How Super Retail Group plans to win Black Friday (and Christmas)

Australian retailers are well positioned to take advantage of the expected uplift in online shopping this holiday season, showing increasingly mature approaches to the rash of sale events in the lead-up to Christmas and utilising click-and-collect to capture last-minute shoppers. 

This is according to James Johnson, regional director of customer success and retail practice at Salesforce, a global software company which surveyed more than 10,000 global consumers, including more than 2500 in Australia and New Zealand about their holiday shopping behaviour.

The survey results, released in Salesforce’s latest Connected Shoppers report, together with sales data from the likes of Walmart, Woolworths and other major retailers that use its platform, confirm the industry has reached a tipping point when it comes to peak season. 

“Three to four years ago, December was the largest month, but with the rise of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, November is now the key trading month,” Johnson told Inside Retail Weekly

While there has been a good deal of hand-wringing over the margin lost to discounting, Johnson said he has spoken with a wide range of retailers that are taking savvier approaches to the sale events than in years past.

“Whereas previously it was a blanket site-wide offer, now it’s more targeted and considered, whether from a product assortment perspective – purchasing products specifically for those events – or being more restrictive around the promotional conditions,” he said.

Brian Townshend, Super Retail Group’s general manager of omni-retail digital capability, told Inside Retail Weekly major sale events are an important part of the company’s overarching peak season strategy. 

“They not only represent a huge opportunity to acquire new customers and obviously convert those people and drive sales, it’s starting to impact their buying behaviour as well,” he said.

“Black Friday has become so ingrained in the consumer calendar, there will be a significant slowdown in the run-up to those events, because people are less inclined to buy in the four or five days before, and then pile in hard.”

According to Salesforce, 47 per cent of global shoppers said they will only buy items on sale this holiday season, and 60 per cent of Australian and New Zealand shoppers said sales or promo codes will influence their holiday purchases.

Super Retail Group, which owns the Supercheap Auto, BCF, Rebel and Macpac brands, has started to factor this behaviour into its merchandise planning and buying, Townshend said. While the retailer previously selected the items it wanted to “hero” during the sales from its existing range, it’s now building its peak season range around its sale “heroes”. 

“The strength of our brands and our relationship with suppliers means we’ve got some amazing deals,” he said. 

Click-and-collect set to soar

Looking beyond the November sales, Salesforce is predicting a 20 per cent increase in online shopping in the ANZ region this holiday season. That’s higher than the 15 per cent increase it expects to see globally. 

Johnson said retailers that offer click-and-collect will benefit the most from this bump, due to Christmas falling on a Wednesday this year. Customers will be more likely to place a last-minute online order on the Friday before Christmas if there’s an opportunity to collect it in-store, he said. 

“There’s a competitive advantage in executing it well, and the timeliness of the options to pick it up,” Johnson said.

Townshend agreed that online shopping will be critical to Super Retail Group’s Christmas trading. 

“Absolutely, more customers will be buying online,” he said, noting that the company has taken steps to improve its fulfilment ahead of peak season. 

Supercheap Auto now offers 30-minute click-and-collect; BCF and Rebel offer two-hour click-and-collect; and Macpac launched click-and-collect for the first time over the weekend.

“As you get closer to Christmas, buying with confidence that you can get the item delivered on time is paramount,” Townsend said. 

“Online sales actually drop off the closer you get to Christmas, and click-and-collect goes up.”

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