It's a date

June 5, 2019 Claranet Limited

Shopping festivals such as Singles’ Day, Black Friday, and Amazon Prime Day are a relatively new phenomenon, but they are grabbing the headlines and driving impressive revenue gains for retailers. And the latest addition to the calendar was Love My Shop Day last Saturday, with the organisers inviting British consumers to celebrate the wealth of shopping opportunities they have on their doorstep.  

According to their website, “Love My Shop Day” is not just about price. It’s a day to reconnect with your local shops, to discover the everyday amazing deals and products available ‘just down the road’. And let’s be honest, the ability to speak face to face with a real person!” 

"There is all to play for if stores have the tech infrastructure to offer a joined-up experience…"

Special days boost sales
Physical retail is in a good strategic position to capitalise on this trend for manufactured ‘special shopping days’, as consumers embrace the concept, and as the boundaries between online and offline marketing engagement continue to blur. Driven by social media, there is all to play for if stores have the tech infrastructure to offer a joined-up experience to the customers who participate. 

Singles’ Day sets record sales
Chinese omnichannel giant Alibaba set new sales records on Sunday 11th November 2018 for its biggest shopping day, the annual Singles’ Day. It hit a record $1bn in sales in 85 seconds, and then just under $10bn in the first hour of the 24-hour spending spree. In total, customers spent an incredible $30.8bn, up 27% on 2017. 

China’s Singles’ Day is perhaps unique. But there is a clear trend for retail disruptors everywhere to host one-day shopping events to generate sales and a branding buzz that makes very strong commercial sense. Singles’ Day is now starting to spread into the western world, and while it may not get as much traction yet as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, in a few years’ time US and European retailers could well see this becoming a fixture in their marketing calendars as well. 

Black Friday going global
We’ve already seen the phenomenal success of Black Friday as a global retail event. Despite significant growth of online Black Friday activity, and talk of consumer cynicism creeping in, it’s still the biggest store traffic day in the US.  

The event continues to grow in popularity in much of South America, Europe, and Australia, where discounts in the run up to Christmas entice people into spending mode, well before the traditional festive rush. 

Amazon on a roll with Prime Day
Going it alone – but in a big way – is Amazon with its Amazon Prime Day in July. Globally it was the biggest day of sales in Amazon’s history in 2018, and Amazon Prime Day 2019 is expected to be even bigger. Little wonder the web giant’s very own discounted shopping festival is something other large retail players are planning to emulate. 

All the signifiers suggest these discounting and special shopping events will remain part of the fabric of retail life around the world for decades to come. So, what are the opportunities for physical retail to jump on this conversion-driving band wagon?  

Feeling the love for shopping festivals
There’s no denying that shopping festivals are edging into the consumer psyche. Being strongly price-led, consumers consider them something worth participating in, particularly when household budgets are under pressure.  

Personalised marketing can also help the event to feel special and tailored to individual needs. Popular events like this can give retailers with a physical presence a solid hook for a colourful, cross-channel campaign - just when consumers are in the mood for hunting out a bargain. 

"All retailers are looking to transform the world of brick-and-mortar retailing with outstanding events, tech-enabled services, and joined-up experiences." 

Moments in the spotlight
It’s likely that shopping festivals of the future will be enhanced with pop-up stores and tech innovations. So, for example, shoppers can enjoy an immersive VR experience to try out ski wear, or smart mirror technology in a fashion store that instantly alerts signed-up customers to relevant offers nearby.  

It’s fascinating that Amazon's Black Friday pop-up returned to London for a second year in 2018, with brands including Samsung, Lego, and Canon participating, and on-site events including prizes, workshops, VIP experiences, and product sampling. 

Of course, all this requires the right network connectivity and, online, the ability to scale up and down in the cloud to get the right balance to meet fluctuating demand at the most affordable price. Call centre capacity is also part of the mix to offer the best customer experience. In other words, getting the fundamental infrastructure right is the technological bedrock for flash sales. 

Fear of Missing Out
A final thought: the beauty of the store environment is that human interaction is on tap, meaning shopping festivals can become more engaging, fun and memorable. Store associates can assist VIP customers with product knowledge, inspiration, advice and suggestions for add-on items. With ‘Insta moments’ created, FOMO (fear of missing out) will drive interest, and potentially in-store traffic and sales. 

These are exciting times and all retailers are looking to transform the world of brick-and-mortar retailing with outstanding events, tech-enabled services, and joined-up experiences.  

Looking to create your next big wow? Why shouldn’t shopping festivals be part of your master plan? 

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