In a climate of rising inflation and the uncertainty surrounding the energy crisis, the forecast for the longest online shopping period of the year is looking very positive. The hunt for the best offers, the global market, and the race to buy early Christmas gifts are just some of the factors that make the Black Friday period the most challenging test for the main players in this whole world of e-commerce.
So, are you ready?
———— Positive figures despite the problems
Black Friday is closely linked to the world of e-commerce and e-logistics, which have experienced rapid growth over the years. Online sales in the United States rose by 9% in 2021, reaching a total of 257 billion dollars. This is significant, as the US is the most important country when it comes to taking the pulse of the e-commerce sector. On the one hand, they are the market with the highest turnover, and on the other they are in the part of the world that sets the main trends in consumer spending. Online sales in 2021 were also encouraging in other countries: for example, in the UK, where the Black Friday period alone generated over £9.2 billion in revenue.
———— Increases in stock and longer periods of advertising
The figures for 2021 are positive, although recorded in a very different year, characterised by the resurgence of the pandemic and problems with obtaining certain raw materials. We are now facing a situation with many complex issues: from the long shadow of the pandemic, to growing difficulties in sourcing an increasing number of raw materials, and to the energy crisis and rising inflation. The market should be better prepared at the end of 2022, and the big brands have already begun to stock up on products with a view to peak sales at the end of autumn.
———— Consumers: ready to buy sooner, more and better
The fact that sector operators are already prepared will also help respond to changes in purchasing habits. Over the last two years, consumers have been doing their seasonal online shopping further ahead, when compared to the pre-Covid period. This year, Black Friday is on November 25, and Cyber Monday on November 28, but the market is actually starting to feel frenetic right at the start of November. We’re already seeing lots of advertising campaigns, making massive use of social media to prepare the ground for those crucial “click days”.
———— Also, thanks in part to Black Friday, sustainability is becoming a big issue
The Black Friday period, and the autumn shopping season as a whole, are seeing important changes in buying habits, not just at the time of sales. According to a survey published by Sprout Social, 72% of consumers prefer brands with a sound reputation for sustainability. This involves sustainability in its broadest sense, and so includes not only respect for the environment, which is a primary concern, but also an interest in various practices and values aimed at improving people’s lives.
———— Packaging is an ideal way to communicate the sustainable values of a brand
Indeed, the market is increasingly favouring companies that impose a system of checks on parties operating upstream in the supply chain, for example by monitoring their production processes to ensure they meet certain ethical criteria. All this opens up further opportunities for operators in the supply chain. For example, a business can add a QR code to its packaging that links to its website, YouTube profile or social media pages, and which shows the ethical and ecological initiatives carried out by the brand, giving it added value.
———— Brands and Consumers, all present! Logistics?
The brands are getting ready. The consumers are getting ready. But what about the logistics?
The logistics sector and online retailers face very many challenges, but there are also opportunities for profit and growth. Most of the investments and improvements by 3PL and e-commerce operators take place right at the start of the year, just to ensure they’re ready to face the great test of Black Friday. The route to success involves the efficient organisation of warehouse stock and the “smart” management of peaks in workload, requiring high levels of automation. This is particularly important for the sorting and production centres, in order to cope with the growing shortage of personnel that is affecting the logistics sector – among others.
———— With great challenges come great responsibilities
At the same time, Black Friday is the ideal time for retailers to exploit sales strategies based on greater sustainability. Solutions such as paper wrapping and the use of other sustainable materials for packaging can therefore be a winning card for brands working in the world of e-commerce and e-logistics.
We’re ready. Are you?