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SA retailers buy into Black Friday

Nov 28 2014 16:28
Matthew le Cordeur

Black Friday has officially landed in South Africa.

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Black Friday gets nasty in the UK

Cape Town – South African consumers have embraced Black Friday in an unprecedented way, showing that they are ready to take part in the famous US sales day.

Checkers [JSE:SHP] was the first official South African retailer to fully adopt the US sales day, which traditionally occurs the day after Thanksgiving in the US.

Makro is having a Pink Friday sales days, playing off their corporate colours.

Ecommerce companies like Kalahari, Spree, Zando and Superbalist also had Black Friday takeovers of their site, which have battled to keep up with the unprecedented response from consumers.

Other companies running Black Friday specials are Dion Wired, OneDayOnly, HiFi Corp and DBG/Uniterm Direct.

READ: Black Friday gets nasty in the UK

South Africans are cordial folk

With police in the UK criticising their big retailers for not controlling crowds fighting over products, Checkers marketing director Neil Schreuder said the retailer had similar crowds, but said they were quite content and patient. “We didn’t have a single incident,” he told Fin24.

“People were queuing and there was mayhem, but it was exciting for retailers,” he said. “Us South Africans are quite cordial folk. There were thousands queuing, but they were jovial. We had people giving out coffees in the queue.”

Schreuder said the day had exceeded their expectations. “The response was unprecedented,” he said. “We’re hoping to get figures similar to Christmas eve, which is the biggest shopping day of the year.”

“We like to lead the industry and give our customers something extra for Christmas,” he said, “It’s like our fireworks in the sky. Our customers are hungry for a bargain.”
Kalahari to extend Black Friday

Kalahari marketing director Liz Hillock said it has been their biggest sales day ever. “Sales and traffic to our site is massive,” she said. “Our servers have been struggling today, so we have extended our Black Friday to midnight on Sunday.”

She said while the big sales day is a US-centric initiative, it is a great mechanism to kick start the festive season. “Customers want to see big discount deals and they spread the word socially.”

Hillock said there were a few smaller sites that did it last year, but this is the first year where the bigger retailers have come on board.

Hillock said Kalahari is all about giving low prices every day, which makes Black Friday extra special. “A lot of the products are at below cost today,” she said. “It’s not sustainable to have these prices but it’s about giving back to consumers.”

Shopping Spree

So far, Spree had a 528% increase in orders compared to the average number of daily orders placed in November. “From a traffic perspective, looking at the data up to 15:00 today, Spree had had 93% more visits to our website than the same day (to 15:00) last week,” said Spree’s head of customer interaction, Karen Dempers.

Site performance is always crucial for eCommerce players, but even more so when the brand has launched a campaign and put marketing investment behind it, explained Dempers.

“We had a strong sense that Black Friday would be one of our biggest days ever and were ready,” she said. “Our dedicated server infrastructure, which is hosted at Optinet, has failover and redundancy in place and Spree was up the entire day – even during our busiest period when our concurrent sessions were more than double what we usually have on our site.”

“This was the first time that Spree ran a Black Friday campaign,” she said. “We have, however, run a number of mid-season and end of sale sales, as well as Spree Days (where we offer our shoppers 20% off site wide) so we had a good sense of how great deals can drive up traffic and transactions.”
Superbalist site crashes

Superbalist’s site crashed on their Black Friday campaign, with their social media team taking to Twitter to apologise to countless upset customers. “Sincere apologies Ashe, it's been chaos here,” rear one tweet.

“The site is still down at the moment, and we really apologise for this,” they tweeted. “The promo is on until midnight, however.”
South Africans not feeling the love

There were consumers who felt that this campaign should have remained in the US, calling it the "Americanisation of South Africa". 
* Disclaimer: Kalahari and Spree are a part of Naspers, which also owns Media24, the parent company of Fin24.

checkers  |  kalahari  |  black friday


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