26th Nov 2015
Asda’s decision to pull the plug on its Black Friday shopping event may have surprised some, but the supermarket is not the only business with concerns that shoppers are becoming frustrated with flash sales.
In fact, as many UK retailers ready themselves for the US-inspired discount event this week, Institute of Customer Service chief executive Jo Causon has warned that “rapid-fire stock shifting can do retailers more harm than good”.
“Heavy discounting in a concentrated period of time might be attractive to some customers,” Causon concedes. “But in a trading environment that is looking less robust than just a few weeks ago, how organisations manage their profitability and performance over the long term must surely be a greater priority for the boardroom.”
It’s not just the unstable retail environment that gives businesses cause to reconsider their involvement in Black Friday. With customers increasingly perceptive about the rationale behind slashed prices, many prioritise good service over a cheap deal.
“Many realise that flash sales are little more than a way to reduce old stock and the savvy consumer is now more concerned about the support they’ll get if things go wrong,” Causon explains. “Customer satisfaction in the UK may have stabilised in recent months, but there is huge polarisation in performance between the organisations intent on improving the customer experience and those looking elsewhere.”
Retailers should avoid building anticipation over such a short time, she adds, as it increases the chances of customer dissatisfaction – particularly if a product sells out or a website crashes due to too many visitors. “A poor experience leads customers to look elsewhere, and it will be the organisations that put long-term reliability over short-term revenue whose trading will do well long after Black Friday is over,” she notes.