South Africans can expect Black Friday 2020, which takes place on 27 November, to be much bigger than previously, with more online specials that run for longer.
This is the view of two industry experts, including Parcelninja CEO Justin Drennan and uAfrica business manager Anita Erasmus.
Game and Makro recently announced they will be running Black Friday deals throughout November 2020, instead of restricting them to a five-day period.
Many other retailers are expected to do the same to avoid congestion during a short period amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Drennan told MyBroadband that Black Friday 2020 will be the biggest yet in South Africa, but they do not expect everything to happen on 27 November.
Instead, many retailers will run Black Friday specials for a week or even a month, as in the case of Makro and Game.
This is aimed at “stopping all the drama happening on one day, and to align with COVID-19 restrictions for Black Friday”, Drennan said.
Erasmus echoed these views, predicting that Black Friday sales will be less focused on the Black Friday weekend, but will run across the whole month of November.
“This will result in less pressure on the actual weekend of Black Friday, which we think will be beneficial to online stores, as well as improve the customer’s experience,” she said.
Based on the increased uptake of online shopping fuelled by COVID-19, Erasmus also believes far more Black Friday sales will be conducted online compared to previous years.
“This will not just be due to customers trying to avoid crowding in physical stores, but also the changes in buying behaviour that required many South Africans that had never bought online before to start buying online during the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic,” she said.
Avoiding system problems
In previous years, many online shops crashed during Black Friday because of the spike in traffic when specials were released.
While this remains a risk, Drennan believes it will not be as significant this year because of changes in technology.
“Many online businesses run on software as a service (SaaS) platforms which are scalable and up to the challenge,” he said.
Payment platforms should also be prepared for the spike in transactions after they received a wake-up call in previous years.
The biggest problem is expected in logistics with tremendous pressure on courier services to deliver much higher volumes over the Black Friday week.
Some encouraging news is that there has been a big shift to owner-driver models for courier companies which scales much better than traditional models.
This means the system can scale up or down and quickly to acquire additional drivers when it is needed.
This should, at least in part, be able to address the increased delivery volumes which are expected over Black Friday 2020.
Erasmus added that the sudden and unexpected increase in ecommerce activity during the month of May 2020 has prepared them greatly for this year’s Black Friday spike.
“It required us to look at our business and ensure that we can adapt accordingly with short notice and without warning,” she said.