07 Nov 2023
Brace yourself! The countdown is on to Black Friday when sales are expected to rocket as consumers look to grab a bargain or three before Christmas.
Black Friday is an American import and is the colloquial term for the Friday after Thanksgiving. It traditionally marks the start of the Christmas shopping season in the US when shops offer items at highly discounted prices.
The phenomenon has travelled across The Pond to our shores. Gone are the days of Boxing Day sales when shoppers would queue up round the block in all weathers to buy a discounted jumper.
Now it's all about online purchases of electrical goods, gadgets and Christmas presents and businesses in the UK are bracing themselves for the next shopping feeding frenzy.
This year, Black Friday falls on November 24 although pre-Black Friday sales and even pre-pre-Black Friday sales have already been held. Patience is no longer a virtue.
Preparation for this online shopping mania has been months in the making. As a marketing agency, we have been preparing websites and social media to showcase our clients' products. Then it is down to them to handle to fall out.
This presents a number of challenges. For a start, not all companies have the warehousing capacity of Amazon. Smaller retailers may have a limited number of each item so if every customer decides to order one item in three sizes or three items in one size (knowing they will send two back) that can have a significant impact on stock.
Then there is the gung-ho shopper who gets carried away and buys all manner of items on the off chance knowing they can return what they don't want.
But returns policy usually offers the consumer 14 days' grace which means many items won't be returned until well into December when stock is in high demand. How frustrating it is for the smaller trader not to have a product in stock even though you know it is on its way back.
And while online sales undoubtedly enjoy the virtues of choice and convenience, they cannot offer customer service. You cannot truly know the feel or fit of an item unless you try it on, have a look in a mirror and make your decision. Equally sending back electrical goods such as a TV can open a Pandora's Box of problems.
So, of course, make the most of the offers, browse the websites and social posts to grab that bargain. After all, it's been a tough year for everyone and money is tight.
But just take a breath, think about what you may want to return and remember nothing can replace the human touch.