What started as a post-Thanksgiving blowout sale by US retailers has snowballed into one of the most significant calendar days for consumers and the retail industry the world over.
Black Friday, which always falls on the day after the US’s Thanksgiving holiday, is characterised by deals so cheap they’re almost free and the frenzied shoppers trying to snag them.
With the rise of e-tailers, bunfights for deals have moved from in store brawls to an online race of fastest finger first – and we have the lowdown on how to make sure you aren’t caught sleeping.
“Black Friday may have started as a day where businesses pushed older stock for clearance purposes, but it has morphed into a stand-alone sale day driven by the fact that people know for certain that the very best deals are available,” says Matthew Leighton, spokesperson from South African e-tailer OneDayOnly.co.za.
Online shopping in South Africa has grown tremendously over the years, with OneDayOnly.co.za recording over 150 000 new website users on Black Friday alone in 2018. The e-tailer made South African history last year when they dropped the first ever 100% off deals.
According to data from retail tracker, Black-Friday Global, 2018 Black Friday sales in South Africa increased by 1952%. “64% of South African shoppers will use both online and offline sales. With discounts reaching as high as 100% off, being ill prepared for this shopping showdown could be the difference between you getting your mother-in-law a pressure cooker for Christmas, or a framed picture of her pet’s birthday party.”
To ensure you are well prepared and get the most out of all the promotions from pantry fillers to home theatre systems, Leighton shares his expert Black Friday cheat sheet:
* Know your websites – He advises first time online buyers and not-so-seasoned Black Friday shoppers to get to grips with online shopping before the day to avoid performance anxiety. “Familiarise yourself with the website the day before- that means pre-logging into the website of your choice and for the extra-attentive, pre-loading your payment details. That way you can focus all your energy on the deals on the day.”
* Pull an all-nighter – During last year’s sale, OneDayOnly.co.za consistently showed high traffic volumes throughout the day, peaking at 06:00 and with spikes at 8:00, 11:00 and 15:00. “Our sale is from midnight to midnight. 00:00:01 is when we officially ‘open our doors’ and sales continue until stocks run out or midnight rolls around. Hit the caffeine and try stay up until midnight. You are automatically guaranteed to be one of the first to see the deals as they go live.”
* Dot Your I’s And Cross Your T’s – With so many deals being advertised and promoted on social media on the day, it’s easy for consumers to get overwhelmed. Leighton says the best way to plan your shopping is to create an ordered list of the items you want from high priority to low. “A shopping list always helps – it’s a great way to keep track of what you want so you’re not wasting time.”
* Pre-load your payment details – “On a normal day, it takes around three minutes for the average consumer to select a product and check out but on Black Friday 2018 it took on average seven minutes and 40 seconds once a user landed on the website to check out.” He advises consumers to ensure their payment and log in details are logged before the day, to ensure a smooth experience. “The longest part of the checkout process is completing your payment method which can be pre-saved beforehand. It just means you can go from browsing to checkout as quickly as possible.
* Check out or miss out – Unless the building you’re in is on fire, or you’re faced with other life and death scenarios that justify you missing a great deal for tube socks or the latest game boy (are there any?), Leighton strongly advises against stepping away from your device during checkout. “This is the biggest day for deals and if you think that Samsung 65″ UHD TV will still be there when you return, you need to rethink your game plan.” With so many shoppers looking for the best deal, if you don’t click that check out button, it’s very likely that someone else is eyeing the same thing as you, at the same time. “Having an item in your cart does not secure it. You need to check out or miss out,” he adds.
Black Friday may have gained quite the cult following in South Africa, but with these tips you should be able to check off most of your festive season gift list. Leighton concludes with his two ultimate tips on the day: “Be patient: pages will take longer to load on Black Friday than on any other day of the year. Clicking refresh will start the loading process over again and although it’s hard to wait patiently, give things two or three seconds grace.
“Lastly, pay attention to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. So much on-the-day information is dropped on social media, and it will help you stay in the know.”