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The Festive Retail Boom is coming: Are you ready?

Published 5 months ago by Lauren Oakley

The most wonderful time of the year is fast approaching…no not Christmas, we'll get on to that later. We're talking about the infamous Black Friday: the traditionally American shopping weekend which has captured the hearts (and wallets!) of the UK. Last year alone our total Black Friday spend was a staggering £6.45 billion!

We’ve seen Black Friday drastically alter the way that we shop in the run up to Christmas. There’s been a decline in sales during December and January, with shoppers preferring to splurge out over Black Friday and Cyber Monday ahead of Christmas.

You may think your neighbours are eager for getting their Christmas decorations out on the front garden so early in the year, but if you work in retail IT, you’ll know that Christmas is a year-round event. In fact, if you’ve got to September without planning for the festive period, you may have left it too late.

So, why should we be on our toes in the run up to the festive retail boom? The sudden surge in shoppers online and in store means that your chance of things going awry also jumps up a fair bit too. Here are some things to be mindful of before diving headfirst into Christmas:

Tune into the Omnichannel

 It is imperative that retailers are accessible online and offline. Customers have evolved into omni-shoppers and will generally access their deals online, in store and using apps. Although it’s great news that your channels are working, it leaves you guessing over which one to focus your efforts on. These days the consumer will do one of three things:

  • Research a product online on your eCommerce site or mobile app and then visit the physical store to purchase
  • The complete opposite, where they will browse products in store, and later visit the site or app to research and make a purchase
  • Be heavily influenced by social media, mainly Instagram, where they see a product they like and click through the to the eCommerce site where they will make a purchase.

All of these journeys MUST be straight forward and easy or the consumer will disengage and shop elsewhere.

Stay safe

With such a vast amount of people plumbing in their details online in pursuit of a bargain, Black Friday is a scammer’s delight. It’s a prime time for hackers to access thousands of consumer's details. Retailers will be investing heavily in making sure their sites and apps are secure to protect both the consumer and brand reputation.

Breaches are happening at every turn at the moment, equipping yourself with a team of cyber experts is a great way of making sure your site is airtight ahead of shopping season.

Don’t forget mobile

Mobile shopping has steadily been on the rise over the past few years. With over half of all online purchases in 2016 made on a mobile device, and the younger generation becoming a bigger part of the spending demographic – can your business afford to ignore mobile optimisation?

Black Friday especially will see an even bigger increase in eCommerce and mobile app purchases purely out of convenience to the consumer and, for retailers to secure profit, their payments gateway must be seamless.

We’re already seeing an increase in companies hiring Web Developers, Payment Integration Specialists and even IT and POS Helpdesk staff to support those Christmas Eve mad rushes. So, with the threat of cyberattacks, the increased need for mobile optimisation and tweaks to your buying channels – it might be a good time to ask whether you’ve got enough hands on deck to help you prepare.

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