Tech Guest Viewpoint: What Retailers Can Learn From Black Friday 2015

BY Jim Prewitt

The big news for retailers this holiday season has been the strong surge in online shopping. It’s not that high online volumes weren’t expected; estimates placed online purchases to be as high as 20% of total holiday sales this year.

It seems we’ve hit a tipping point, however, where online promotions are of equal or greater importance to Black Friday retail success than in-store promotions, and where Cyber Monday has morphed into Cyber Week.

The challenge for many retailers is now how to drive foot traffic into stores and minimize markdowns. Those progressive retailers who have inventory visibility across their network will be better equipped to leverage the volume shift between channels, while others will be scrambling to move product between stores and adjust pricing accordingly. If retailers weren’t convinced of spending to enable seamless omnichannel capabilities before, they are certainly hearing the wakeup call now.

Here are a couple of thoughts on driving store traffic through the rest of the shopping season by leveraging digital and omnichannel capabilities.

Black Friday 2015 Trend #1: While retailers reported an estimated $1 billion decrease in brick-and-mortar sales on Black Friday, online sales were up 14%. This change shows that “cyber deals” are no longer just for Cyber Monday. This not only indicates a likely shift in priorities for retailers next year, but encourages them to take immediate action to capitalize on digital spending throughout the 2015 holiday season.

What Retailers Can Do to Succeed: The increase in online sales puts pressure on retailers to get the omnichannel experience right and do it profitably. Retailers should maximize the digital aspects of what’s working this holiday season, including driving physical store traffic by promoting the benefits of Buy Online, Pickup In Store (BOPIS) to help drive in-store purchases and impulse buying.

Black Friday 2015 Trend #2: This year, we’ve seen the line blur between when traditional Black Friday sales start, and how long they run, with many starting early in the week and running through the weekend. Retailers are also starting to offer “door buster” deals online as well as in-store, increasing access to the deals and decreasing the need to stand in line.

What Retailers Can Do to Succeed: Targeting digital coupons redeemable in-store has been more common this season and a strong strategy for driving store trips. An additional strategy to move store stock is to offer competitive store pricing, which helps counteract showrooming, where shoppers browse in-store, but buy online.

Higher online sales this year poses challenges not only for the store, but for the overall customer experience. Based on a recent JDA survey, nearly one in four shoppers experienced a home delivery issue during the prior 12 months.

Additionally, of those who opted to use a retailer’s buy online pickup in store (BOPIS) service, nearly 40% experienced an employee-related issue; most commonly issues with long wait times and inability to find orders. These pitfalls negate the convenience of home delivery or BOPIS and could land retailers on consumers’ “naughty” lists.

Meeting customer expectations across channels will have a great impact on customer loyalty and can make or break the brand in the consumer’s mind. The survey also found that 50% of consumers would be unforgiving of retailers who provided less than satisfactory home delivery experiences, taking their business elsewhere. Retailers must make sure they are equipped to handle the increased fulfillment of online orders this season, whether they are fulfilled in a distribution center or a store.

Jim Prewitt is VP of retail industry strategy at JDA Software.


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