UK retailers were today expected to rake in £2.44bn as shoppers hit the Black Friday sales. While the annual marketing frenzy may result in a sparkling top line, there’s a growing view it can have a damaging long term impact on a retailer’s profits and brand. Here we examine the dark side of Black Friday, and share our three steps to a customer centered campaign.
Black Friday – a bleak customer experience
The headlines tell us all we need to know about the Black Friday customer experience in-store. Screamers such as Black Friday madness as frantic shoppers fight over TVs and Black Friday STAMPEDE! have become an unwelcome annual tradition. Shoppers are physically getting hurt.
Then there is the typical online experience that has customers pounding the UNSUBSCRIBE button. In the weeks leading up to Black Friday they are deluged with irrelevant offers for washing machines (who needs more than one?) or shapeless, end of line clothing stock. It’s akin to sending customers a cheery message saying: ‘I don’t know who you are, don’t really care, but here’s some stock I want to get rid of.’
The benefits joining the Black Friday bandwagon are negligible for both retailers and their customers. In 2017 there was more than one profit warning from UK retailers blaming heavy discounting in the run up to Christmas. As for the customers, one in five UK shoppers regret Black Friday purchases. In short, retailers are giving customers a rotten experience both on and offline for little gain.
It doesn’t have to be this way…
Three steps to a customer focused Black Friday campaign
The answer lies in personalisation. A data-led Black Friday campaign that allows your customer to leave with a bargain and a good feeling about their shopping experience. Not a desperate grab for new customers who are unlikely to ever become loyal when the relationship starts with heavy discounting. Here are three steps to executing a smarter Black Friday campaign – that will keep your brand in tact:
1.) Personalise, personalise, personalise
Today’s retailers have technology available to them to know that we bought a washing machine only last year, or that our body shape means we really won’t rock a trapeze dress. It is truly time to ditch the irrelevant offers and show customers that you know who they are. This starts with personalised online marketing in the run up to Black Friday.
HOLM’s technology, for example, allows apparel retailers to automatically tailor the online marketing of their Black Friday stock according to their customers’ body shapes. Imagine receiving a Black Friday email full of sale items that would actually suit you! Imagine an email you can send to friends and family so they buy something you will actually love wearing (and not have to secretly return)!
2.) Customers not cattle
How to handle those stampedes in store? The answer lies again in a personalised approach to the Black Friday shopping experience. One size fits all just doesn’t work: if you point a hundred customers towards the same television and raise the starting gate, there will be injuries. What if you directed them instead towards the best television for their personal needs and allowed them to buy it offline?
Customers of fashion retailers using HOLM’s technology, for example, can avoid the tussle over that last coat on the rack. As customers would be heading for different garments in the first place.
3.) Don’t discount to start with
This is a controversial solution, but one to which more and more fashion retailers are waking up to. Fat Face for example has always opted out, saying they will stick with four discount periods per annum and it’s a nice touch the brand still contributes to charities linked to turnover during the Black Friday period. Fat Face are outperforming the current tough market.
At HOLM we believe that ‘value’ is not synonymous with ‘discount’. A retailer that offers value is one that directs their customer to the right product, first time, all year round. This can only be achieved by a long term effort to collect, understand and act on customer data rather than relying on false bargains to lure them in. Heavy discounts just imply your brand stands for little, that you overprice normal RSPs and you’re now selling ‘what’s left’.
Which may have been true in January, but mid season?
HOLM’s in-store personal styling technology matches clothes to customers depending on their body shape (one of more than 4,000 body shapes for women alone, calculated by clever algorithms). Our USP is accurate recommendation from the customer’s first visit. It’s a fast ‘express styling service’ for customers that they don’t need to book with a wow factor that simply feels like a magical experience. Following a two-minute measuring process by your sales staff (theatre – tick, customer service – tick), shoppers are presented with a ranked list of garments that are guaranteed to make them look great! Not simply be the right size.
The result? Delighted, loyal customers who are instantly gratified to ‘feel good’ who cannot then stop themselves from promoting their experience by word of mouth; a thriving, experience led, bricks-and-mortar store and a customer profile (data set) that boosts sales across all channels, more than halving online returns. Happy and motivated staff too, hitting their targets. By using an application that’s been carefully designed for simplicity and ease of use (so training is minimal). Where they now have the ascendancy to advise and help customers like never before.