A raft of printers across the country have launched special offers and discounts on products and services as they embrace the 10th Black Friday event.

While some companies have launched one-day offers just for today (27 November), others are extending deals across the weekend to Cyber Monday (30 November), or longer.

Those getting involved this year include B2C and B2B specialist Moo, which is offering 30% off everything until Wednesday (2 December), and Photobox, which has up to 70% off across its site until midnight today, including – topically – 40% off personalised face masks.

Personalised print specialist Printster has launched a special promotion that runs from today until Monday that enables customers to spin a roulette wheel on their site to win one of four different discounts off their order.

Grafenia’s brands are mid-way through an eight-day period of offers and deals that conclude on Monday, with various discounts available on products and services at printing.com, Nettl and trade print wing Marqetspace.

Grafenia chief executive Peter Gunning told Printweek: “In the summer we launched Works Makers, where we are hooking in third-party manufacturers of niche products. So we’ve got a whole new range of business gifting options and we’ve given the Works Makers a chance to reach our tens of thousands of clients with things that they can gift to businesses during December.

“This is the first year we’ve introduced the business gifting angle to it – it’s usually around print and exhibitions but we’ve changed the range given that exhibitions are cancelled.”

He added: “Black Friday is just a reason to contact clients; we just want to always have some new message and new reason to keep in touch and front of mind.

“We’ve done Black Friday every year for the last five. With print it’s not like buying a pair of shoes, you need time to decide what you’re marketing, and you want to proof it, so we give people a few days to get things together so that they can make the most of it.”

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 Centre for Retail Research (CRR) report for VoucherCodes has found that UK consumers are predicted to spend £7.5bn over Black Friday weekend this year, down 12.4% from the £8.6bn spend last year.

The anticipated drop in spending, which would be the first fall since the event began, is being blamed on lockdown store closures, with non-essential shops across England not reopening until Wednesday, when measures will revert to the  tier system.

With much of the activity therefore limited to online sales, it is anticipated that sales at online stores will hit £5.8bn, up 53% on last year, with retail stores making up just £1.7bn of the total and losing out on an estimated £3bn worth of business.

But ParcelHero head of consumer research David Jinks has warned that the surge in online shopping demand created by Black Friday could result in a repeat of delivery problems seen in 2014.

“Last year, 387 million of the 462 million Christmas peak deliveries were online shopping orders. This year, retailers’ deliveries alone will put an estimated 592 million parcels in the system in the weeks before Christmas.

“Due to Black Friday, this Mount Everest of Christmas peaks will spike between 27-30 November – still inside the critical lockdown period in England.”

He said the higher-than-expected scale of online ordering in 2014 caught retailers off guard.

“Nearly one in three (31%) online shoppers experienced problems with their orders that Christmas, 49% suffered from missed deliveries due to overstretched companies’ erratic delivery patterns, while 45% experienced late deliveries or never received their goods.

“What was a struggle for retailers became a pitched battle for delivery companies.”

He added: “Black Friday 2020 has all the hallmarks of 2014. Delivery networks are already at full capacity and then some. Black Friday could well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Either retailers must stagger bargains throughout December, or their delivery partners are going to have to borrow Santa’s sleigh. Otherwise, this Black Friday will have many shoppers seeing red.”

Jo Causon, chief executive of The Institute of Customer Service, meanwhile cautioned that while on the surface the event offers “a real opportunity for businesses to boost sales and attract much-needed new customers” after the blow caused by the pandemic, they should consider how they approach their involvement.

“Poorly conceived Black Friday activities can jeopardise long-term customer loyalty. And those that prioritise shifting stock over delivering a high-quality customer experience could risk permanent damage to trust and reputation,” she said.

“Those that attract customers with Black Friday offers – and provide a quality service – can secure repeat custom long into the future.

“Of course, this means getting the basics right. Failed or late deliveries, systems that struggle to cope with spikes in demand, or inadequate staff levels can all impact both the conversion of new customers into long-term relationships and the continued loyalty of existing customers.

“And there is also the risk that Black Friday deals leads them into a more positive experience with a competitor.”


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