Black Friday is here.

By here, I mean here in Europe. And it’s here to stay.

Amazon launched Europe’s first Black Friday sale in 2010, with a small fanfare and some success. Most European retailers did the polite thing, and looked bashfully away while their brash American cousins celebrated a day with zero cultural significance this side of the Atlantic. “We’ll wait for Boxing Day” was the overwhelming sentiment.

But consumers bit, and the following year a small handful of global brands like Apple and Walmart (in the form of its UK subsidiary Asda) followed suit. Black Friday grew somewhat organically.

But 2014 was different.

Previous Black Friday successes unleashed a literal tidal wave of copy-cats in the run up to Christmas last year. This was most publically a UK phenomenon, with well-known brands like John Lewis taking part, but don’t fool yourself into thinking it was just a quaintly British emulation of the American trend. French and German retailers like Darty and Saturn also indulged. Akamai saw triple the normal web traffic to retail websites across Europe on Black Friday. But it was the UK that bore the brunt of the impact as:

  • High profile websites buckled and crashed under unprecedented load, with many retailers reporting upwards of a 300% uplift in traffic on Black Friday.
  • Riots in stores saw police called.
  • Fulfillment failures rippled through the days following Black Friday.

A handful of  retailers considered the day successful in the overall context of the holiday season, but many reported that all the Black Friday bonanza did was pull sales forward in the season, resulting in the same overall sales like-for-like, but with worse margins due to heavy discounting. The likes of Andy Street of John Lewis and Lord Wolfson of Next, both leading figures in UK retail, have spoken out against a repeat in 2015. Yet with Black Friday now burned into the consciousness of UK consumers and with every likelihood that we will see a Europe-wide sales frenzy this year, what can eBusiness professionals do to prepare?

Our latest report, written in conjunction with Michelle Beeson, delves deeper into the topic, analyzing what went right for some and wrong for many. It unpicks some of the key lessons learned for eBusiness professionals facing the tough choice of whether to run a Black Friday sale this year, or hold fast and preserve margins.