Once relegated to a US-only phenomenon, Black Friday has seen exponential growth in Australia in the last decade to where it is now considered by many to be the single biggest date on the Australian retail calendar. This year, as consumers grapple with high costs of living and the ramifications of an immense and ongoing spike in inflation rates since mid-2021, retailers are being warned to start their preparations for the sales event even earlier than normal.
Beginning as a colloquial term designated to the Friday after the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, Black Friday has been considered to coincide with the busiest shopping day in the US since at least 2005 as retailers adopted the occasion to mark headline sales events.
Locally, Black Friday failed to gain traction in Australia for a great length of time, only finally seeing modest adoption approximately a decade ago. Since then, the event has continued to grow year after year, fast becoming the retail industry’s most important and anticipated day in each calendar year.
“We’ve seen the event really explode in the last five or six years locally,” says Simon Le Grand, Director of Marketing for POS and e-commerce platform providers Lightspeed, “Traditionally it was a sales phenomenon with less traction outside the US and specifically, big box retailers. Today, it’s arguably the biggest period on the Australian retail calendar, surpassing Boxing Day sales.”
Le Grand, like many industry insiders, attributes the rapid growth of the sales event largely to its timing in the lead up to the Christmas period as consumers look for opportunities to save on gifts for family and friends.
“Many Aussie shoppers now treat it as an ideal time to kick-start their Christmas shopping early and grab a discount,” Le Grand tells Power Retail, “Lightspeed works with thousands of retail businesses across Australia and anecdotally, many of them tell us Black Friday is the most important period for them, as it signals the start of peak retail season.”
This year, as economic conditions continue to worsen and put considerable pressure on consumers and retailers alike, it is anticipated that sales events like that of Black Friday will be even more important to the retail industry than in previous years. As a result, retailers hoping to make the most of the opportunities to come from this event are being encouraged to prepare early, recognising the ways in which consumers’ spending behaviours have changed as a result of the present climate.
“Black Friday is synonymous with eye-watering discounts, but success doesn’t require a race to the bottom to offer the biggest discounts. Instead, preparation and doing the basics well are essential,” Le Grand offers, “Black Friday is a short-term sales bonanza, but retailers should certainly use the period between now and then to communicate with their customers; sharing updates about their products, offers and promotions well in advance. Email, social media and their website or eCommerce store, as well as promotions in-store or on decals on shop windows, are great ways to get the word out.”
Getting a jump on sales season now is also especially advisable given that the month of November will offer retailers two opportunities to boost their chances of reaching cost conscious consumers with high profile sales events, with the Click Frenzy Main Event set to kick off the month in the week beginning November 7 before the month closes with the Black Friday event beginning November 25. Strategising ahead of time for these opportunities, Le Grand suggests, will be key to seeing the greatest amount of success from them.
“Today consumers are ‘omnichannel’. That means they’re active online and in-store. They want to discover brands and products online and also enjoy those personal and meaningful in-store experiences. Retailers who can tie their online and in-store presences together will be able to maximise the opportunities Black Friday holds,” says Le Grand, “We all love an offer, too, so retailers should consider how to upsell, whether that’s through buy two get one free, discounts when someone signs up for a mailing list or having smaller items conveniently located next to the checkout.”
“As well as incentives, consumers want speed, convenience and flexibility, particularly when it comes to payments. The point of sale is the final step, and often the most important. Retailers should ensure they’re set up to accept multiple forms of payment from debit and credit cards, to digital payments, loyalty cards or alternative methods like ‘Buy Now Pay Later’. Integrated payments platforms like Lightspeed allow retailers to accept multiple forms of payment, access inventory in real-time, manage their in-store and online operations, benefit from detailed analytics and spend more time focusing on providing beautiful products and experiences this Black Friday.”
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