Black Friday 2019 is fast approaching and preparations are in full swing – this year the international shopping event will take place on Friday 29 November.

In 2017, it was reported that UK shoppers spent £1.4bn over the Black Friday weekend. Although this figure was not exceeded in 2018, shoppers still spent record levels for a single day, totalling £1.23bn in sales during the event. But, in order for Black Friday to maintain its impact, online sellers need to find ways to stand out from the growing competition, and could benefit from implementing and optimising an effective strategy to maximise the sales opportunity.

As Black Friday becomes more competitive, retailers will need to continue to evolve to increase their chances of success – with that in mind, Velocity Commerce has put together its top predictions for Black Friday 2019:

Black Friday (and Saturday, and Sunday, and Monday. . .)

Over the past couple of years, particularly online, Black Friday has extended further and further beyond the original day itself, becoming a week or two week-long event. This was highlighted in 2018, when there was a 3.6% increase in the quantity of goods bought during the entire month of November. For 2019, eBay has already announced its Black Friday promotions will begin on 1 November and finish on 13 December – with a series of deals available every Friday.

The extended time period for sales, although providing further opportunities, also creates increased pressure on staff and fulfilment teams. Brands will need to forecast and manage stock as accurately as possible to ensure that they are prepared to handle a larger volume of additional orders over an extended time period. Additional support for staff could also be considered depending on the brand.

The top retail categories

The highest performing Black Friday categories have always been consumer technology brands. Consumer tech items, which usually offer very little discount or have high price points that are maintained throughout the year, are in a prime position to do well during Black Friday. For example, brands such as Apple, Sonos, and Playstation offer one-off deals and promotional gifts just for Black Friday, and consumers will hold out for these deals when they’re making big purchases. For Black Friday 2018, Apple offered customers a series of in-store gift cards worth £160 when a purchase was made, and Sonos and Playstation both offered discounts on the most popular products in their ranges.

Conversely, fashion brands have traditionally struggled to gain a share of the sales event despite the increased purchase intent. The revolving door of discounts on fashion items, and the regular calendar of sales events, means consumers are harder to reach with discounts on Black Friday. But, this doesn’t mean there’s not an opportunity for fashion brands, particularly those at the premium end. Last year, Ted Baker made the most of the opportunity and offered 30% off its entire range during Black Friday and it wouldn’t be surprising to see a repeat or replica of this from some premium fashion brands.

Brick and mortar vs. Online

Put off by crowds, in 2018, it was reported that, during the Black Friday weekend, footfall to bricks and mortar stores was down 5.5% from 2017. This is in line with the much reported decline of the high-street, as bricks and mortar stores are struggling to remain competitive with the convenience of online shopping – during Black Friday, online shoppers are steadily increasing year on year as bricks and mortar declines. Out of the increased traffic to online sites, more than 50% of sales are now coming from mobile devices. Due to its convenience, Velocity Commerce predicts that m-commerce will see a major increase for Black Friday 2019 as shoppers seek to make the most of the deals, combined with the convenience of shopping from their devices.

The advantages of online marketplaces during the Black Friday period

In recent years, sales on online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon have been huge over the Black Friday period. In 2018, Amazon reported that Black Friday was its busiest day of the year, and the marketplace held a 26% share of all UK visitors to online retailers. Additionally, eBay reported that it made record sales on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018. With such an increase of traffic to the marketplaces, it’s important to make sure that your brand is visible and offering the best, most competitive deals to drive sales and capture customers visiting the marketplace.

The increase in shopping traffic and heightened purchase intent around the Black Friday period can also be leveraged by brands without having to offer specific Black Friday discounts. Velocity Commerce recommends that, before the Black Friday trading begins in earnest, all brands selling online should take an audit of their listings, make sure the top products have been effectively optimised and that any out of stock or end of line promotions are removed to avoid misdirecting engaged customers.

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