Amazon Consumer ESG Podcast Retail leadership Returns

In Conversation with Amazon UK Boss John Boumphrey

Recording live from the retailer’s new Second Chance store in London, Amazon UK Country Manager John Boumphrey joins Natalie on the podcast to discuss:

  • How is Amazon extending the life of returned goods through its Second Chance programme?
  • How can the wider industry overcome the returns challenge?
  • Futureproofing – with more disruption on the horizon, how does Amazon ensure it stays relevant to customers?
  • Consumer outlook – does JB expect consumers to remain relatively resilient as we move into 2024?
  • From drones to generative AI: what technologies and innovations should we be watching?

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Consumer Fashion Podcast

‘Positively Dissatisfied’ M&S, Trailblazer Next, Black Friday Predictions

Retail expert Maureen Hinton joins Natalie to discuss retailer resilience. Which fashion retailers are defying the economic climate and what is the secret to their success? Maureen also shares her views on the state of the consumer and whether the Black Friday deals will sizzle or fizzle.

Connect with Maureen on Twitter/X and LinkedIn

Learn more about our work at the KPMG/Retail Next Retail Think Tank

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Discounting Podcast Retail trends Returns

It’s Going To Be a Bumper Black Friday

Love it or loathe it, Black Friday has become a permanent fixture on the UK retail calendar.

Carrying black Friday paperbags

In this episode, Natalie shares her predictions and general observations around Black Friday 2023. You’ll learn:

  • Why Natalie is expecting a strong turnout this year.
  • Black Friday creep – why retailers like John Lewis are going earlier than ever before.
  • Whether the growing skepticism around Black Friday will impact shoppers’ willingness to participate.
  • Why blanket discounts are out and targeted promotions are in.
  • What the ONS and BRC data tells us about Black Friday 2023.

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Retail trends

Black Friday 2022: Less Frenzied, More Focused

We went from Black Friday to Black November, but this year I’d say we’re having a Black Autumn. There has been a constant stream of discounts since September. This is particularly true in fashion, where a combination of unseasonably warm weather and cost-of-living pressures have really dampened demand. Yes, people are hungry for bargains, but they have to be genuine ones. Shoppers have become desensitised to all of the “20% off everything” sales. Blanket discounting is causing promotion fatigue.

The appeal of Black Friday has also been diluted because shoppers have cottoned on to the fact that it is a manufactured event and prices are not always at their lowest. Black Friday is designed to drive impulse purchases and instil a sense of FOMO. But according to Which?, only one in seven Black Friday deals offer a genuine discount.

Electricals is typically an exception here, as retailers have more margin to play with, but this category is likely to underwhelm this year. Consumers spent the pandemic kitting out their home offices and entertainment spaces so demand for new technology will be much weaker than normal.

Meanwhile the World Cup – and particularly the timing of tonight’s England vs USA match – will also add to the Black Friday fizzle. Retailers are likely to extend the discounting into the weekend, as Friday night celebrations keep people from shopping.

I’d also like to think that there has been a deep societal shift, as more and more shoppers reject the idea of excess consumerism. Let’s face it, Black Friday is gluttonous. It’s wasteful. It drives up returns and millions of products ultimately end up in landfill.

Despite all of this, shoppers will be out in full force today, sussing out the deals but in a more restrained manner compared to previous years. Black Friday will be less frenzied, more focused. Big-ticket purchases will be more considered and this year, more than ever, shoppers will be utilising the technology in their back pockets to check prices and ensure they’re getting a bona fide bargain.

There will inevitably be those that get caught up in the adrenaline-filled rush of Black Friday shopping. Buyer’s remorse will be strong this year, and retailers should be preparing for a mountain of returns.


Black Friday: Expectations & Amazon’s Pop-Up

Tonight, I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Amazon UK’s latest bricks & mortar experiment – ‘The Home of Black Friday’ pop-up in Shoreditch.

This is the second year that Amazon has opened a temporary showroom in a bid to raise awareness of the 10-day discounting bonanza that is possibly now only trumped by the retailer’s very own artificially created shopping event – Prime Day in July. But I digress.

Love it or loathe it, Black Friday has become a permanent fixture on the UK shopping calendar and we have Amazon to thank for bringing it across the Atlantic back in 2010.

Three Black Friday observations for 2018:

1) More like Black November. Black Friday is getting longer: Amazon, Argos and Debenhams are just a handful of retailers running week-plus long events. Consolidating the bulk of your Christmas trade into 24 hours tests even the most advanced supply chains. Doug Gurr, MD of Amazon UK, mentioned tonight that one of the reasons Amazon has extended Black Friday in recent years is to “take out some of the pinch points”, operationally speaking. So, although spreading the event out over a couple of weeks might dilute the sense of urgency traditionally associated with Black Friday, it should ultimately result in a more streamlined experience for both retailer and consumer and, ideally, lead to lower returns rates. Previously, many shoppers who got caught up in the one-day frenzy would end up with buyer’s remorse and by the time the returned product made its way back onto the shelf (particularly for an online order) it would have to be further discounted.

2) Promotion fatigue/consumer scepticism. Consumer group Which? is warning shoppers not to get “duped by dodgy deals” since last year nearly 9 out of 10 Black Friday ‘bargains’ were cheaper at other times in the year. I’d like to think most consumers today are savvy enough to understand that Black Friday is mainly a lot of noise, with a few genuine bargains the mix. According to PWC, half of UK consumers are not interested in the event at all this year with 11% warning they would intentionally avoid shopping altogether.

3) But peer pressure… Despite the many harmful effects of Black Friday – erodes margins, pulls spending forward, dilutes trust and credibility, etc – it’s equally risky to shun it altogether. This is the only time of the year when retailers genuinely have a captive audience. There is an appetite to spend, a reason to loosen purse strings, and not many national retailers are brave enough to miss out on the potential sales. B&Q is the only genuine exception I can think of (even Next took part last year). On paper, M&S is shunning Black Friday again this year but they have been running 20% off sales for Sparks members. Limiting the deals to loyalty cardholders is a more subtle approach, but a blanket discount can be just as effective when it comes to driving footfall.

Amazon’s ‘The Home of Black Friday’ pop-up

As with most of Amazon’s bricks & mortar experiments, The Home of Black Friday pop-up has very little to do with shifting product. In fact, it would be a stretch to call this a shop (to be fair, Amazon doesn’t). It’s a showroom designed to humanize the Amazon brand, to tempt shoppers into the retailer’s very sticky ecosystem, get them engaging with the app and ultimately driving adoption of its various devices. If you’re interested in why Amazon is pushing so heavily into bricks & mortar retailing, there’s a whole chapter dedicated to exactly this in my upcoming book which launches in just six weeks!

The Home of Black Friday is located at 3-10 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6PG and will be open to the public from 22-25 November.