with many now given the day off work to shop.

Also, despite the name ‘Black Friday’, deals and promotions can sometimes last the whole weekend and run on to what has now been called ‘Cyber Monday’. With some businesses’ deals lasting up to a week or even longer.

These extended sales periods have now also made their way into the UK retail calendar, with many businesses now offering longer deals on and around Black Friday – which might be something SMEs may also wish to consider with their respective promotions.

The Effect of Black Friday on UK Business and Sales

We’ve done some research to see the impact of the event on UK businesses in recent years and we’ve quickly discovered just how important online buying can be during this time.

It was an ecommerce retailer that was the first to offer Black Friday deals in the UK and many other retailers and SMEs have since also seen strong sales via both their online channels and in store. Online transactions had increased by 12% compared to the previous year

  • £1.23 billion was spent online on that day alone
  • For the entire week, online sales were estimated at a staggering £6.5 billion.

A look at Google Trends also shows that ecommerce continues to be the most popular channel for Black Friday shopping and Google searches for the term ‘Black Friday’ have steadily increased year on year, not just in the UK, but worldwide.

For SMEs and other small businesses, Black Friday could be a profitable venture – particularly through the important ecommerce channels of website and social media

Stats and Figures about Black Friday Sales

To help your business get a better understanding of what customers and clients require around Black Friday, we conducted a survey involving over 500 recipients to find out more about consumer expectations with Black Friday sales.

Almost 94% of the consumers we surveyed confirmed that seeing Black Friday deals would encourage them to buy something on that day. That’s a significant result that suggests consumers could be more receptive to products and services when there’s a Black Friday deal on offer.

The lure of general ‘discounts’ and ‘buy one get one free’ offers were what our recipients considered to be the best Black Friday deals.

Other things that consumers looked out for included free gifts with their purchases and a Black Friday sales period that is longer than 24 hours. The latter possibly being due to the fact they would have more opportunities to find, and make the most of, different deals and offers.

Given the importance of ecommerce on Black Friday sales, it didn’t come as a surprise to discover that online channels were the most popular way for customers to find out about deals, with ‘e-mails’ and ‘website advertisements’ topping the list. However, our survey showed that in-store promotions and social media were also both popular ways for consumers to find out about Black Friday deals in the UK.

Although 41% recipients said that the internet was the main channel they would use to shop the Black Friday sales, a significant proportion said that they would also buy products both in store and online. 20% of our recipients stated that they were more likely to shop in-store, which is still a notably positive percentage for SMEs with bricks-and-mortar locations to consider.

So, with this in mind, what can you do to help fully prepared for Black Friday and ready to generate more sales off the back of your promotions?

An SME’s Guide to Black Friday Preparation

We’ve used this information, some of the feedback from our consumer survey and our own expertise to give you the best tips for preparing for Black Friday:

What to Consider before Black Friday

Research and preparation can be key when preparing your business. Maybe you’ve lessons that you’ve taken away from Black Friday 2016, or it’s a brand-new concept to you and your business, either way, thorough planning and target setting can be essential.

Some things that you may need to think about include:

Which products are your best-sellers? – These can be more likely to sell on Black Friday, so you may need to keep more in-stock.

What kind of things your customers are talking about or interested in? – You could gauge this from social media conversations and your market research and tailor your promotions to suit these interests.

What are your customer expectations for your deliveries? – The chances are you’ll face additional deliveries, be it from increased orders, or the need to order in additional stock. This is where we could help, we have UK parcel delivery servicesinternational shipping services and services dedicated for business parcel delivery that could help you deal with the increased demand. What’s more, we have integrated ecommerce delivery solutions that you can use to manage bulk orders online and which work alongside popular retail platforms.

To assist you even more, we’re running our own Black Friday offer that can see you get 40% off UK to UK premium services, using the discount code BLACK40. This runs from the 21st to the 28th of November, covering you for pre-sales, orders and any additional promotions or aftersales.

How long do you want your offers to last? – As previously mentioned, our consumer survey showed that many of our recipients wanted a longer sales period, so extending your offers might mean opportunities for bigger profits. Take a look at our post on running different Black Friday promotions to get some inspiration.

Additional Preparations and Promotions

In the run up to the Black Friday, you could look to prepare or work on the following:

  • Setting up marketing campaigns to show customers what offers you have available.
  • Promoting your sale in the run up to Black Friday by posting and sharing it on your website and on social media.
  • Making sure your website is prepared for a potential increase in traffic. You can check with your hosting provider or upscale your capacity so that more visitors can be accommodated.
  • Considering taking on temporary team members during this period, either instore or to respond quickly to any customer queries/issues on your website.

Our survey highlighted another important factor that you should consider when preparing your business for Black Friday – what types of delivery options to offer. You can find out more about different logistics solutions from this post we previously produced.

Black Friday Aftersales

Try not to focus solely on Black Friday; your clients are valuable and the service you provide during this event could leave a lasting impression.

While you can consider using our delivery services to prepare your stock early and to help manage your increased orders,  you could also use our delivery solutions for post-Black Friday sales too.

Here are two examples:

  • Cyber Monday always follows Black Friday (on 27th November this year) an online shopping day featuring deals from online retailers.
  • Then, the following Saturday (2nd December) is Small Business Saturday, a campaign to support small businesses and encourage consumers to shop local.

These can both be key dates for SMEs and worth keeping in mind when you’re planning your promotions, supply levels and deliveries.

Additional Support

You might also face additional requests for support or assistance from your customers, so it can be wise to also make sure that any customer queries are answered in a timely way. Providing a quality aftersales service could then help you create a bigger, more-loyal customer base.

All of this can improve your brand value in the long-term and remember, people are likely to be buying your products as Christmas gifts, so this could encourage word of mouth recommendations, opening up a whole new audience to your business.

Are You Ready for Black Friday 2017?

To summarise the key findings from our research; Black Friday is growing in popularity every year and is an incredibly lucrative day for both big businesses and SMEs alike, being the perfect opportunity to bring new customers to your business.

With the right knowledge, planning and preparation, as detailed in this Black Friday guide, you could capitalise on this huge selling opportunity, boosting your Christmas sales and winning new customers for the year ahead.
 

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