Blog Post - Patrick Munden, Mar 24 2017

Adapting the retail calendar: the effect of proactive peaks

Adapting the retail calendar: the effect of proactive peaks

By Patrick Munden, Head of Marketing & Communications, Salmon

In recent years the proliferation of new shopping days has exploded at international levels, changing the retail calendar as we know it. In the UK we have adopted the US’s Black Friday, which has grown in prevalence year on year. Amazon has also created its own Prime Day in July, where it offers Prime customers special discounts on thousands of items, thus making it their busiest day of the year. Similarly, Singles Day stands as the largest peak day in China, generating a staggering $17.8 billion in revenue.

Thanks to these new peak shopping days, retailers are having to take note and adjust their retail calendars as they have had an effect on traditional sales windows. For instance, January’s sales figures unexpectedly fell by 0.3% MoM according to ONS and is likely down to the fact that older and more traditional peaks like the January sales are now not what they once were. Black Friday Week and other sales weeks in the run-up to Christmas now dominate the bargain landscape.

Previously, January would see strong sales thanks to retailers holding off discounts until after Christmas. It’s often the case that as the Black Friday and the Christmas peak period come to a close, consumers tend to be more cautious with their spending. Yet what the figures clearly highlight is that retailers can no longer expect a strong online offering to guide their business through low sales peaks.

Moreover, thanks to the sheer number of sales and discount days available, we have seen a clear emergence of a variety of bargain shoppers which retailers now need to be mindful of too. One such example would be ‘Basket Bandits’, who identify items ahead of the Black Friday period and place them in their online shopping baskets, ready to pounce and click ‘buy’ as soon as items are discounted. The margins are clearly smaller on Black Friday for a retailer, but building that service loyalty with a customer will keep them coming back.

Emulating Amazon is no mean feat, of course, but retailers must now begin to create their own ‘Proactive Peak’ days in order to keep pace with one of the hottest trends in e-commerce at the moment. To compete with the biggest players, it’s no longer enough to simply ‘react’ with arbitrary sales on Black Friday. Retailers need to be creating their own proactive sales days to lure consumers in or take advantage of peak periods in international markets. Why has no-one claimed Singles Day in the UK yet, for example? Brands and retailers could also tailor their custom-made sales peak to the customer in the future using Programmatic, offering personalised offers based on purchasing/browsing data. This could help grow a retailer’s customer base and loyalty immeasurably.

If there’s one lesson to be learnt, it is this: retailers – seize the (Proactive Peak) day!