Black Friday, Cyber Monday what they are and why they are important

Well it’s that time of year again.  The time which separates the men from the boys in terms of the online sellers.  The boom period that spans the couple of weeks that include the last week of November and the first week of December.  These two weeks will be busy for the whole of online but there are two key days included here which are Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  You may have heard me talk briefly about this in the E-commerce in Plain English Podcast “Preparing for Christmas” You can listen to that here.  If you have not come across these terms before or have perhaps heard them but are not sure what they are, then pull up a chair, gather round and let me tell you what you need to know and what you can do to maximise your sales. 

amazon black friday dealsBlack Friday

Black Friday definition:- Black Friday symbolises the start of the Christmas shopping period and is held the Friday following Thanksgiving (Which will be the fourth Friday in November)

Why is it called Black Friday? – There are a number of theories about where the name “Black Friday” came from. To some it was the start of a profitable period for US retailers, who moved into the black after running at a loss for the previous nine months. Others believe it comes from a description by the police, when rampant bargain-hunters would cause havoc on the streets and in retail stores.

Black Friday is largely an Americanism and doesn’t quite carry the same weight over here in the UK that it does in the USA.  However don’t be fooled by this.  It will have an impact on sales here in the UK.  Businesses over in America famously have massive price reductions in order to kick off the Christmas season, and this is obviously recreated online.

If you haven’t seen the mayhem that occurs on Black Friday in stores across the USA, then here is a small compilation video to show you what it can be like.

The beauty of online means that you won’t have to deal with riots inside your store but what is important to remember is that this is the start of the period where buyers are actively looking to buy, and you need to make sure you are ready to fulfill the demand.

Amazon are understandably keen advocates of Black Friday and since 2010 they have run annual Black Friday ‘lightning sales’ on their UK site to tie in with Black Friday in America.  This year their Black Friday sales week runs from the 19th November (Today) to the 25th November.  You can find out more information here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Friday-Deals

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday definition: – The busiest day of the year for online sales.

Cyber Monday is another confusing one for a lot of people and once again it depends on which side of the Atlantic Ocean you are on which tells you which date it will be on.  In the USA Cyber Monday is held on the first Monday following Black Friday.  In the UK however Cyber Monday is the first Monday in December.  So this year 2012 Cyber Monday is going to fall on the 3rd December.

The stats for Cyber Monday 2011 were staggering and I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about these figures and neither of us could quite get our head around the numbers.  Impressive to say we were in a recession. but that’s a whole other story ;).

In 2011 it was calculated that on average the UK spent £19 million an hour solely online.  This exceeded £456 million in just online sales in 24 hours.  Now these are some big numbers which are hard for anyone to properly comprehend the scale of.  Luckily Amazon released some of their stats for last years Cyber Monday, which happened to fall on the 5th December.  Amazon.co.uk received orders for more than 3 million items, a rate of around 35 items ordered per second over the 24 hour period.  Which on average, at its peak, a delivery truck was leaving an Amazon UK packaging warehouse once every 2 minutes and 45 seconds.  Can you even comprehend the logistics required to pull that off?   I know I can’t.

So as an online retailer what do you need to do?

I am going to rely on the UK military adage of the 7P’s to some up my thoughts on this one.  Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.  Time is running out, as you are reading this Amazon are selling thousands of products on their lightning deals and by doing this they are starting the upward trend of online shopping peaking on the 3rd of December.

So you need to make sure the following:

  1. You have your biggest sellers and main sellers in plenty of stock to avoid running out of your fastest sellers prematurely.
  2. Logistically make sure you are prepared to handle as many orders as possible.  As much as high sales can be a blessing for an online business, it can turn on you in the blink of an eye.  If you can’t fulfill the orders, or control your stock then the influx of negative feedback can have a huge detrimental affect on your business
  3. Bear in mind that there are not just two days for you to focus on.  Yes Black Friday weekend will be busy and Cyber Monday is predicted to be the busiest online shopping day of 2012 but from now until easily the 10th December.  Web traffic will be up and you need to be able to fulfill the demand for this whole period.

This is perhaps the most important few weeks for any retail/e-commerce business and getting it right or wrong can be the difference between failing and flying into 2013.  Hopefully now I have covered a few of the questions about Black Friday and Cyber Monday and now your business will be better able to make the most of this period

As always I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Or if you have any questions or comments then as always just drop a comment below.

Here’s to a record-breaking Christmas for you all

Dave

2 replies
  1. Mark Bolitho
    Mark Bolitho says:

    Hi Dave

    Nice post.

    You’re right, very much a US thing, we don’t experience anywhere near the madness they do on Black Friday.
    I read there is more stay at home shopping expected this year, so US retailers are tweaking their cross-channel strategies to allow people to pick up in store at convenient times so as to avoid the crushes.

    Did all mine at the weekend, so I’m in Smug Mode : )

    Spk soon,
    Mark.

    Reply
    • DaveF
      DaveF says:

      Hey Mark

      Thanks for the comment, it will be very interesting to see what happens of it over here. I know Manchester high street is absolutely rammed with shoppers most evenings now and especially weekends. Last year Amazon and eBay took care of about 90% of my Xmas shopping and my goal is to try and increase that this year ha ha. I see those Black Friday videos in America and see people queuing up over here in shops. I find ordering from my office much more civilised 😉

      Speak soon

      Dave

      Reply

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