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Three trends we discovered this Black Friday

Did you join the Black Friday bandwagon this year? Whether you got stuck in or stayed away, this year it felt as though Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) were bigger than ever. Not just that, the amount of emails hitting inboxes to let consumers know about the bargains to be had were non-stop.

It’s at this time of year that we’re always interested to take a look at the stats from our cloud-based contact data validation platform. It’s used by organisations from every sector to check and correct their customers’ address, email and phone number in real-time as they’re inputted on a website.

For retailers that’s normally an integral part of the checkout process for their many millions of customers and because thousands of the busiest websites on the planet utilise Experian's products and services, Black Friday makes for some interesting stats!

Black Friday is here to stay

Early indications show that whilst the high street didn’t fare as well, internet sales soared again. It’s no surprise that we saw the number of requests to validate contact data spike on our own platform over the Black Friday period as customers ‘checked out’ all their bargains. On Black Friday itself there was a huge uplift of 230% versus a normal day and at peak times our customers were validating hundreds of addresses, emails and phone numbers every single second.

What’s even more interesting however is that when we dig a little deeper we’re starting to see some trends that give us some idea as to how this now global phenomenon is evolving. Here’s a few that caught our eye:

  • It’s starting earlier - you may have noticed many retailers laying on discounts across the week before Black Friday. Our stats tell a similar story. Year-on-year there was a 20% uplift vs Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year but interestingly the largest uplift came in the days preceding, with the Tuesday and Wednesday seeing more than 33% growth YoY. It seems that retailers are competing to attract eager shoppers by starting their sales earlier - will ‘Black Friday Week’ be here to stay?
  • It’s a global phenomenon – as has been widely reported, Black Friday is well and truly established across the world. Whilst activity ramped up for all our customers globally, what’s interesting is that this year we saw higher levels of international address validations. Our customers are able to validate the addresses of 155 countries and this year we saw with Black Friday requests coming from such far-flung locations as Andorra, Bermuda, Greenland, Guadeloupe, Kiribati, Mongolia and Yemen. Retailers appear to be gaining more international customers and it’s likely the case that existing customers are buying gifts to be shipped to loved ones overseas.
  • Email is more important than ever - whilst we see more companies across all industries validating many more addresses, emails and phone numbers overall, it’s email that is making the biggest gains. This year we noticed an increase in email validations of over 180% as retailers respond to an expectation that often this is their primary method of communication with their users and must be right. Of course, organisations must have the relevant consents in place to capture this information in the first place, so it’s encouraging to see them also taking responsibility for making sure the information is as accurate as it can be.

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Why validate data as you capture it?

Making sure the data you capture is accurate as it goes into your systems is a critical data quality activity (you can read more in this blog here). For retailers, in particular, it’s more important than ever during the Christmas period and here’s why:

1) It speeds up the checkout

Time poor customers who are trawling the internet for bargains need the process to be quick and easy or they’ll simply move on to the next offer. Using data capture tools mean that they can enter an address of 40+ characters in just 7-10 keystrokes and that’s even more important if using a mobile where entering data is even more fiddly.

2) It helps you to retain new customers

Christmas is a time when retailers on-board many new customers. They may have been drawn in by a great offer, or may simply be buying a gift for someone. This is a chance to start a great on-going relationship - get their details wrong and you have no way of contacting them again.

3) It avoids a negative impact on your reputation

Getting an address wrong and delivering gifts to the wrong address or not sending delivery notifications due to an incorrect email address won’t make for happy customers!

4) It supports your SCV

With data coming in thick and fast through multiple channels there’s a risk that you’ll create duplicate records in your systems. Capturing accurate data will help you recognise where you already hold a record for that customer and enable you to link them together and maintain a single view of all their interactions with you.

5) It helps to drive efficiency

Collecting incorrect details for your customers doesn’t just make them unhappy, it also makes work for retailers who may need to manually correct details, manage complaints when things go missing and deal with returned items that couldn’t be delivered.

Our data capture solutions in the cloud are used by retailers globally because of the speed, accuracy and ease of integration they offer. Black Friday may be over (for this year at least) but with the January sales not far off, it’s worth considering whether you’re capturing the best possible contact data to enable you to build relationships with new customers in 2019. Read more about our solutions here.