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December 1, 2015

Black Friday, Cyber Monday

What did it mean to you?

Last year we posted a series of articles around this American phenomenon, from how to prepare your site, stockroom & marketing strategy to questioning its existence and longevity. I think we were right to attack this from a slightly cynical viewpoint as we, in the UK, have always had our smattering of seasonal sales throughout the year and did we really need another?

To get this straight, my personal stance is similar to that of web designer, Pete Clark. I find that there is a part of this occurrence that simply encourages oniomania; an irresistible–uncontrollable urge, resulting in excessive, expensive and time-consuming retail activity. And I have been there myself. Retail therapy usually gives you that little warm feeling, but many can be left feeling cold and dejected due to missed deals or regrettable earlier purchases.

Where is the happiness?

In this article I will cover the stats, a few thoughts, some examples of Black Friday landing pages, email subject lines, and a whole load of reading links for your pleasure. FFWD to the bit you like.

The truth

The crux of the matter is that we are highly influenced via marketing and the media, coming from as far as the US. And, the present giving festive season is a mere 4 weeks on from Black Friday, striking panic and emergency to those who have not yet bought their presents and who fear the thoughts of stepping out into the cold on the Eve of Christmas among thousands of other last minute shoppers.

But, with last year’s negativity, who wants to brave the cold and face the sales-crazed crowds?

Bricks and mortar have lost out to online sales. This year Bloomsberg have been reporting a lower surge on sales; a decline on Black Friday, replaced by a slightly extended period and a heightened Cyber Monday as it evolves into Black Friday Weekend and Cyber Week. The Guardian has also reported a very similar statement in their review. However, it was still a record breaking weekend!

According to Experian-IMRG – £1.1bn was spent online on Black Friday, up more than a third from last year.

John Lewis also reported there had been a “different pattern of trade to last year”

Sales seem to have been the best, unsurprisingly, for Amazon; you can’t really beat the marketplace. The majority of big selling products were technology items; Kindles, TVs, but also wearable technology and LEGO.

The truth is, it is a great time to pretty-up your site, hone in on your marketing, really drive your customer service and perhaps to have a little sale, especially as Christmas is just around the corner. Let’s entice those shoppers to come to you whilst they have the shopping bug. With an increase of competition, markets, niche, and independent stores, wherever you fit in, you have to have something special on offer, be it your handmade shoes or low, low prices. But, don’t make this the be-all and end-all, this really does matter all year round.

What to do

If you don’t

If you’re not going to do anything next year, then hold onto that thought and don’t waiver, perhaps your stock is far too valuable to discount, don’t worry, your clientele will understand and respect that. I actually saw a high-value designer feebly trying to join in and it just looked tacky and lowered my view of them.


Perhaps you already offer great prices. Last year Aldi made a deal of Black Friday being the same as every other Friday, and this year TK Maxx among others joined that stance. All they had to do was to change a banner and hold onto their usual processes. I would like to see what their weekend revenue looks like because; after someone scours the web and looks for the best item at the best price everywhere, the fact that they are in the mindset to buy, so if your stock and prices are the best you could gain sales without lifting a finger.


Some retailers took a more charitable approach. For example Fat Face took a stand against Black Friday and rather than reaping the profits themselves decided to offer 10% of their takings to local charities. Now, I already thought that Fat Face were quite cool, but they have just gotten extra nice points and a new window shopper if not a converting visitor.


If you do

If you do decide to join in with the Black Friday / Black Friday Weekend / Cyber Monday / Cyber Week in 2016, then really do follow through with thought. I have seen so many deals which are lacklustre and badly designed, and are paired with even worse customer service and postage.

“A staggering 10% of that won’t be delivered on time and that’s because retailers haven’t got their back-end fulfilment capabilities – their organisation, processes and infrastructure – in place to cope with the marketing hype that has been created around Black Friday.” – Stuart Higgins in BBC news.

Think about the user journey, ensure stock numbers are up enough to recoup losses, and make sure that postage will be reliable. Don’t assume that a discount sign will automatically attract someone, there might be a bigger, sparkly discount sign somewhere else. This year, there’s been an onslaught of attractive gifs on the website and in email marketing, I have to say that I did click on them myself – I just couldn’t help it!



Mobile friendly

Without fear of sounding too dated right now (because I still see sites which aren’t) make sure that your online shop is mobile friendly. Earlier this year we saw the Google mobile-friendly changes roll out and, unsurprisingly, IBM reports Black Friday record sales on mobile devices this year. It’s a short-lived sale, people want to grab things quickly, compare prices easily. Click Buy.


Landing page design

Headers and banners

Let’s take a really quick look: John Lewis kept things simple and timeless, the categories were given a black background especially for Black Friday (weekend) and the banner perfectly complements the style.

Argos went for a contrast of eye-catching photography and a simple splash of pink.

Now let’s check out the female fast fashion brands:



I feel that Topshop was lacking a bit of pizazz, it all looked a little naff. Either DO or DON’T do Topshop.

Vans went quite classy and very cyber-‘them’.

Marriott Hotels made a big ‘deal’ of the whole thing:


Looking good Tesco.


Email marketing

Think about your subject line. Be creative. Be targeted.

A users’ inbox could end up looking like this:

At least try to differentiate:


But, even better, STAND OUT. My personal favourite subject line was ASOS’:
Hell yeah, this brings out the teenage shopaholic in me!

I have to say that I was shocked (and entertained) enough to want to click on Missguided’s statements ‘Let’s Cyber’ and ‘Epic Cyber Sh*t’:



Got the cyber bug?

Read more about the Black Friday / Cyber Monday results at these trusted sites: