Black Friday: news in brief

Black Friday is upon us
Black Friday is upon us

Retailers must prioritise customer care on Black Friday

As Black Friday is upon us once again, CEO and founder of customer engagement platform iAdvize Julien Hervouët has stressed how it has become the most important day of the year for retailers. However, it can also be a very stressful day, with queues out the door contributing to a difficult shopping experience.

Hervouët said: "Staying at home on Black Friday may be the smartest move given that the best deals can be found online. Not only this, customers see at first glance which items are still available and this saves them a tremendous amount of time. Meanwhile businesses - despite being forewarned about a huge influx of consumers on Black Friday - are unprepared to offer effective customer care, which results in the loss of potential sales."

"There is now a high demand for customer support when online shopping, according to our research. UK consumers want to be able to contact retailers via a variety of channels, ranging from email to live chat and phone. Many do not want to wait for a response of longer than a minute with nearly a third of shoppers abandoning an online purchase due to lack of support."

In order for businesses and e-commerce sites to make use of the immense revenue opportunities that Black Friday offers them, they need to meet the expectations of new and existing customers and sufficient customer care forms an essential part of that.

Black Friday is an in-store and online opportunity

Black Friday sales are expected to surpass last year’s record spend of £810m and could easily top £1bn. According to UK MD of business data agency fifty-five, Rob Fenton, what really sets Black Friday apart from Cyber Monday is that it offers consumers both online and in-store bargains, so retailers can appeal to as many UK shoppers as possible.

“The interesting story is high street retailers have used their intelligence to make sure that Black Friday doesn’t turn into Red Friday for their profit margins,” said Fenton.

“The winners of Black Friday will be the multi-channel retailers that invested in data to understand the attribution that online media and online store visits have on high street store sales, as they can make the right level of media, price and stock investments to profitably capitalise on this volume opportunity that kick starts Christmas trading.”

SMEs warned of heightened cyber risks over Black Friday weekend

Cyber-security firm IDT911 is warning retailers and small business owners of the perils of Black Friday weekend, the year’s busiest retail period. IDT911 has cited a number of precautionary measures retailers and small businesses can undertake to protect themselves.

Following a year of high-profile cyber security breaches, companies are facing fresh pressures to protect customer data both online and at the checkout as they prepare for both days respectively. Retail revenues are expected to reach £3.5bn over the course of the weekend, with British shoppers alone expected to spend £1bn.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday pose heightened security risks to retailers due to the increased volumes of transactions and internet traffic. During the same weekend in 2013, leading US retailer Target suffered a catastrophic attack which saw the theft of up to 70 million cardholders’ information and led to considerably dampened sales.

Small to medium-size retailers are in equal danger, with the UK government estimating that such businesses are putting a third (32%) of their revenue at risk because they are falling for some of the common misconceptions around cyber security. In 2014, 60% of small businesses experienced a data breach, with the average cost of such breaches approximately £65,000-£115,000. This can be a significant portion of revenue for independent retailers in particular.