Tech Bytes: Three Singles Day lessons for Black Friday prep

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Tech Bytes: Three Singles Day lessons for Black Friday prep

Retailers that still don’t believe they have anything to learn from Singles Day may have a long road ahead if they want to stay competitive.

The 24-hour shopping extravaganza, held on Nov. 11, brought in $25.3 billion in sales (or gross merchandise value), up 39% compared to 2016. In addition to more than 140,000 Chinese brands and 60,000 international brands participating in this year’s Singles Day event, 225 countries and regions completed transactions throughout the day.

In one day, this event eclipsed the $12.8 billion in sales that happened between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday in 2016. So what exactly sets Singles Day apart from the biggest shopping weekend here in the United States?

For one thing, too many domestic retailers still rely on deep discounts to attract shoppers. While Singles Day had its share of promotions, these alone will not lure shoppers. Singles Day is all about putting the customer first and making it enticing for them to shop.

As retailers prepare for the make-or-break Black Friday shopping weekend, they too need to look beyond one-day sales, exclusive sneak peeks and door busters.

Here are a few ideas worth considering:

• Think outside of the box. It’s not too late to add a little excitement to the most anticipated sales weekend of the year. Why not transition Black Friday weekend — or the days leading up to it — into its own event?

Forego early door busters for “late-day” promotions. Consider in-store fashion shows that feature the season’s hottest looks.

Or, host an in-store party that serves refreshments and features demonstrations. For example, Walmart plans to throw three themed parties at its stores (for a total of 20,000 parties chainwide) over the course of the holiday season. All parties will include product demonstrations of top holiday items that customers can test (and, in some cases, taste).

“Call it the anti-Black Friday sale,” said Roland Gossage, CEO, GroupBy. “It is about changing the format and squeezing as much excitement — and sales — as possible in a new, more exciting way.”

• Double down on social media. The key to reaching today’s digital shopper is to be on the same channels they use daily — including social media. While all of the major networks are crucial to a retailer’s marketing strategy, brands should evaluate which social platform drives the most engagement and interaction — and then run with it.

Once you are positioned socially, use influencers to share your message — in videos or live broadcasts. During Singles Day, more than 600 international brands used celebrities to promote their merchandise, according to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).

• Master mobility. With nearly three-quarters of consumers (73%) planning to use their mobile devices to assist with holiday shopping, according to, retailers better step up their mobile game — especially if they want to take advantage of Cyber Monday.

It’s crucial to keep digital customers engaged as they search for gifts and make purchase decisions both at home and in-store. That said, ensure that mobile web sites and apps have adequate bandwidth to handle increased visitor and browsing volume; step up usability and simplify navigation, and secure payment capabilities.

This optimization is a must as 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site with which they struggled, and 40% will opt for a competitor’s site following a bad experience, according to Google.