By Ellie-Rose Davies, Content Executive, IMRG

Black Friday can be great for brand awareness, generating new customers, and prompting conversion. But when the busy period closes, retailers are met with many challenges.

Retailers must juggle numerous orders, plenty of returns, and lots of customer enquiries all the while continuing to provide seamless experiences that will build customer trust and satisfaction.

This blog uncovers the common post-black Friday challenges and provides top tips to help you remain resilient and push through them, ultimately enabling you to maintain or establish your competitive edge.

Challenge 1: Offering smooth customer journeys

Now that Black Friday covers the entire month of November and Christmas deals are around the corner, retailers should try to ensure that their customers experience the same journey with them as though it were a normal trading period. In fact, retailers should be trying to offer superior experiences that go beyond their ‘norm’ during and post-Black Friday to prompt loyalty and new customer conversion.

Amal Ahmed, Director of Financial Services and EMEA Marketing at Signifyd, says ‘Buyers in search of a good deal are willing to buy before Black Friday to land one or wait until well into December to find a price that represents a good value in their minds. Understanding this is key for both retailers – who are reaching a larger number of consumers over a longer period – and consumers, who are stretching budgets for longer through the year.’

‘Despite concerns about the impact of persistent inflation, consumers are still—and will continue—to actively look for the best deals and are willing to move away from brands they were previously loyal to,’ says Amal. ‘Facilitating smooth (and secure) customer journeys is therefore more important than ever for retailers looking to cash in throughout the ‘Golden Quarter.’

Angus Knights, Head of Product Success at parcelLab echoes this, saying ‘To stand out post-Black Friday, it’s crucial to offer an optimal customer experience at every online touchpoint – from browsing, ordering, and delivery to customer service interactions.’

‘Retailers must focus on the entire customer journey, not just the sale,’ says Angus. ‘This approach enhances the quality of the online shopping experience, ensures customer loyalty, and distinguishes retailers from their competition.’

Angus gives the example of ‘Proactive shipping communication which, especially during high-volume periods like Black Friday, can significantly reduce customer service queries and enhance satisfaction.’ He also explains the value of ‘Effective post-purchase engagement, such as timely updates and personalised offers,’ which he says, ‘can further solidify customer relationships and drive repeat business.’

Challenge 2: Creating loyalty from new customers

Throughout the peak period, many retailers put their focus on expanding their customer base. Nicole Morton, Cross-Border Solutions Manager at Avalara explores this is more detail. She says, ‘The peak sales season can help retailers evaluate new markets. A successful peak season means you’ve likely had an influx of new customers. By referencing the location data of these customers, you can find out if there are regions to ramp up your marketing activity.’

In ramping up your marketing activity in the locations that most engaged with your brand throughout Black Friday, you welcome the opportunity to grow loyalty and repeat purchases from these customers, as well as welcoming a new wave of customers from these locations.

Nicole continues, ‘After peak season, see where your post-purchase expertise needs improvement: which shipping services struggled to keep up with demand, which customer service channels* were most popular, and how well your business complied with tax and customs regulations.’

*While it may largely vary between retailers, it is worth noting that out of 1000 UK respondents in recent IMRG research, the top three places that customers want to engage with online customer services are email (52%), phone (42.9%), and a human-run chat (47.1%). This was on a ‘select all that apply’ basis. Interestingly, the least favourable was bot chats, at 16.1%.

Andrew Harkness, Head of Marketing at Huboo provides his thoughts on how to keep new customers alert throughout the rest of the peak season. He exclaims, ‘Black Friday brings substantial opportunities but also logistics and fulfilment challenges that sometimes prevent retailers from capitalising on the increased demand they’re seeing.’

‘For example, the post-sale customer experience is every bit as crucial as the sale itself. Retailers that focus solely on conversion without taking steps to shore up this experience risk letting hard-won Black Friday customers slip through their fingers,’ says Andrew.

He urges retailers to focus on ‘communicating timely, personalising delivery updates, keeping customers informed and engaged, as well as capturing data on post-sale customer behaviours.’ This way, Andrew says, ‘Retailers can develop incisive marketing efforts to keep them engaged over the next stage of the peak season.’

Challenge 3: Optimising your post-sale communication

To improve brand reputation during the busy period, retailers can optimise their post-sale communication, ensuring that they are actively speaking to their customers not just until they purchase, but long after, to establish strong connections and to build a community of customers that keep coming back.

However, knowing what type of communication to provide amidst the noise of other retailers who are also trying to establish a connection with your new, existing, or prospective customers, can be difficult.

Gavin Murphy, CMO at Scurri provides his recommendations, stating that ‘As the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite, and the price of customer acquisition and conversion also remains high, it is time for retailers and brands to embed post-purchase experience as a foundational element in the customer journey.’

He continues, ‘Capitalising on the post-purchase period allows retailers to boost brand loyalty through high-engagement communications where they can upsell products and offers, promote discounts or gifts, and encourage reviews to grow direct customer relationships and encourage them to return and purchase again both during Peak and beyond.’

Now, divert your eyes to the chart which reveals the type of information that interests customers the most. Lots of these can be used pre- and post-purchase but should be used at the right time. For example, it may be a bad idea to send customers a notification that the product they’ve just bought is included in a sitewide sale, after the fact that they have just paid full price. Communication timing is almost equally as important as the content itself.

Blog chart

Heath Barlow, VP EMEA at Emarsys explores the value of communication further, voicing that ‘Being unable to convert Black Friday customers is a common challenge that retailers face post-Black Friday.’

‘According to research by SAP Emarsys, 35% of shoppers during the Black Friday season buy from an online store they have never used before. While this is a significant number, as many as 37% of these customers have no plans to stay loyal to these brands after the sales end.’

Heath continues, ‘A proven way to address this issue and to re-engage new customers is by targeting them with personalised messaging and unique offers at the right touchpoints. An omnichannel platform can help collate and centralise customer data in one place, helping retailers understand the best way to connect with each individual, and convert Black Friday sales into customers that are truly loyal.’

Clever communication can also tackle the returns problem that retailers face post-Black Friday. Returns can put a heavy strain on retailers who are trying to protect their margins and experience growth this peak period. Sean Sherwin-Smith, Product Director, Post-Purchase at nShift provides his thoughts on how retailers can tackle the problem:

‘We’re seeing a real trend this year of retailers adopting strategies to convert returns into exchanges. By adopting a digital returns process with a consumer-friendly interface, retailers are making it easier to offer people exchange options.’

Sean says, ‘It means retailers don’t lose their revenue on returned items and encourages footfall back into shops, increasing personal touch points between brands and consumers and unlocking opportunities to upsell. This all adds up to create an ‘experience-first’ approach, which is critical to building loyalty and standing out from the wider discount-driven retail environment.’

May the post-Black Friday odds be ever in your favour!

Want to read more? Here are some other IMRG blogs that cover a range of ecommerce topics:

What’s Really Going On With Black Friday Discounting This Year? – IMRG

Exploring The Value Of Gift With Purchase – IMRG

Mid-November Insights: Black Friday Trends Unveiled, Agility Unleashed – IMRG

Is Your Black Friday Messaging Missing the Mark? – IMRG

Five tips for successful Black Friday promotions in 2023 – IMRG

Published 27/11/2023

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