Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Rise of Black Friday

I haven't posted in a while - it's always a bit intense when you start a new job and, unfortunately, I just haven't found the time. 
I was intending to write a second part to my last post, reading into the merchandising on a different retailer's site. But after yesterday, no self-respecting British retail blog could fail to write about Black Friday!

Black Friday was fairly high profile last year, but this time around, Verdict were reporting that 47% of UK shoppers were planning to take advantage of a Black Friday deal and Visa were predicting an increase of 22% on 2013 online sales. 
As it turned out, the police had to be called to several Tesco stores, where the shopping had just got out of hand, while websites such as Argos were inaccessible at several points during the day due to the sheer volume of traffic.

It is interesting that the American post-Thanksgiving promotions have just caught on in the UK. 
Though I was very aware of the event, I didn't really shop myself - I was (naturally enough) busy at work (as are a lot of people are this time of year) and, at the moment, my focus is on buying presents - not snagging a cut-price TV or upgrading my phone.
However, despite the impracticalities, Brits really warmed to the day. My boyfriend started the week asking 'what's this Black Friday-thing?' and ended it ringing me at work in an agony of indecision over whether to buy a 70%-off monitor!

Some retailers could certainly have handled it better and I'm sure they will next year. It means lower margins, but higher volumes for businesses, which should, if everyone is sensible, be very much in the shoppers' interests. 
It will be interesting to see what happens on Boxing Day. The start-date of these sales has crept earlier and earlier each year, detracting from the excitement surrounding them. And for some, shopping is always going to be the last thing you want to do the day after Christmas.
And it will be fascinating to see what happens on 27th November 2015.

Here are the details of the black products above:
Misfit Activity Tracker £79, Pebble Smart Watch £99, Jawbone UP24 Activity Tracker £99, Motorola Moto 360 Smartwarch £199
Senheiser Momentum Headphones £200, B&W P3 Headphones £170, Bose Beoplay A8 £849, Sony SRS X9 Speakers £599

Monday, 3 November 2014

Ways of Working 2

Acne Lambswool Jumper £230, Caron Piu Bellodgia Eau de Parfum £105, House of Hackney Palmeral Teapot £70, Deborah Lippmann Nail Polish Weird Science £16, Marni Felt Sandals £355

So recently I discussed how I've been adopting two strategies when merchandising. The first strategy is, of course, data-driven: number of sales, of clicks... Now the second strategy - style, or function, or colour, etc. - isn't chosen at random. But instinct definitely comes into it. I try to intuit the most common deciding factor when purchasing the products on a certain page and I work with that.

For example, on a page of serious hiking rucksacks customers are likely to be influenced by technical criteria - capacity, number of compartments, ergonomic design of the straps... While for a page of little daysacks, the look of the bag - colour, print, etc. - might be more important.

Trail and error is of course very useful when selecting a second strategy. And market research no doubt sheds a lot of light.

I looked at the website of one of my favourite department stores, to see if there was any evidence of this shopping-habits-influenced merchandising on their pages: 

I would have expected the skincare pages to be organised by function. They started with a row of anti-aging concentrates/creams, but after this my impression was that they were organised by sales. You saw several cleansers, exfoliants, etc. together at times, but it could have been chance.
There were eight categories to click into and, in the first two of these, there were four subcategories. On the category pages, the products seemed to be grouped by brand, with a couple of groupings for each brand. Perhaps a high percentage of customers interact with these categories - making the layout of the All page less important. And perhaps the customers also know what brand they are looking for before they arrive at the site, and so don't need to compare different makes of moisturiser... Alternatively, this grouping by brand could just be the result of the product upload process!
You could filter by price, colour (a bit irrelevant here but I suppose it has to be the same for everything - lipstick to skincare) and again  brand. There were two options by which you could sort (price and newness).

The nail varnishes, which I would have thought should be organised by colour, were grouped by brand and then - or they seemed to be anyway - colour. At the top of the page there were some commercial-looking reds and a peach, then some pinks and purples, these were followed by metallics and some rich blues/greens, then primary colours, then pastels and so on.

I wondered whether I would see the candles ordered by fragrance-type - fresh, floral, woody, etc. I found that they were grouped by brand and then there was some evidence of the floral scents all being together, with the fresh scents after and the oriental scents after that, though it could have been chance. There were also some lip balms and soaps in with the home fragrances, which was a bit confusing.

Without knowing more about their sales and systems, it's difficult to say whether this retailer merchandises according to shopping habits for particular products. But I have a feeling they might.