Black Friday 2021: What can we expect?

Retail Tech Thursday is our weekly check-in here at Spreckley, where we share the most interesting retail and retail technology news, innovations, and trends.

This week, merchants across the globe are preparing for the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, which will take place from 26 – 29 November 2021.

In a world reshaped by the pandemic, consumer expectations are at an all-time high and personalisation is #onlineretail101. Merchants looking to maximise profits this Black Friday need to invest in their eCommerce infrastructure to create a seamless online experience. With UK consumers starting their Christmas shopping earlier than ever before, improving the flow of the customer journey means the difference between success and failure for retailers looking to outperform competitors.

According to our client Oxylabs, the clothing category will be offering the biggest deals this Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. Preparing their website, refining their marketing strategy, and creating a strong customer experience should therefore be at the top of fashion retailers’ agendas in the run up to this year’s event.

UK shoppers set to spend more online than the rest of Europe

According to research from Five9, consumers in the UK are the least likely to visit physical stores and malls this Black Friday – the same goes for the rest of the holiday season. The report also found the long-lasting impact of Covid-19 on UK consumer behaviour was more than anywhere else in Europe. Since the outbreak, close to half (46%) of UK shoppers are doing more than 75% of their shopping online, compared to the global average of 21%.

Instead, shoppers are turning to online merchants to satisfy their needs and purchase gifts for family members, friends, and loved ones. This includes online marketplaces, which is a great option for smaller retailers looking to get involved. UK merchants looking to drive sales this Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend must therefore go digital, with increased payment options, mCommerce, and personalisation all high on the agenda.

Certainty beats discounts this Black Friday

Concern about the availability of items is another key aspect for retailers to consider this year. Global supply chain disruption continues to impact many UK retailers and those looking to weather the storm must recognise that certainty will undoubtedly beat discounts for consumers in 2021. James Hyde, founder of James and James Fulfilment, offers his top tips for retailers looking to capitalise on this year’s Black Friday in Elite Business:

“Planning ahead is vital for any retailer hoping to maximise peak trading season and, critically, deliver on promises. Now more than ever, it is essential that retailers know what they have, and what they can deliver, when. Vague promises will not meet customer expectations. What’s in stock today? Can it be promoted? How quickly can the business respond to customer demand? 

“With delays to inbound stock likely to persist, especially from the Far East, retailers should also view the 2021 peak trading season as an opportunity to tackle the slow-moving lines that are clogging up expensive warehouse space. Not only will this address the ongoing issue of ageing stock, but it also enables retailers to promote stock with confidence, with items already in the warehouse providing the certainty of delivery by a set date.”

Fashion and clothing will offer the biggest deals

Fashion is set to be the leading category this Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, according to web-scraping data from Oxylabs. In fact, infrastructure traffic rates show that fashion and clothing retailers have been three times more active during the beginning of November 2021, when compared to the five days of Black Friday in 2020.

Gediminas Rickevičius, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Oxylabs, states in Fashion Network: “Consumers can expect the most discounts in these product categories, as this is where sellers are putting the most effort into following their competition. Sellers analyse the whole competitive landscape for a particular product and formulate their offer accordingly.”

It is therefore clear this year that monitoring competition and getting every aspect of the online experience right is imperative for fashion retailers looking to drive sales.

You can check out Which.co.uk for reliable reviews and guides on this year’s best Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend bargains.