Retail sales growth slowed in September as consumers struggled with higher housing and fuel costs, according to the latest data from the British Retail Consortium. Economic uncertainty means people are prioritising spending on necessities and around two-thirds (67%) of adults are spending less on non-essentials and cutting back on everything else.
However, considering budget sensitives, consumers have come to recognise Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) as a period where prices are at their lowest, with many pre-planning what they’re going to purchase. Data from Shopify has revealed that 53% of UK shoppers are allocating more money to spend during BFCM 2023 than in previous years.
With people being more planned with their spending, sales could see success with big-ticket items or near-future necessities, such as household appliances or festive gifts, which people know they will need and can get at a perceived bargain price. Pre-Christmas promotions could also help retailers measure shopper demand and avoid product shortages, which could be a big problem this year.
Throughout peak times like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when website traffic surges, users still expect a seamless experience and intuitive responses. Even the slightest delays, glitches or cumbersome processes can quickly lead to frustration. Therefore, retailers need to prepare for the sales period by investing in reliable, scalable and agile hosting infrastructure without compromising on speed or functionality.
Here are three trends I anticipate are on the horizon this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
1. Optimising mobile-friendly websites
It comes as no surprise that many people are accessing websites on the go. If retailers want to be successful this Black Friday and Cyber Monday, they must prioritise seamless integrations with multiple digital touchpoints.
As more customers move online, it’s essential to have a responsive, mobile-friendly website that delivers seamless and frictionless experiences to users on smartphones and tablets. By ensuring compatibility across different devices and platforms, retailers will provide a consistent experience regardless of the user’s preferred digital touchpoint.
However, this digital push can come at the expense of vulnerable customers who struggle to navigate complex websites that are not always user-friendly. This is also true for older and neurodivergent customers who might require further customer support. However, these customers are often only directed to a very unhelpful FAQ section.
It’s particularly important for smaller businesses to digitise to increase their visibility and further develop customer intimacy this Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, this will only be fully realised if they don’t digitally exclude customers who still require human interaction should they need further customer support.
2. The power of personalisation
To harness the full potential of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, retailers should invest in advanced analytics and data-driven insights. By analysing user behaviour, preferences and shopping history, businesses can provide tailored recommendations and services that directly address the individual needs of each shopper.
M-commerce (mobile commerce) establishes personalised connections with customers directly on their mobile devices, offering features such as push notifications, one-click purchases, location-based services and tailored recommendations. These capabilities unlock new avenues for businesses to bolster customer loyalty and propel sales growth. This level of convenience and personalisation has the power to significantly elevate user satisfaction which is appealing to discerning consumers who seek value and appreciation in their shopping journeys.
Retailers can also leverage the collection and analysis of data from digital interactions to enhance post-purchase experiences. By offering real-time order tracking capabilities, customers gain the ability to closely monitor the status of their orders. And this is whether they are being shipped to their doorstep or readied for in-store pickup. This transparency aims to reassure customers and streamline their experiences amidst economic challenges.
3. Increased bandwidth capacity
For retailers aiming to maximise their success during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, a crucial strategy involves optimising bandwidth capacity (the maximum rate of data transfer across a network). This is essential for ensuring a smooth and hassle-free shopping experience, even in the face of heavy online traffic loads, preventing slowdowns or crashes that can be detrimental to sales.
Retailers should implement technology solutions that automate the adjustment of bandwidth capacity in response to surges in traffic. When a significant influx of shoppers is detected, the system seamlessly dials up bandwidth capacity to accommodate the demand. Once the peak shopping period subsides, it automatically dials back down to conserve resources. This ensures that retailers only pay for the bandwidth they require while guaranteeing their websites remain consistently active and responsive.
Alongside this, retailers must streamline the checkout processes by implementing guest checkout options and enabling autofill features to improve the speed of conversion during crucial sales periods.
As we approach Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the retail landscape is adapting to changing consumer behaviours influenced by economic challenges. Acknowledging the shift towards prioritising essential spending, retailers must focus on optimising mobile-friendly websites to cater to the increasing number of users accessing platforms on the go. While digitisation is crucial for visibility and customer intimacy, it’s imperative not to exclude vulnerable customers who may struggle with complex interfaces.
Furthermore, the power of personalisation can’t be overstated. Retailers should invest in advanced analytics to tailor recommendations and services, fostering individualised connections with customers.
As we navigate the surge in online traffic during the sales season, retailers must also prioritise increased bandwidth capacity to ensure a smooth shopping experience. By implementing technology solutions that dynamically adjust bandwidth in response to traffic surges, retailers can prevent slowdowns or crashes that could be detrimental to sales. By staying attuned to these trends and investing in reliable infrastructure, retailers can navigate the challenges of the cost of living crisis and capitalise on the opportunities presented by Black Friday and Cyber Monday.