Peak perspectives: 'speed and performance' vs. 'bells and whistles'

For retailers, getting peak right is crucial, but what is ‘getting it right’ in today’s competitive environment? Do you focus on systems, making sure that your site can cope with the influx of visitors, or take advantage of this to get creative and use it as the basis for a long term, customer centric strategy?


With Black Friday just around the corner (64 days and counting!) we decided to ask the experts. We were joined on a webinar by our resident retail brand strategy guru Elinor Noble, together with our special guest, self-called ‘systems guy’ John Beechen, Head of Managed Services at ecommerce consultancy Salmon.


They explored the where, when, who, what and how of Black Friday and beyond, debating speed and performance versus bells and whistles, and the importance of both for your business during peak season. Watch the full webinar below, or read on for our short recap.


 


Looking back at 2015: learnings and thoughts

The one thing you don’t want when the peak results are in is to have your boss asking why you made the same mistakes as last time, so looking back is key. From 2014 to 2015 there were a few shifts to take note of:

  • In-store to online: as shoppers moved online, retailers took note offering more consistency across channels than ever before.

  • Online to mobile: browsing on this channel has been on the increase, and there was evidence of buying following suit.

Key takeaways:
‘These shifts have profound implications for the future of in-store,  it's no longer the primary destination for consumption but a support to the online purchase’ - John, Salmon
‘The move to mobile is a wider trend Qubit has seen across its customer base, with some now seeing up to 90% of traffic coming from this channel’. - Elinor, Qubit
Analysing the impact of 2015 also revealed some interesting insights:
  • People come to buy. Salmon data showed the jump in conversion over the Black Friday weekend was 66%

  • Different industries see differing conversion rate boosts, and not necessarily what you’d expect. Qubit research showed that Luxury was in fact the industry that saw the highest boost to conversion rates.

  • Visitors acquired on Black Friday don’t necessarily ever come back, but some industries saw evidence of higher than average repurchase rates for these visitors.


Key takeaways:

‘Higher conversions means less browsing and buying behaviour and a greater focus on checkout - your systems need to be ready for this’ - John, Salmon


‘Retailers need to understand the true impact of peak on their business. Is it worth using Black Friday as a one off discount day to clear merchandise? Or does it present a window of opportunity to implement a loyalty strategy?’ - Elinor, Qubit

Looking forward to 2016: what is Black Friday now?

Black Friday 2016:

  • It’s not just about the store

  • It’s not just about one day

  • It’s not just a bandwagon to jump on


So what is it?
John and Elinor left us with 5 angles to consider, the where, when, who, what and how of Black Friday and beyond. Read on for points one, two and three (the where, the when and the who), or to learn more about the what and the how (including examples) watch the video above!

1) Where?
It’s too easy to say mobile first these days, but so important to consider. Here is where there can be some debate between speed and performance, versus bells and whistles. You need to make sure your site transacts, no matter what channel a visitor is coming from. If you pick one place to focus then make it the checkout, this is especially important on mobile.  Another point to consider is how to utilise online channels more creatively to bring the instore experience to visitors. Think beyond banners and call-to-actions toward segmenting your visitors and delivering tailored experiences that will make your site a worthy destination.

2) When?
Black Friday is not just a day. John discussed Black Five Day, and Elinor spoke about Black NO-Day with Amazon and some other retailers.  Every business should seriously consider the best way to engage (or not engage) with Black Friday in a way that's right for them. As for ‘‘when’ -  don’t  consider when in the year but more, when in the customer journey, when in the customer lifetime and ask what role does Black Friday play? Start to consider Black Friday as not an individual day but as a valuable moment in a wider customer centric strategy.

3) Who?

Black Friday is not just a bandwagon to jump on, and one of the main reasons for this is that every business has different (and multiple) audiences. Best practices for you may have a negative impact for someone else. The most important thing to do is, you guessed it... look at the data. Understand your audience: who drives your revenue on the day new visitors or returning customers? Examine the impact of your activities last year, did the new customers you spent money acquiring come back? Qubit data shows that up to 94% of revenue on the day can be driven by new visitors, and of new visitors acquired on Black Friday, those who buy again could be as low as 6%. If you know 'the who', then you can ensure you deliver towards them.

If you’re interested in learning more about getting set for success during peak, and have enjoyed the video, then our recent research paper is another great resource. Download it here to get our in-depth analysis of 2015, broken down by 5 key industries, and the strategies you should focus on to drive results.