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Christmas in Summer: Growth opportunities for retailers

Now that we know what peak sales are, we can start to look at how retailers can harness these opportunities and take full advantage. 

Retailers have more peak sales periods at their fingertips than ever before. But getting the right strategy in place, and making use of the right technology are vital in making the most of the opportunities to engage new and existing customers.

Figures from Ingenico, the global leader in seamless payments, show that some peak sales periods that are more lucrative than others, regardless of your industry or even location. Black Friday, Singles’ Day and Cyber Monday consistently secure the highest number of transactions right across Europe. 

Looking at Black Friday in particular, it saw 21% more transactions in Europe than Singles’ Day, which was the second highest. Compared with the average Friday in 2018, Black Friday saw a 90% increase in the number of transactions, while the average value of transactions was up 175%. 

Who to target?

For smaller retailers to take full advantage of a peak sales day like Black Friday, they must assess who to target; which shoppers are most likely to purchase their product and where. 

Ingenico’s in-depth analysis found that a quarter of shoppers in Europe chose to shop exclusively with small and medium-sized retailers in the run-up to Black Friday and the day itself, rather than heading to the eCommerce giants. In fact, the analysis found that the reason behind this rise was the appeal of targeted and nice products and services. 

Change of heart

It’s important to bear in mind that while high-growth sales figures are a big lure, smaller retailers need to consider refunds to complete their measure of success. And major peak sales periods often come hand-in-hand with high refund requests. 

In fact, across Europe 31% of shoppers admit returning an item they no longer wanted or needed following a large sale. The Netherlands and Germany saw particularly large numbers, with around 40% of customers sending something back. 

There was positive news in 2018, however, as the rate of returns fell from 4.3% in 2017 and 3% in 2016 to just 1.9%. It suggests shoppers are becoming for savvy during busy sales, really thinking about whether or not they really need to make a purchase. 

With consumers spending more but returning less than ever before, retailers are only just scratching the surface of peak sales. 

How consumers shop

Thanks to technology, consumers have more and more ways to shop and purchase products, allowing them to choose which best suits their needs. Even mobile shopping is advancing beyond websites and apps, with shoppers now able to make purchases directly through social media platforms like Instagram. And, of course, there are still plenty of consumers who prefer to do their shopping in-store, to see the product, to test it, to try it on. 

Across Europe in 2018, the majority of shoppers made their Black Friday purchases online through a laptop or computer. This was particularly prominent in the UK (68%), whereas just 26% bought in-store. In fact, looking at Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and the UK, only Spain saw a greater number of shoppers who bought in-store than online (56% vs 53%).

In 2019, there is no excuse for small and medium-sized retailers not to offer online and mobile shopping experiences. But without the large budgets of the retail giants, they really need to focus on providing a customer experience that is personal and user-friendly to engage with shoppers. 

These insights are based upon Ingenico’s ‘Preparing for Christmas this Summer’ e-book. You can download the full e-book here.