Black Friday 2017: Perspectives from across Awin’s global network

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Black Friday 2017 promises to be another huge event for Awin’s partners and over the last few weeks we’ve been speaking to representatives from a mix of these publishers, advertisers and agencies around the world to understand how they’re preparing for the big day and what regional predictions they have ahead of it.

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In the US, where the tradition of Black Friday as a shopping day following the festivities of Thanksgiving has a long history, the event has gradually evolved from an exclusively in-store experience to one that is increasingly participated in online.

Given that legacy, there is much to be gained from tying these two experiences together as US–based performance marketing agency PartnerCentric Inc explained in our interview with them, “On Black Friday, we try to encourage more site-to-store offers because as large families gather together, some of their traditions still include going Black Friday shopping in-store. These in-store offers complement the online offers, which typically continue through Cyber Monday. We also will propose add-ons such as free shipping or even a gift with purchase to entice those shoppers who are at work and looking for deals.”

For a brand like the UK-based fitness apparel retailer Gymshark, Black Friday represents a unique opportunity to make gains in a huge but highly competitive market such as the US. “As a brand we only have two sales a year. Customers know this is the time to buy if they want a discount…our existing customers went crazy for our Black Friday sale last year, spending very highly and purchasing multiple items. New customers really bought into the sale as well, and we have seen them continue to buy with us. The biggest benefit for us was that when a new customer found us they kept on coming back.”

Black Friday's global adoption and influence

Outside of the US, Black Friday has been eagerly adopted by all of Awin’s regional territories with every market, from Brazil to Russia, witnessing a huge spike in interest from local shoppers seeking out deals and discounts. The Polish luxury luggage retailer WITTCHEN elaborated on this in our interview with their Eastern market representative, Krzysztof Baseek; “Last year we were able to observe the impact of [Black Friday] on sales in Russia - to our surprise, sales were ten times higher than the standard days.”

In France, the deals publisher Savoo saw a similar uplift according to their Country Manager Adlan Belhadj. “A milestone was reached last year in that we generated six times more revenue in 2016 than in previous editions. We also felt a lot of enthusiasm for the whole sphere of affiliation around [Black Friday]. Many ecommerce merchants played the game by pushing very attractive offers and promo codes which had the effect of massively increasing the conversion rate.”

One of the interesting aspects of this adoption of Black Friday into other cultures has been how it has altered the shopping habits in these countries, changing previous consumption patterns to fit around the particular traditions of that region. As Thomas van Mastbergen, Head of Digital Marketing at the Dutch luxury sports brand BALR explained, “We suspect that more and more Dutch people will be waiting for this weekend for their Sinterklaas and Christmas shopping.” Sinterklaas being the annual tradition in the Benelux region of celebrating the name day of St Nicholas on 6th December.

Media exposure and attention has played a large role in promoting the concept of Black Friday to consumers in these countries. BlackFridayNederland.nl was the very first dedicated website in the Netherlands for Black Friday and launched as recently as 2015. Its founder, Pablo Druijts, described the recent transformation in popular understanding of Black Friday there: “At the start of our platform you could notice that visitors were especially interested in the meaning of the concept of ‘Black Friday’. Thanks to a huge increase in media attention, the meaning of Black Friday is now known to many Dutch people and the majority of them are therefore looking for offers and participating stores. The impact on our business has been enormous; our visitors increased by about 320% in November 2016 compared to November 2015 and we have seen our sales increase fivefold!”

The importance of preparing for the Black Friday surge

Of course with that added interest from online shoppers, publisher and advertiser websites need to ensure that they can handle the enormous traffic loads that a sale period like Black Friday can instigate.

Juan Mazzotta, Head of Business Development for Global Savings Group in the Italian market highlighted just how large that spike of traffic could be, “This year we expect to reach a full month's traffic in two days. In 2016 we achieved spectacular results and our ambition is to improve year after year. Nowadays we understand the behaviour of users much better and are working to meet their expectations.”

For many websites the preparations have been underway for some time. Luisa Beck, from Germany’s largest electronics retailer, notebooksbilliger.de, revealed the work that has been done in the background to prepare for this year’s event. “We equip our website for the high demand with six additional servers and carry out further optimisations in our system, so that customers can shop at any time on all platforms (desktop, mobile, app) trouble-free. Before the Black Weekend, special resilience tests are carried out to guarantee the perfect start to the action.” 

Similarly in Brazil, Sao Paolo-based fashion retailer AMARO have moved to ensure that they are able to process and deliver on the huge sales they expect to see on the day, “Due to the growth in sales and, consequently, a very large increase in the number of orders, we are investing more and more in a good logistics strategy. AMARO is known for providing their customers with the best online experience in the Brazilian market. It is fundamental that during Black Friday we continue to meet the expectations of our customers, so we invest heavily in the logistics and the customer journey.”

Macro factors that can impact performance

For a market like the UK, an early adopter of Black Friday, the event is well-established enough that retailers have come to rely upon it for hitting annual sales targets. With so much riding on a positive Black Friday performance, participants are increasingly sensitive to the influence of external macro factors that may affect it.

For Chris Johnson, Partnerships Director at Vouchercloud, one factor above all else will be of interest in 2017. “I’m keen to see what the ‘Brexit effect’ will do for markets this year. The weaker pound, whilst not great for those living and operating in the UK, is contributing to an increase in orders from outside of the UK as luxury and desired brands become more affordable – this may contribute to heightened growth spikes in the APAC region this year.”

Whether that prediction is accurate or not will have to wait until post-event analysis has been conducted. However Vouchercloud are sharing up-to-date information on their UK-based sales through a live map that tracks where their users are currently redeeming offers, a compelling illustration of the extent to which Black Friday has been embraced by the UK’s shoppers.

Regardless of what region we consider, the numerous conversations we’ve held with partners around the world recently make apparent the extent to which Black Friday is now considered an important ecommerce date in their markets. As an opportunity to grow a business, engage new customers and compete for market share with rivals, it is hard to beat. How each of these partners fares this year remains to be seen. 

You can read more of our interviews with local partners by heading to any of the regional Black Friday interview pods below:

Brazil

France 

Germany

Italy

Netherlands

Nordics

Poland

Spain

UK

US