By Kabelo Ngwane, Head of Customer Success at Infobip
Despite tough economic conditions, such as surging inflation and the rising cost of living that are forcing consumers to tighten their belts, South African retailers are preparing to cash in on the busiest day of the year for retail sales – Black Friday. However, experts warn that inflationary pressures and a much more informed and savvier consumer is likely to force retailers to take a more pragmatic approach to Black Friday, as market uncertainty and lower disposable income are negatively impacting consumer spending.
This means that retailers are likely to have to fight tooth and nail for every sale this year, especially in a very crowded and competitive online marketplace, which will force companies to evaluate their offers more critically and adopt strategies that will enable them to stand out from their competitors.
Robust growth in 2021
Last year, figures released by two major banks showed that consumers were shopping in greater numbers than in 2020, but not at the levels seen before the start of the pandemic. One South African bank reported that spending on Black Friday increased by 19% year-on-year at its speed points, with the bank’s cardholders making purchases of about R2.5 billion, an increase of 15% compared with 2020. Another South African bank reported similar transaction patterns, with total card transactions for Black Friday increasing by 17% compared with 2020.
This year, with confidence falling among all income groups, it is evident that companies that take the time to put the customer first and work hard to meet or exceed consumer expectations will be well positioned to weather the economic uncertainty.
To this end, retailers need to define a hyper personalised communications approach when targeting customers with items that are appropriate and meet their preferences to successfully convert sales. Hyper personalisation is a combination of marketing and data analytics, a process where marketers combine real-time customer data, sourced from multiple touchpoints or channels, to create an ultra-detailed per customer modelling strategy.
As opposed to conventional personalisation, hyper personalisation fine-tunes customised advertising for relevance for each individual customer to maximise customer response and increase sales. Many brands, especially those in retail, leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies and Machine Learning (ML) to analyse customer data to get a key understanding of a customer’s intentions, which allows them to target the right communication at the right customer.
However, there are various other things that online retailers should also consider if they want to be unique and attract current and new customers to their offers on Black Friday. Firstly, retailers must ensure that their websites are available on a 24/7 basis, as well as that they provide customers with the option to communicate with the brand either through a chatbot or an agent at a support centre.
Another option is for retailers to gamify their Black Friday offers by, for example, inviting customers to visit their website and spin a virtual wheel to win a prize to attract traffic, or to discount a different item every hour via their portals. This will not only attract online traffic, but also ensure that customers spend more time on the retailer’s website waiting for a product they are interested in to be discounted.
Social media channels
Secondly, e-commerce platforms should also consider leveraging social media channels to market their offers on Black Friday. For instance, retailers could harness the popularity of a platform such as Tik Tok and use an influencer to advertise their offers. Influencers often have millions of views on their posts which could attract potential customers.
But whatever marketing strategy retailers choose to deploy on Black Friday, it must be underpinned by an omnichannel customer engagement approach that gives customers a choice over how they want to engage – whether through chat, voice or other virtual channels.
Omnichannel retailers are experiencing exceptionally high growth figures, and creating a highly personalised and seamless customer journey should be the foundation on which retailers can differentiate themselves and their offerings on Black Friday.