The Silly Season Approaches; Ever More Data Led & Digitally Delivered

Published: 27 October 2015

Last week two things brought the onset of Christmas just a little bit closer. Firstly, a colleague brought mince pies into the office (it’s still October, I know!), and secondly IMRG released their predictions for the up and coming Black Friday online retail splurge.

Their predictions for silly season ’15 have the great British public all set to eclipse the efforts of last year and spend, spend, spend! And the numbers are breath-taking; Black Friday (27/11) alone is set to break £1bn in sales - the single largest UK retail trading day on record. But it doesn’t stop there; Cyber Monday (30/11) predicted to be a shade under £950m, and Boxing Day weighs in at £856m. Dotted amongst that are Manic Monday, Christmas Day and New Years Day, each expected to yield variously between £630m and £730m in sales.

These predictions all show a substantive increase from last year. And 2014 set online retail records of its own; not least of all it was the first time Boxing Day wasn’t the pinnacle of the years trading.  A cynic might say that unremarkable predictions make for poor reading, however the insights into last years performance are quite noteworthy.

It was roundly noted that the early season mini-boom of Black Friday through to Cyber Monday, caused the late onset of Christmas shopping. Higher than anticipated demand triggered panic discounting and extending of the ‘event’ chasing fast revenues, but suffering from tighter than anticipated margins. Clearly there were some who won bigger than others. I find it hard to believe there were too many losers.

Traders don’t like leaving money on the table, or risking their customers straying in search of better service. So, fingers singed in 2014 will no doubt weave better laid plans in 2015. Customer and business intelligence will put in place the right campaigns, to attract the right customers to the right deals, across the right channel mix, with the right supply chain solutions in place to fulfil them.

In amongst all the talk of sales, let us not forget the customer! Research conducted by Experian into last years online melee identified two distinct groups:  Firstly, the suburban and rurally based and well paid working families. This was the group more likely to delve into the early deals. The post-Christmas event customer was typified by urban dwelling, twitter savvy, heavy social media video content consumers under 35 and over 55.

Such studies offer positive auspices for the retail sector, consumer confidence, and hopefully for the economy at large. As a fairly heavy twitter user, under 55 and over 35, I suspect I need to be using online product video reviews a little more to find my way into the cross hairs of the best deals!  It will be fascinating to see how it all plays out, and gets delivered!

Matt Cockbill leads the IT, Technology & Digital Leadership Practices for Berwick Partners.

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