It’s only a few weeks to go until one of the most lucrative shopping events in the retail calendar: Black Friday.
The pandemic has spurred a shift to online shopping. And while this may be a temporary trend, estimates from PriceRunner cited by Internet Retailing say that online sales will be up 14% on the previous year.
For retail as a whole, including brick-and-mortar stores, Deloitte predicts seasonal sales will only jump between 1% and 1.5%. That’s significantly lower than the 4.1% uptick witnessed last year. It’s hardly a surprise, though, given localised restrictions in place and people’s risk-averse attitudes to visiting the high street.
All that said, shoppers are craving the more immersive and tangible experience of shopping in-store – now more than ever, after months of living under restrictions and lockdowns.
Retailers are bound to see footfall increase – even if just slightly – around Black Friday. So, how can they make sure they provide a safe, socially distanced and reassuring shopping experience?
While brands should strive to be consistent with pricing across platforms, given the circumstances this year, they could make so-called ‘doorbuster’ discounts available to online shoppers only. For instance, for items that typically sell well over Black Friday – think kitchen appliances, certain kids’ toy lines and gadgets.
If retailers make it clear through marketing that the best savings are online, this may help to thin in-store crowds on Black Friday. It sounds counterintuitive, but consumers could see this as retailers’ understandable efforts to keep shoppers safe.
The new Black Friday
To prevent stores from being jam-packed, brands need good incentives to inspire consumers to begin spending earlier, and on non-peak days.
Bloomberg’s Sarah Halzack suggests brands follow in the footsteps of Nordstrom’s Double Points Day. The initiative sees members of its loyalty scheme pick a certain day in the year where they can gain extra points and rewards. Brands could offer a seasonal version of this – for instance, on any day between October to January – so they feel less compelled to focus their shopping on Black Friday.
In-store traffic, re-imagined
Retailers are already implementing measures to keep everyone safe in-store. As well as signage and traffic flow systems – something The Delta Group can help with – retailers are also removing fixtures to create space.
Bigger retailers might take it one step further for the whole holiday season, temporarily repurposing areas of the store that aren’t currently busy. This may involve, for instance, removing cocktail dresses and suits from the shop floor – which aren’t likely to sell this season – and using the space for lounge wear or workout gear. This will enable shoppers to spread out and feel more comfortable while browsing the racks.
Other measures include mobile checkouts, which will prevent large crowds from gathering at the till point come Black Friday. Also, offering kerbside pick-up as well as in-store counters, which is still convenient for shoppers but will mean they don’t need to go inside a store.
Social distancing means retailers have to set limits on the number of shoppers in-store, which can prove a significant burden for retailers with small store footprints. In this case, the last thing a small shop wants in peak shopping periods is to have customers visiting simply to return an item.
Due to this, retailers should consider lengthening returns, which may encourage shoppers to visit the store in January and February when it’s past the peak shopping period. Another advantage of this is that it could help out e-commerce fulfilment centres; workers can focus on getting orders sent out, rather than dealing with returns during the busiest time of year.
Incentivise slow shipping
Many retailers will likely struggle to keep up with orders on peak days at their warehouses. One way to overcome this is to consider rewarding consumers when they opt for slow shipping. For instance, by taking money off their Black Friday order if they choose 10-day delivery as opposed to 1-2 days.
Doing this would give retailers more time to fulfil orders, plus the more demand they can satisfy online, the easier they’ll find it to prevent crowding in brick-and-mortar stores.
Whichever way you look at it, seasonal shopping is going to be dramatically different this year. The best retailers can do is to strengthen their e-commerce offering, while doing all they can to make sure their physical stores are safe and put shoppers’ minds at ease as they browse the Black Friday deals on offer.
Whether you need help implementing safety measures in-store, or want to boost your marketing strategy for Black Friday and beyond, we can help. Get in touch with The Delta Group today.