Black Friday Winners, Losers and Lessons Learned

The annual Black Friday retail juggernaut rolled on in 2019, with transaction volumes and values reaching record highs. Now the dust has settled, who were the Black Friday winners and losers in 2019, and what lessons can retailers take into their 2020 strategies?

There are few certainties in life, but it seems a pretty safe bet that the annual Black Friday weekend will remain a fixture on the retail calendar for years to come. The figures make for impressive reading – 2019 saw a 16.5% increase in Black Friday sales from the previous year, with Barclaycard alone reporting a 12.5% increase in transaction levels and an incredible 1,184 transactions per second recorded during peak periods.

Footfall in brick and mortar stores unexpectedly increased 3.3% from 2018, but it’s fair to say that online shopping remains the primary vehicle for retail success over the Black Friday weekend. Technology and commercial success are intrinsically linked in 2020, and many of the Black Friday 2019 stories that reached the retail press had technology at their core.

With this in mind, who were the winners and losers from Black Friday 2019? And what lessons can retailers learn from their successes and failures as they continue to operate in a volatile, competitive retail environment?

Black Friday Winners

Black Friday winners kept technology at the heart of their retail strategies in 2019:

  • John Lewis. It would be remiss of us to talk about Black Friday winners and not begin with John Lewis. Over a dominant 11 day promotion cycle, the retailer achieved a 60.4% increase in sales year on year – ascribed to demand for its Black Friday deals and price matching commitment. Part of John Lewis’ success can be attributed to the curated omni-channel experiences they offer, delivering the same exceptional experiences to customers no matter which channel they engage through – whether online, in-store, on their mobile or via their customer service centres.
  • Online fashion retailer Boohoo performed strongly over the Black Friday period, following on from its success in achieving a 43% increase in revenues during its half-year period to 31st August 2019. Boohoo previously acquired the brands Karen Millen, Coast and MissPap, and part of the retailer’s success lay in integrating these brands with its own PrettyLittleThing and Nasty Gal labels onto a single commerce platform. This provides a compelling lesson for retailers around the importance of maintaining an infrastructure that can handle multiple integrated workloads with often high levels of complexity.

Black Friday Losers

For 2019’s Black Friday losers, technology woes invariably played a part in their struggles:

  • The national press reported that over the Black Friday weekend online Superdrug shoppers were billed multiple times for purchases that failed at checkout, leaving them out of pocket for several days. This was a frustrating experience for customers, potentially damaging their perception of Superdrug and reducing their future spend with the retailer. The lesson learned is a simple one – ensure your website and supporting technologies are able to deal with peaks in activity and deliver a smooth, seamless experience for visitors at all times.
  • It wasn’t just retailers that suffered from technology failures during the Black Friday period. Retail banking giant NatWest suffered a major outage across its mobile app and online banking platforms, preventing customers from accessing online services and leaving them unable to keep tabs on their spending and account balances. All retailers should undertake continual testing and optimisation activities, planning for events such as Black Friday where engagement will increase and customers will expect a high quality service if they are to part with their money.

2020 Retail Resolutions

Black Friday 2019 saw a number of winners and losers across the retail landscape, but recent announcements of poor overall figures in December are a stark reminder of the challenges retailers face in maintaining sales throughout the Golder Quarter and beyond. So what are your 2020 retail resolutions for making the coming year a success? At Six Degrees, we believe your retail resolutions should focus on one thing: customer experience.

Customer experience is everything, and technology lays the foundations for delivering great experiences. Establish how technology facilitates the entire buying journey, and continually test and optimise your systems – efficiencies in your technology and processes invariably go hand-in-hand with smoother, seamless customer pathways.

Six Degrees has worked as a strategic technology partner to retailers for over 15 years. Our solutions deliver business agility, resource efficiencies and cost savings, as well as enhancing business data management and real-time analytics that allow you to prioritise, add value and curate experiences that keep customers coming back.

If you’d like to learn more, come along to our breakfast event on 27 February to discover a more agile approach to meeting the ever-evolving demands of customers and end users. 

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