It was expected to be the biggest UK shopping day ever, but last week’s Black Friday turned out to be far more flat-footed than many expected.
Unlike last year, when crazed customers tore into stores across the country and fought one another for the best bargain, this year, most people preferred the peace of internet shopping.
Footfall was down nearly 10% on 2014, while online sales were estimated to have passed £1bn on a single day for the first time ever.
Justin Opie, director of the UK’s online retail association, IMRG, said: “The big difference is the industry was much more prepared because it was chaos last year. That was bad for customers and bad for the retailers so everything was much smoother this time.”
While this is undoubtedly true, the rise in popularity of digital platforms is also shaping the way we shop. Online sales now account for a fifth of non-food retail sales in Britain, and for some retailers, such as Argos, it’s nearly half.
Shoppers continue to browse and purchase with their thumbs, with mobiles now on the verge of overtaking computers as the biggest traffic-driving device. Globally both order share and visit share are up 44%
However it’s also important that retailers’ investment in online doesn’t impact the bricks and mortar. As fantastic as many websites are, they don’t have the same sensory experiences of shopping in-store – imagine Selfridges or Fenwick without their Christmas window displays!
That’s why a unified brand experience is vital. Those retailers who can seamlessly bridge in-store with online will win shoppers’ respect and loyalty, to make sure they keep coming back.