Last year Black Friday was a relatively new promotional concept for retailers in the UK. 

Fast forward 12 months and you’d be hard pressed to find a UK consumer who hasn’t heard of Black Friday or been on Amazon. 

While lots of retailers put on sales, Amazon was the most impressive for me. Here’s why… 

As you are no doubt well aware, the deals weren’t simply restricted to the Friday and they weren’t restricted to the internet either as retailers (both pure play and high street) took to the TV to promote their “black friday” “black tag” “black weekend deals”.

As always there were winners and losers and, as has already been well covered on Econsultancy, some sites’ servers were creaking at the seams.

So as a follow up I thought it might be interesting to demonstrate the scale of last week’s internet activity and put it into some context with a “vs last year” analysis on a bunch of retail websites.

But to start with I thought I’d share my opinions on what Amazon did this year. 

Just to be clear, I’ve never been a huge fan of Amazon and have often felt its user experience is often overlooked due to the sheer scale of the site and dominance in the retail sector.

However, I was extremely impressed with the lightning deals promotion which had obviously been thought through for a long time, considering the UX throughout the entire journey.

Firstly the deals were strong and they covered a vast amount of categories,  something for pretty much everyone. The little things that really impressed me though was the attention to detail in the UX. 

  1. The countdown timer to ‘reveal the deal’. A nice little feature to increased dwell time on the site and let users browse the up and coming deals.

  2. The % claimed feature. This was a great feature to hide the fact Amazon may have been light on stock of a few items. At the same time it gave a sense of urgency for the shopper to get this in the basket and checkout quickly.

  3. The deal time limit. A great feature to really make the shopper feel like they obtained a one off bargain.

  4. The time limit on checkout in combination with the ‘join waitlist’. A nice feature to not only improve conversion but also give other people a second chance to get the deal.

    This enabled Amazon to encourage shoppers to be logged in and also offered an indication to the likelihood of a second chance arising – nicely managing expectations.

  5. What’s also impressive is that Amazon temporarily tinkered with important areas of the site (add to basket) for a promotion and made a good job of it.  

 black friday lister 

And the basket page creative…

amazon basket image

The only area where I felt Amazon didn’t step up to the mark was down to the fact you didn’t get the same experience on the mobile as you did with the desktop site, as a couple of the above features not present.

Amazon’s Black Friday traffic 

A lot od people subconciously liked the same features as I did and visited the site a number of times, 173m times to be precise.

Amazon was already the mother of all retail websites but last week its website traffic was up 83% vs the same period last year (an increase of 78m visits) and it’s been well documented on the volume of items ordered every second.

Amazon a clear winner for me last week. 

So how did everyone else do?

For me, after the Amazon experience I was quite disappointed with all other retailers. I’ve listed below a handful of major retailers and their traffic lift on last year to show the scale of Black Friday.

But the most disappointing thing for me was was the lack of creativity. It was all about 10% off here, 20% off there, free shipping etc.

Although Amazon appears to have heavily discounted (and probably didn’t make a great deal of profit) it did it in a way that was innovative and created a real buzz.

I’m not convinced that people were actually all that enthused about the deals – I actually rather think Amazon successfully created a mechanic which drew shoppers in and used wizardry to extract money from shoppers. Well maybe not quite wizardry but my point is that the player everyone worries about is the only one raising the bar higher. 

Future predictions for Black Friday

So for next year I expect to see retailers looking more at the entire week rather than a single day or weekend in order to beat their LFL numbers.

I would expect that more retailers have looked at what Amazon did this year and they will be thinking about what they can do that will be more engaging next year, that increases time spent on the site, repeat visits and boosts conversion and generally takes it to the next level.

And, no doubt Amazon will push the boundaries again next year. 

Here’s  a complete list of UK retailers’ traffic for Black friday 2014 vs 2013