3 retail trends to help you gear up for Black Friday

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Black Friday. For customers, the term conjures up images of slashed prices, stampedes, and brand new flatscreen TVs. For retailers, these two words may inspire feelings ranging from excitement to sheer terror. To help navigate such a hectic season, we used our market intelligence tool BrandGeek to take a look at 2016 Black Friday weekend data for a few different retail clients. Read on to see what we learned and get some tips on how to keep customers satisfied when tensions are high.

Know your promotions

For one of our retail clients, we measured Overall Satisfaction scores in each department. There was a noticeable dip in their home department scores in the month of November, so we dug into each sub-department to see if there was a deeper explanation. Sure enough, one sub-department was dragging down the overall home department satisfaction scores: small appliance/housewares.

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We looked deeper into the comments of customers who reported they shopped this area of the store to find out more about their experience. The data revealed complaints were centered on confusion over a special rebate offer. Many customers chose specific items because of the rebate offer attached, but when they got to the register, the associates didn’t know or clearly communicate the details of how to redeem it.

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Customers expect special deals and offers during Black Friday—that’s the foundation of its appeal. To keep customers satisfied, even when shopping conditions are tense and hectic, take extra care to get your front line informed on every promotion going on throughout the store. With many price-sensitive customers coming through the door over the weekend, helping them understand how the promotions work will go far in keeping them satisfied and boosting your brand image.

Customers go out of their way for a deal

Black Friday weekend has grown and changed in big ways since its inception in 1952—and not without its fair share of criticism and controversy. Some retailers might question whether or not offering a promotion is even worth the hassle of getting all the extra logistics in place to make the weekend run smoothly. Using BrandGeek, which reports behavioral data and near-real time feedback collected by SurveyMini®, we took a look at overall trip motivation, as well as visit share data for one of our retail clients to see what we could learn.

Looking at the trip motivation data, we noticed a change in responses recorded on Black Friday. Location Convenience, Previous Positive Experience, and Selection of Merchandise scores went down—and to no one’s surprise, Coupon/Promotion scores went up. This tells us customers are willing to go out of their way to participate in a promotion they feel is worth the trip.

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One of our retail clients chose not to offer a Black Friday promotion, so we took a look at the visit share dispersion of their regular customers on Black Friday. We discovered only 10% of their usual customers shopped their stores on Black Friday. Not only that, but they lost 17%–20% of their visit share to their top 3 competitors—who did offer promotions.

From that data, you can see how crucial it is to know what’s motivating your customers’ shopping trips and how to live up to their expectations. If your brand is questioning whether or not a promotion is worth the hassle this Black Friday, it’s worth considering the cost of losing significant visit share to your competitors.

Deliver on your promises

Part of the frenzy around Black Friday in the past revolved around scarcity of the items on a limited time discount offer. Most of us have seen the videos of customers pushing and shoving their way to snag a deal—and it certainly isn’t pretty. More recently it seems retailers have figured out smarter ways to make sure everyone gets what they want without risking their limbs or lives—either by offering a rain check or utilizing their e-commerce capabilities.

To get a better sense of customer needs, one of our survey questions for another retail client asked whether or not customers purchased everything they intended during Black Friday. The data showed 1 in 5 customers did not purchase everything they intended during the event. We dug deeper into that data and discovered the primary reason they left without purchasing was due to the item being out of stock.

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While that’s a common reason for non-purchasers, the departments where these customers were shopping were out of the two most-advertised items on promotion that day. Preparing for Black Friday traffic can be tricky—but making sure your most-advertised and desirable items on sale are well-stocked and available is a no-brainer.

Thinking outside the box to ensure every customer leaves with what they want will absolutely leave them with an awesome impression of your brand—and is sure to inspire more loyalty all year round. Consider implementing things like rain checks, or letting your customers buy it in-store and ship it to their home free of charge. That way your customers can shop safely and leave happy.

Bottom line

Black Friday is a stressful weekend for customers and retailers alike. But with the right preparation, you can easily overcome some of the biggest issues retailers normally face. To gear up for the weekend, be sure to:

  • Ensure your associates and customers understand every promotion
  • Consider the consequences of not offering a promotion
  • Keep your promotional items available for every customer

Keeping these strategies in mind will make Black Friday madness a thing of the past—and boost your loyalty in the process.

Curious how you stack up against your competition this holiday season? Our BrandGeek tool can help you learn more. Check out the details here.

Peter Berger
VP, Customer Engagement

Customer Experience Update