By Lee Jones – Director of Sales and Business Development, Ingenico Enterprise Retail
The busiest time of the year for retailers is approaching, and it’s all hands-on deck to prepare for the Black Friday rush. Analysing Ingenico transaction data over Black Friday weekend last year showed that not only did overall sales volumes rise by 25%, but the millionth transaction for the day was hit at a staggeringly early 6:33am. This is a clear indicator that Black Friday is a true force for businesses if they know how to play it right.
Shoppers are increasingly expecting a seamless retail experience, and many will be turned off by a complicated payment process – ultimately leading to abandoned baskets online or diminishing footfall in-store. As the peak sales season approaches, it is more important than ever for merchants to provide a hassle-free payments process to avoid losing out on sales and frustrating customers.
The evolution of Black Friday
As the Highstreet continues to undergo its ecommerce evolution, Black Friday shopping is no different. A desire for convenience, such as free next day delivery and shopping from the sofa, alongside a competitive-rich marketplace, has meant that footfall continues to fall year-on-year.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that in-store should be overlooked. Last year Ingenico gathered key data from its large retail customers in Europe over the Black Friday weekend, which found that in-store grossly outperformed online when it came to transaction figures. While ecommerce was certainly on the rise over Black Friday 2018, with sales reaching €573.21 million – a 12% increase from the previous year – and transaction volumes reaching an impressive 6 million, in-store came up top by a landslide. Over Black Friday 2018, in-store sales rose an impressive 27% to €2.17 billion, with in-store transaction volumes trumping online seven-fold - totalling 42 million.
Taking a slice
Although there are many reasons why someone would prefer to shop in-store rather than online - such as trying items on before buying, or seeing a product in action – it’s important to get the balance right to offer the consumer a seamless experience no matter how they wish to shop. To make the most of the annual shopping bonanza, it is therefore crucial that stores offer a truly omnichannel experience, hitting customers across every touchpoint, and providing a seamless shift across both online and in-store.
Last year’s Black Friday profits yielded an impressive £7 billion for the British retail sector. Processing this level of traffic requires a sophisticated system and getting it wrong on one of the biggest shopping days of the year will likely hinder sales and damage customer confidence. People are time poor these days - if things are taking too long, they will look elsewhere.
A focus on conversion and customer UX is key, so retailers can avoid any major issues. This is where website and payments optimisation come in, so retailers don’t lose money and potential customers. Uninterrupted, smooth and consistent payments processing is crucial, with an infrastructure that is able to support these processes reliably. As Black Friday bargains evolve from one peak sales day to a whole week, the pressure for retailers and payment providers to deliver is certainly high.
For merchants partnered with Ingenico, they have a reliable payment processor on their side. Ingenico ensures that it operates below the required transaction volumes, to keep the system running smoothly and reliably for merchants. That way, it doesn’t matter whether sales happen on one day or spread across a few days, the retailer will always have enough capacity to ensure that seamless customer experience. Between the peak sales hours of 11am and 12pm on Black Friday 2018, Ingenico’s systems processed over 933 transactions per second - with plenty of capacity to spare.
What else can retailers do?
The customer experience is essential during peak periods. Stores should be preparing everything they need to optimise sales in advance. It’s well known that the Highstreet treads a thin line when it comes to performance, and a bad in-store or online experience is not soon forgotten, particularly if it means missing out on a Black Friday deal. Having consistency across all channels, so customers feel they get the same support whether they are buying online or in-store, is key. When in-store/online systems differ, this can add friction to the payment experience.
Customer support during these peak times is also important and staff need to be available for customers queries to limit frustration. It’s the little things, like shop floor staff circulating with mobile devices in-store to prevent huge queues or chat boxes to answer online questions, that provide an excellent customer experience.
Peak sales can pose a huge challenge for retailers, but Ingenico Enterprise Retail’s payment processing power can provide a safety net of reliability for anyone wanting to cash in on the Black Friday madness.
To learn more about how Ingenico’s services support retailers during peak sales, visit: www.ingenico.co.uk
Lee is the commercial leader for Ingenico Enterprise Retail in Northern Europe. Lee and his team have an unparalleled track record of helping organisations deliver a reliable, secure and fuss free checkout experience.
Having held a variety of leadership roles with market leading technology companies over a 20-year period, Lee is passionate about driving solutions that deliver real value to his customers.
Leading Ingenico into new markets, where the introduction of cashless payments is just starting to emerge, while supporting existing customers in their ambition to meet and exceed shopper expectations is something which highly interests Lee. Lee is proud of the trust customers have placed with Ingenico and his team. Being able to help organisations reduce the cost, complexity and burden of PCI while assuring their revenues and enabling them to increase their customer satisfaction scores is at the heart of the Ingenico Enterprise Retail strategy.