Fergal O’Carroll, CRO at Scurri discusses the potential impact of the World Cup on Black Friday, as well as reviewing what could be an extremely fraught carrier landscape as the busiest time of year approaches:
With the World Cup taking place over peak season, and England playing the USA at the TV- friendly time of 7pm on Black Friday, what impact will it have on retailers? The truth is, it kind of depends how you look at it. Without wishing to ratchet up the cringe level too much, it could be a game of two halves!
One one hand it could be a massive distraction that takes huge numbers of shoppers out of the loop. On the other, it could be an opportunity to target your campaigns and offers to take advantage of a captive audience. Regardless of where you stand, it’s clear that the World Cup will have some impact on peak season. Given the general difficulty of making predictions about Black Friday shopping habits, it’s fairly safe to say that we can expect the unexpected.
Changing customer behaviour
There are several reasons for concluding that what we know about Black Friday will have little bearing this year. Last year, for example, a rise in discretionary spending saw many online shoppers treat themselves and family to gifts and pampering products.
A 2021 survey of 500 UK consumers found that the most popular purchases included clothing (42%) computer and gaming equipment (26%), and perfumes and fragrances (25%). However, with the general state of the UK economy, inflation, and the energy price cap hike in October, that discretionary spending could well evaporate.
Also, the shift to hybrid working has triggered a huge change in customer behaviour and habits. Meaning, in effect, that buying patterns are going to be turned on their head. With a game going live slap bang in the middle of Black Friday evening, it’s bound to have some impact, especially when you consider how popular that time period is for shopping online.
On the other hand half of the games involving the home nations will take place during working hours. So actually, this may represent an opportunity to get in front of the consumer, as they both work on computers and watch matches on TV.
There’s good reason for suggesting that retailers should avoid targeting customers during the Black Friday game. There will be lots of competition for that critical space. A better approach could be to avoid annoyance, with non-intrusive, relevant content and campaigns to reach online targets before and after matches.
There’s also the ‘grey’ Thursday phenomenon, a trend that has grown year-on-year. In 2021, half of British brands and retailers launched their sales ahead of the day.
Get inventive to compete
There’s no doubt that Black Friday is growing in significance for UK shoppers each year, with many actively searching online for the best deals. To compete with the big players like Amazon, who traditionally capture a huge chunk of this traffic, retailers are going to have to be inventive.
Football related promotion codes, adverts and email subject lines may be the ticket to lure fans into making purchases in advance of settling down to watch their match. And let’s not forget, there are many people that do not have a stake in soccer, so be sure to target those that are not preoccupied by these games.
Assuming you can get the targeting right, and capture your share of website traffic on the big days, the post-purchase experience you offer will play a major role in converting it.
Flexible delivery options
For consumers, a major motivation for shopping online is the convenience, speed, and cost of delivery. We know that the majority of UK shoppers prefer when retailers offer a variety of delivery speeds. This could be standard delivery, click and collect, timed delivery slots, express delivery, you name it. Being able to offer flexible delivery options around Black Friday and peak season this year will be crucial, perhaps more so this year than ever. Royal Mail has announced 19 days of strike action in the lead up to Christmas, which will inevitably mean huge disruption to peak season deliveries.
With less discretionary spending, shoppers will be looking for strong offers on higher value items, so offering free delivery could give a higher conversion rate. When retailers are launching their World Cup campaigns they could offer free shipping for new customers that sign up on purchases over a certain value. They also need to be conscious that they have flexible options including two man delivery services for bulkier items.
One of the main advantages of having the right delivery management solution in place is the flexibility to add new carrier services, and switch between them quickly. Without the hassle and expense of having to integrate each new carrier, you have far more delivery services to choose from.
With so much uncertainty over the impact of the World Cup for retailers, it’s important to control the controllables. The odds of customer disappointment and frustration are considerably higher in peak periods. That’s why avoiding the ‘own goal’ of delivery disappointment is key in safeguarding your customer experience.