This year, Black Friday will take place on the 26th November. Now considered one of the most significant shopping events on the retail calendar, there is no denying that UK small businesses’ must not ignore the novelty despite it being over-exhausted by online retail giants. Real Business predicts what Black Friday will look like in 2021 and recommends what you should be doing in order to compete in the saturated market of retail.
Black Friday is a colloquial term for the Friday following Thanksgiving Day. Typically, Americans are off work during this time; this obviously being a different story for retail workers and for us in the UK. Despite this, the Black Friday tradition is only becoming more popular among consumers.
Since officially being exposed to the UK markets in 2010, Black Friday has attracted huge consumer interest, as retailers tend to drop the prices of their stock to encourage buyers, and ultimately kick off the festive trading period.
With a continuing pandemic, a hiring crisis, the chaos of Brexit, supply chain disruptions, and inflation, there is no doubt that the festive period may represent a resurgence of panic-buying, dwindled in the importance of consumerism. With some stores, including toy retailer The Entertainer, “urging shoppers to buy gifts early given the possibility of shortages closer to Christmas Day”.
To some, Black Friday officially launches the six-week festive shopping period, however, many retailers may have to alter their typical Black Friday selling strategy.
As our shops will focus on stocking the most in-demand items while avoiding the problems with the supply chain, we mustn’t expect them to hold much inventory, carrying less variations and sizes.
Additionally, Black Friday has steadily been leaning towards becoming more of an online event for many years now, and 2021 is no different. Particularly in the pandemic-stricken world we find ourselves in, shopping from home will allow consumers to avoid crowds. E-commerce is also conductive to price comparison, now that the consumer has a reduced disposable income, online shopping offers a low-stress alternative to shopping in the likes of the Trafford Centre or Westfield.
The Influence of Amazon
More than 65,000 UK SMEs sell on Amazon, and around 65% of those distribute their merchandise around the world. However, our local retailers, having already been hugely affected by the torments of online shopping at large national retailers during the pandemic, are now being disproportionately hit by delays and shortages among other supply chain disruptions ahead of the festive period. Giants such as Amazon, who rely on their own shipments and planes to distribute their merchandise are overhauling independent shops whose resources are incomparable and are often last in line of the wholesalers due to their reduced economies of scale.
The supply chain goes beyond the distributors, as smaller manufacturers contend that they’re having difficulty securing raw materials such as cotton and paper, alongside the UK’s staffing crisis, this has led to a pile-up of orders, just in time for Christmas.
Make this Black Friday count
Despite the pressures of the external influences SMEs are surrounded by in 2021, retailers will still make a substantial percentage of their yearly revenues during this 75–90 day period. As an SME retailer, it is your responsibility to now make that count.
It might be the time to re-consider your pricing strategy to ensure you attract the attention of your target market against your competitors. However, although the consumer is expecting a compelling discount, you could offer something more. You could combine the Black Friday deals with your loyalty program, and double the points for purchases made on that day. This is one of the savviest strategies for a marketer, and it also costs you next-to-nothing.
Another alternative is offering an incentive to purchasing at your shop. You could offer a gift with every purchase, which ultimately increases the average order value without hurting your profit margins.
If you have the resources in place, 2021 might be the year that you redefine Black Friday for your brand. Why not create a campaign dedicated for the weekend? This is your opportunity to make the sale memorable for the consumer, so every variable contributes to the overall experience with your brand. Your social media, email marketing and your visual merchandising must all align. Whether that be colours, slogans, a memorable and distinctive discount, or the timing of your messages must be consistent across all mediums to name a few. Luckily, there are creative ways to catch the attention of your audiences before they are exhausted by the e-commerce giants of ‘Amazon’ and ‘Very’.
Online retailer ‘Very’ have already commenced their Black Friday sales 3 weeks before the date. So, why don’t you? You could also recommend products, so the consumer knows where to start looking in your store or online.
“This year, the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the supply issue associated with the shortage of HGV drivers… will unfortunately cause further issues for bricks and mortar retailers over the Christmas trading period” says Insights director at Springboard, Diane Wehrle.
Stock availability is a global problem, so if you’re struggling to meet the demand of the consumer it’s important to ensure that you don’t oversell. This could ultimately affect customer loyalty, leading to greater issues.
Use this as an opportunity to get savvy with your marketing strategy, and look at alternative avenues to attract new customers, maintain existing ones and enhance brand awareness without it putting a blow to your inventory system and profit margins.