The shops on Black Friday and Cyber Monday were clearly quieter than last year, with none of the in-store chaos that we have seen across the news in previous years. Whilst this weekend was significantly more subdued, does this mean that we have seen the last of this long weekend in the retail calendar? The answer is a resounding no.
Instead of braving the streets at the crack of dawn and fighting over discount electricals, shoppers have gone online - favouring clicks over bricks. But, why has it changed? Aside from the convenience of online shopping from the comfort of their own home, many consumer groups have indicated that Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are often a smokescreen, with Which? finding that "more than half of last year's Black Friday deals were cheaper or the same price at other times of year". To today's savvy shopper, this has not gone unnoticed, and online price comparison websites allow for an easier hunt for the best bargains, alongside providing consumers with the chance to see if this discounted price has previously been available.
With consumers embracing online shopping like never before, retailers must find ways to maintain the relevance of their bricks-and-mortar stores as part of their omni-channel sales strategy. A retail business knows it must provide an integrated, seamless shopping experience across all of their platforms. But let's remember, omni-channel isn't just about selling across selling across these multiple platforms, sometimes more importantly it's about giving your customers control to do what they want, when they want, no matter where they are.
A huge omni-channel winner has been the continued rise of Click & Collect, which is not a new phenomenon but one that is rapidly becoming standard for many retailers. In 2016, the cost of failed deliveries reached an eye-watering £780 million according to the Valuing Home Delivery report. However, the increasing uptake of strategic partnerships between pureplay retailers and traditional bricks-and-mortar stores means that consumers no longer have to get their items delivered to work or wait in the long queue at the sorting office, but can collect from a number of convenient locations in their own time.
Tim Robinson, Doddle CEO said: "UK retailers are becoming far more collaborative and open to partnerships that create better experiences for customers, even if it means sharing those customers." This year, Doddle, an innovative Click & Collect company, has grown its network to 370 locations, with the majority of these locations opening as concessions within supermarkets, department stores and charity shops. In a statement to Post & Parcel, Doddle explained that "between 25% and 40% of customers visiting Doddle concessions are new customers to the host retailer - so the Click & Collect connection is actually driving more football to bricks-and-mortar stores", and that, in some locations, "Doddle has found as many as 80% of customers collecting or returning go on to make additional purchases in-store."
This further demonstrates the importance for retailers to continue their investment in making their bricks-and-mortar relevant and part of their overall strategy. Whether it's there to be a showroom, collection point, distribution centre or flagship, physical stores are here to stay as an important channel for acquiring new customers - but they have to keep your customer at heart!
If you would like to understand more about some of the challenges retailers are facing and overcoming through technology in areas such as big data and cloud computing in more detail, then register for our webinar featuring Oracle at 11am on the 7th December.
Written by Tim Baskett, Retail Account Manager for Xynomix