Printers partake in and reap rewards of Black Friday frenzy

Richard Stuart-Turner
Friday, November 26, 2021

A number of printers have joined in with this year's Black Friday event, offering discounts on services and special offers, while extra print work has also been generated for marketing around the event.

Black Friday has generated additional direct mail activity
Black Friday has generated additional direct mail activity

For some companies the offers are on only for today (26 November), but there has been an increased trend this year to spread the deals out, with many having already started earlier this month and some set to go on into December.

Printers offering promotions this year include Nettl, which has a wide range of products and services discounted until Tuesday (30 November), Photobox, which is offering “up to 70% off” and a free pack of Christmas cards – excluding delivery – today only, and Vistaprint, which has up to 40% off select products until Tuesday.

Some kit suppliers also have deals this year, with German company Ghost, which showed two recently launched machines at Fespa last month, launching a week long 15% off deal on its entire product range today, in its “biggest sale ever”.

Black Friday has also generated a raft of additional direct mail work, with the Printweek team receiving letters and catalogues from companies including Healthspan, Very, Vodafone and Go Outdoors, among others.

Healthspan sent a 6pp roll-fold mailer in a sub-A5 format, Very posted out a single sheet with pick and place discount card in a DL envelope, Vodafone sent a single sheet with C5 envelope and Go Outdoors sent a 64pp A5 naked mailing.

Black Friday began as a post-Thanksgiving festivity in the US, where it marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Introduced to the UK by Amazon in 2010, it is now one of the country’s biggest shopping days of the year, with retailers across the board cutting stock prices to fuel sales before Christmas.

A new survey by Quadient into shopping behaviour and parcel delivery expectations found that 50% of respondents will do most of their shopping for Black Friday and Christmas online this year, compared to 21% who expect to mostly shop in-store.

It said that, for online shoppers, home delivery remains the most popular option (33% compared to 32% in 2020), highlighting the importance of being able to safely and conveniently receive deliveries at residential properties.

But the company also discovered that in 2021 45% of those surveyed missed a delivery to home or work and required re-delivery attempts or depot collection, up from 31% in 2020.

ParcelHero head of consumer research David Jinks said last year’s UK Black Friday sales of £6bn would climb to over £7bn this year and that while this would be “great news for retailers”, he warned it would be irresponsible for businesses to concentrate all their bargains on one day to avoid adding more pressure to supply chains.

“Hats off to all those retailers who have been running deals for much of November, making this The Long Black Friday. That helps keep demand on a smooth curve rather than create a sudden peak that may be too hard for some retailers to climb, given the current supply chain crisis.

“We are now facing a staggering list of global and domestic logistics problems. In the UK, Brexit has caused a shortage of thousands of HGV drivers and warehouse staff, and it is creating growing delays at customs. Chinese manufacturers have been hit by Covid, which has created stock shortages on many items including the chips to make electronic goods. All these disruptions to the supply chain mean that goods ordered by UK sellers are stranded in their containers.

Any retailer who thinks it’s sensible, in the face of all this turmoil, to focus all their bargains on one day or weekend is asking for trouble.

“Delivery networks are already at full capacity. Black Friday could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Those retailers who haven’t been selling throughout November must think again and stagger bargains throughout December, rather than release them all on Friday.”

Jo Causon, chief executive of The Institute of Customer Service, meanwhile cautioned that while it wasn’t surprising to see many businesses looking to boost their sales with heavy Black Friday discounts after a tough festive season last year, it was important for businesses to consider the potential consequences of taking a short-term view.

“Against a backdrop of an unstable economic environment and severe staff and stock shortages, it’s more important than ever for organisations to carefully consider how Black Friday discounts fit with their wider values - and ensure that the core principles of excellent service are not overlooked in favour of short-term profits.

“There’s no denying that the events of the past few years have shaken the customer experience landscape – and as the nation’s economic situation remains volatile, building and maintaining customer trust is more crucial than ever before.

“A report from Which? this week warned that last Black Friday, more than 90% of the deals being marketed were in fact the same price as the six months before the sales event.

“Whilst it’s up to organisations to choose how they present their deals; at a time where purse strings are tight and tempers are short, breaking customer trust with misleading marketing risks long term damage to brand reputation.

“The truth is, the way organisations treat their customers will be remembered long after the sales have passed, and those that fail to offer a high-quality customer experience risk losing loyal customers in the long term.”

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