Black Friday finally took hold in the UK this year thanks largely to a huge marketing push by retailers.

Econsultancy has previously rounded up a number of stats from the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, and here's some new data from Affiliate Window.

The company's affiliates recorded 1m sales in the UK over the four day pre-Christmas peak trading period.

For more on this topic, read Econsultancy’s posts on Black Friday email marketing campaigns and the retailers that failed to adequately prepare for the traffic surge.

1. Black Friday was a daytime event, Cyber Monday an evening one

This year marked the first time Black Friday went fully mainstream, receiving acres of press coverage in advance of the big day.

This hype seems to have translated into traffic peaks between 7am and 9am, in marked contrast to the comparative restraint of Cyber Monday which correlated more with a normal day’s trading with resultant lunchtime and evening spikes:

Only late in the day did Cyber Monday overtake the sales performance of Black Friday, as the online feeding frenzy waned.

Interestingly a significant number of consumers appeared poised and ready to check out the biggest and best deals as Black Friday began, with the sales gap between the two days particularly wide in the early hours of the morning.

For retailers the importance of capitalising upon that early interest and consumers’ sense of urgency is obvious.

2. Smartphones influence, tablets convert

The difference in click to sale conversion rates between smartphones and tablets across the course of the day was significant.

Both platforms saw sizeable increases in traffic and sales but smartphone conversions slumped at certain times in the day.

Tracking performance across the day shows even more startling divergence. The pre-work peak saw a fourfold difference in conversions between tablets and handsets, perhaps a classic case of consumers researching products, offers and deals whilst on the go, before transacting, potentially on another device, later in the day.

Clearly the cross-device impact of the Black Friday weekend is brought into sharp focus and illustrates why it will be central in understanding the full contribution that smartphones bring to the path to purchase.

3. Black Friday’s traditions boosted average basket values

Typically known in the US for its killer deals on tech, Black Friday has traditionally been more focused on big box items like televisions.

This was emulated in many of the deals, promotions and offers available in the UK, resulting in a decent boost in average order values (AOV). Understanding the mix of affiliates who are most adept at driving this interest is clearly critical in maximising sales:

Tablets trumped all with AOVs in excess of £100 for several hours on Black Friday while smartphones trailed someway behind.

4. The cut-price frenzy found perfect bedfellows in different affiliate models

As a channel whose commercial model is premised on conversions, killer deals and offers are a huge consumer trigger in the affiliate channel.

Contrary to opinion, consumers who redeem vouchers and codes are not poor quality customers but will seek out the best deals available.

The Black Friday weekend was an obvious trigger for affiliates featuring the best offers, many securing additional coverage well in advance of the big day.

It is no surprise that this traffic dominated across the four days:

5. It wasn’t all about the big brands

Whilst John Lewis, Currys and M&S may have grabbed many of the headlines, we were pleased to see a smaller brand claim the biggest valid transaction of the weekend across the entire network.

Wex Photographic proved that smaller retailers could muscle in on the brands, securing a single sale of almost £12,000 including a camera and associated photographic equipment.

As Black Friday showed, the pre-Christmas momentum has shifted, now dominating the tail end of November rather than the traditional second Monday in December (that saw year-on-year growth of 10% compared to Black Friday’s 140%).

When the dust settles in 2015 and brands look back on the successes and more salutary lessons of 2014, it will be interesting to see whether they choose to fully embrace the occasion with such fervour again and, if so, how more detailed insights will help shape their approach.

Kevin Edwards

Published 23 December, 2014 by Kevin Edwards

Kevin Edwards is Strategy Director at Affiliate Window, the current Chair of the IAB's Affiliate Marketing Council and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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Comments (2)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

Triggered Messaging saw different results. The post seems based on numbers from affiliate marketing , which is not evenly spread across market sectors, so that might explain it. For our numbers, see:

(1) Black Friday/Cyber Monday are certainly big, with sales over 2x normal on both days.

(2) Distribution of Sales: The first chart in this post shows Cyber Monday as much smaller than Black Friday - Friday looks about 30% bigger. We saw the exact opposite, with Monday about 10% bigger.

(3) Cart Size: we saw Black Friday with standard cart sizes and Cyber Monday 10% bigger, so very little difference.

(4) But I agree it's not about the big brands. Many of our major brands, e.g. in Home&Garden and Holidays&Travel kept their powder dry and sat this one out, leaving the laurels to agile marketers such as in Hitech.

over 3 years ago

Kevin Edwards

Kevin Edwards, Strategy Director at Affiliate Window

Hi Pete,

Thanks for your comments. We have a really even spread across sectors and some of our biggest performers were telco clients (rather than retail) on Black Friday, although overall the volume of retail clients meant this sector prevailed.

We work with about half of the top 100 retailers in the UK so believe our data is reflective of general online trends (we also tracked around £35m in sales on Black Friday so it is a significant dataset).

IMRG reported sales lower on Cyber Monday and our data broadly backs that. Last year Cyber Monday just pipped Black Friday for us so we were confident with the ramp in interest, hype and offers that Black Friday would be substantially bigger - the biggest day we've ever seen.

On basket size, typically the types of product being purchased (overall) were slightly different with a greater emphasis on bigger ticket tech items which will have accounted for the hike in AOVs.

over 3 years ago

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