One trend that I wasn’t aware of is just how big Black Friday has become outside the United States.
Holiday deal days are becoming more important. Reports showing Black Friday is now the most popular deal day in France, Germany, Italy and the UK.
When people think of Black Friday, they normally think of hordes of people in stores, some lining up in the wee hours of the morning to make sure they get the doorbuster deals. That’s not going to happen this year; that’s not what consumers want, and it’s not what retailers want. How should retailers think about Black Friday? How can they best take advantage of that day?
Certainly is becoming a big deal globally. In the situation that most retailers are in, where they are now having to move so much of their sales through the online channel, they’re worried about the capacity to deliver products to homes—whether the third parties are going to be able to get them there and whether their own warehouses can keep up with the online demand. So one of the interesting things we’ve seen about Black Friday is retailers now starting to spread out these blockbuster events, so they’re able to “level load” their supply chains and ship products in a way that doesn’t create a massive spike that they can’t fulfill.
We will also see consumers participating in these events more digitally than ever. Research also show before a lot of the recent shutdowns in Europe, that there was already a lessening of folks wanting to go in stores—people wanted to go online.
I think we’ll see even more of that. Consumers are wanting to participate in these events in a modified way: either completely online or buy online and pick up in store or pick up outside the store. We’ll see a lot more physical distancing and a different way of delivering so that retailers can not only meet the demand safely but also manage delivery, inventory, and their profitability.
The COVID-19 situation has really prompted a big increase in the focus on the online experience for shopping and the pick-up-in-store experience. And retailers have scrambled to create an environment that provides an OK—or, in some cases, a great—shopping experience. So they’re now starting to think about how do we actually make this profitable? How do we take costs out of delivery or out of buy online, pick up in store, so that we can make money like we used to when we were running stores in a traditional environment? We’ve seen a bunch of different reactions from retailers. In many ways, this crisis has forced some retailers that traditionally operated in one way for a very long period of time to become much more agile. We see a lot more aggressive moves than we’ve seen in the past.