Black Friday is taking place during the UK’s second national lockdown – meaning a further reliance on eCommerce during a period that usually sees an increase of in-store purchases. However as reported in June 2020, there was a 33.9% year-on-year growth of online sales despite stores being reopened; so seasonal shopping was likely to be far more online-focused this year regardless.
This trend is nothing new but has only been accelerated in the circumstances of this year. Salesforce’s UKI Head of Retail & TTH, Michael Green, comments – “shopping habits have changed for good… the shift to eCommerce will long outlast the pandemic”.
We’ve recently evaluated how China’s retail industry used technology to recover from the pandemic which suggested a need to focus more on multichannel communications, echoing the time old saying ‘right message, right place, right time’.
So, considering the changes in shopping trends so far, we thought we’d outline a few of the trends within the UK and how businesses can best prepare and capitalise on these, for a successful digital Black Friday, and holiday season more generally.
An essential part of retailers’ strategies moving forwards must include mobile but it’s also important to understand that a customer’s journey involves many touchpoints across devices. It’s important to remember that online shopping is an omnichannel experience which can be triggered in many ways. For instance via direct messages including email or SMS, or strategic remarketing based on an initial website visit, which can reach customers as they navigate around the internet. Additionally, Mobile is a crucial device for consumers and retailers alike as mobile retailing grew by 57% in the UK during lockdown, and while computer orders also saw a 43% growth, it’s only one part of a much larger omnichannel shopping experience.
This is further echoed in Merchant Savvy’s findings which show that although there’s a growth in mobile being the start and ending point of customer journey, its largest role is still the intermediary stages – joining the dots between customer interactions with brands. So brands should keep this in mind when devising customer journey strategies and amend as appropriate.
The age of localisation
Currently, many businesses have had to shut their doors once more or move online, whether that’s to continue business as usual or to maintain visibility by communicating with their customer base. Something that was seen extensively in the first lockdown was how many people stood by small and local businesses, with Google reporting “support local businesses” searches has grown by over 2000 times, globally when compared to the previous year.
Furthermore, research from Accenture found that 56% of consumers were shopping in local stores or buying locally sourced items. While this was likely exacerbated due to the restricted travel regulations, with 79% reporting to shop locally in the long term, it’s a trend that consumers are wanting to continue.
The importance of brand
Peak season can be a frenzy of sales and offers and many businesses will want to ensure that they remain top of mind to customers during this period, as ultimately many will be looking to recover revenue lost as a result of the coronavirus crisis. But to secure a sale with any customer, a brand needs to demonstrate both the value of their product or service and give customers a reason to select their brand over that of a competitor. As Izzy Ashton, deputy editor of Bite, states – “Marketing is now less about the hard sell, and more about pulling customers into a brand’s community”.
Again, this trend of a softer sell which aims to bring customers into a brand’s community is not a new concept, but it has certainly gained momentum. So it’s important brands remember to also sell their brand in customer communications and campaigns. After all, brands which are able to do this successfully place themselves in a much better position to promote customer loyalty and secure those all-important conversions.
Consumer habits are changing and although these trends existed before and have simply been accelerated in the current situation, recent challenges do present businesses an opportunity to reevaluate their communications and innovate their strategies moving forwards. Planning for a reopening, albeit easier said than done when you’re not entirely sure when that will be, and keeping your customers engaged in the meantime relies on good communication.
If you’re thinking about including mobile messaging as part of your communication strategy moving forwards, or how to boost your seasonal sales, our team is on hand to help you achieve your goals by phone 0345 356 5758 and by email [email protected].