Cyber 5 Favors the Bold: Who Gained UK Shoppers’ Trust this Black Friday?

With political uncertainty hanging over the holiday shopping period and consumer confidence at its joint-lowest in six years, it’s not an ideal backdrop for a successful Black Friday event. 

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With political uncertainty hanging over the holiday shopping period and consumer confidence at its joint-lowest in six years, it’s not an ideal backdrop for a successful Black Friday event.  Despite this, a study for VoucherCodes by the Centre for Retail Research predicts that spending on Black Friday in the UK will increase by 3.4% to £2.53 billion this year.  In these uncertain times, what are UK retailers doing to convert Black Friday browsing to Black Friday sales?

Price Promises as well as an earlier start on discounting (which allows shoppers more time to evaluate deals) are just some of the moves retailers are making to reassure UK deal-seekers and increase conversion.

Did Retailers Gain Momentum with Early Black Friday Deals?

Retailers such as Amazon, Currys and John Lewis pressed the Black Friday start button on Friday November 22 - one week before the official day - giving shoppers more time to grab a deal and increasing the retailers’ chances of a successful Cyber 5 event.

To maintain momentum and, with the aim of boosting still more sales on the day, Argos and Currys promised that more lines would be added on Black Friday. We can see that is largely the case across the Headphones & Earphones, Laptops and Television categories.

It is also worth noting the low number of Television promotions that Argos is running at the time of writing. It is promoting just 9% of its range compared to 83% on Currys. On its Black Friday Television deals page, Argos lists 23 items, however, some of these have not seen price cuts in the last two weeks. Some, like the Samsung TV below, did have a price cut on November 22 but Argos is not showing the saving. Argos is possibly losing out on sales as shoppers are more likely to buy when they see what they will save.

Argos website (9am) - 29 November 2019

Argos website (9am) - 29 November 2019

Amazon Primed for Streaming Battle

While sales are of great importance, Amazon also aims to drive up the number of Prime Members on Black Friday at a time when traffic is high. This seems to be even more important this year, particularly for Amazon Prime Video. 

In the last month, new video streaming services BritBox and Apple TV+ launched in the UK and Disney+ is set to launch in March 2020. They will each rival Amazon Prime Video: gaining Prime Members now will put Amazon in the strongest position to compete.

Obvious in its pursuit of new members, one of Amazon’s headline deals offers 50% off Prime for the first three months.

Amazon website (9am) - 29 November 2019

Amazon website (9am) - 29 November 2019

Groundhog Day?

As for Amazon’s top deals, there are striking similarities to Black Friday 2018. Lego and Garmin both feature in the top deals in 2018 and 2019, although the products promoted are mostly different.

Amazon website (9am) - 29 November 2019

Amazon website (9am) - 29 November 2019

Amazon website (9am) - 23 November 2018

Although Garmin appears in Amazon’s top deals, many of Garmin’s promoted items, including the Forerunner 235, Forerunner 35 and Approach S10, were cheaper on Prime Day 2019 than today.

UK Shoppers can be assured of a good deal on the Amazon Devices, though: the Echo Dot 3rd Generation was at its lowest ever price, and the Fire TV Stick was the same price it was on Prime Day.

Just this month, Nike announced that it was ending its first-party relationship with Amazon . Clearly there isn’t too much bad blood between the companies as Amazon is heavily promoting Nike shoes sold by third-party sellers. This is the first time in recent history that deals through third-party sellers have been so prominent on Black Friday.

Amazon Echo Show v Google Nest Hub

Some Black Friday traditions remain the same - Amazon and Google are fighting it out once again in the smart home category. As in previous years, Google has teamed with Amazon’s rivals to promote its products with consistent deals across all retailers.

Amazon promoted its Echo Show 5 on banners at the top of the deals page and on the first page of its Black Friday deals. The Echo Show 8, which on specifications is a closer rival to the Google Nest Hub, is conspicuously absent from Amazon’s banners.

This may have been a calculated move by Amazon as the Echo Show 8 is only £10 more expensive than the Echo Show 5 and could cannibalise its sales. The Google Nest Hub was priced at £59 across Amazon’s rivals and the Google Shop, just 99p less than the Echo Show 8 which has a 1” bigger screen.

Amazon and Argos website (9am) - 29 November 2019

Amazon and Argos website (9am) - 29 November 2019

In the past, we’ve seen Amazon adjust the order of its own device deals on Cyber Monday. It is possible they will give the Echo Show 8 greater visibility on Monday when tech sales are higher.

Currys Price Promise Reassures Shoppers

This year, Currys reiterated its Price Promise to shoppers: if Currys sells a product which can be purchased for less from a rival retailer within seven days, Currys will refund the difference. This is an excellent way to reassure shoppers when purchases might be further discounted on Cyber Monday.  Currys should also honour the Promise should its own items show further reductions.  

Currys started running early Black Friday deals on Friday November 22 however, on Wednesday November 27 (two days prior to the event itself), it deepened the promotion of a number of these products. For example, the HP 15s-fq1515sa 15.6" Laptop was discounted to £329 on November 22 before being further reduced to £299 five days later. Shoppers who bought at £329 could now ask Currys for a refund of the £30 difference.

One of the biggest frustrations, even for the savviest of deal-seekers, is not knowing when to make the purchase because products might be further reduced in price as the sales event evolves through the weekend and into Cyber Monday. Although introducing Black Friday deals early allows shoppers more time to evaluate and monitor deals, it might exacerbate the problem of deciding when to make the purchase.   

Gaining shoppers’ trust should be of great importance to retailers going into the Black Friday period as it will ultimately boost conversion rates. Introducing schemes such as Currys Price Promise go a long way to allaying shoppers’ fears. Reiterating the promise ahead of the holiday is likely to prove a clever move.

Cyber 5 Front Runners

While category leadership pre-Cyber 5 doesn’t guarantee leadership during and post Cyber 5, it is certainly the most favorable position to drive going into the holiday season, especially in light of the increasing number of challenger brands from D2C, digitally native, specialty channel, private label and exclusive brands all surging and chipping away at the market leaders’ share. 

Source: Edge by Ascential Market Share: L12 Category Rankings w/c 10/20

We are tracking online performance of top brands in 18 different categories across the US and UK, including Vacuum Cleaners above, across their respective top category retailers so to spotlight the Cyber 5 Front Runners in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.  We will then have real time coverage during Cyber 5 and will recap the Cyber 5 Finalists afterwards!

Cyber 5 Front Runners: Featured Categories
Category Reports

Cyber 5 Front Runners: Featured Categories

Check out the Cyber 5 Front Runners in your favorite categories and download the category snapshots and our Digital Commerce 2020 planning guide to help you further jumpstart your brand’s performance in the year.

Visit Our Cyber 5 Hub

Chris Elliott
Article by:
Chris Elliott
Senior Insight Analyst, Edge by Ascential
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