Black Friday begets Out of Stock Saturday?

Of the £1bn in sales that is predicted to be made on Black Friday, around £160 million of goods are likely to be returned for different reasons. The Scotland based returned items analysts Clear Returns have published a report called Playing for Keeps that predicts that Saturday 12th December will the busiest day for returns, and has dubbed it ‘Out of Stock Saturday’.

CEO and founder of Clear Returns, Vicky Brock suggests, “Our data suggests the true cost of acquiring customers during such promotions is likely to be very high; at peak trading periods anything between 15-50% of promotional items might be returned at a time when staff will be stretched to fulfil other more profitable orders in the run up to Christmas.”

One particular group of people that the report identifies is a relatively small group of buyers who return a disproportionate amount of goods. 5% of the customers will be what the report dubs ‘over buyers’ who buy too much and then many of the goods they originally bought. The ‘over buyers’ account for as much as 40% of the items in the returns loop.

Brock says of this group of people, “However, under the current sales-based value model, you may be marketing to them more often, and incentivising them more than other groups, because of the fact they make purchases so frequently.”

The report also suggests that 80% of first time shoppers who return goods from a particular brand will not buy from that brand again. This reinforces data on customer loyalty around Black Friday that suggests that consumers do not forgive mistakes from e-tailers.

There is some good news though – there is a grouping of highly loyal customers who the brand should work on, as they will remain using a brand through thick and thin. Where the over buyers overwhelm the returns network, the loyal shoppers tend to keep their goods and returning to you. These customers, that Amazon captures through Prime membership for example, are core to a business’s success.