For anyone who hasn’t noticed, it was Black Friday last week. That means (assuming you’ve accepted all those ‘join our mailing list’ requests) your inbox was flooded with flash sales, two-for-one buys, and deals on products that you’ve never needed, but are now seriously considering.
We know you’ve probably still got some online shopping to do, but wanted to take just a moment to acknowledge a major business lesson we can take from this retail phenomenon.
Ten years ago, Black Friday wasn’t a British thing. It’d been around in the US for decades – a traditional frenzied sale weekend that followed Thanksgiving – but it wasn’t even on the UK’s radar. Enter Amazon.
The rise of Black Friday
In 2010, Amazon took the plunge and launched a range of Black Friday sales. The company was mocked for the next two years as it continued to try to import the big sales day from America, and people said it wasn’t going to stick.
Amazon was criticised heavily in 2012 when its website kept freezing as people tried to buy Take That’s Progress and Susan Boyle’s The Gift CDs for £1. That might have been a bad headline, but it underlined the point that Black Friday deals were popular.
The next year Asda came to the party, causing chaos as its shoppers competed for limited sale stock. And, as they say, the rest is history. The event is now a mainstay on the UK retail calendar.
So, what are the lessons?
Tradition doesn’t have to rule. Persistence is key. And trusting business instinct can pay off massively.
Amazon recognised the potential for Black Friday in the UK, knowing that a consumer’s love for a bargain would trump the lack of understanding around what exactly Black Friday was or where it had come from.
While Amazon’s sales increase over the period in that first year doesn’t compare to the crazy numbers we see today, it was a starting point from which to build. The company was playing a long game, creating momentum to create a Black Friday buzz that would spread over time.
The move shows just how well persistence – not to mention, conviction – can pay off. If you expect to reach your goal overnight, you’ll generally end up disappointed, but committing to smaller steps as part of your plan to reach an ultimate aim is a surer way to earn success.
Self-belief also plays a big part. Had Amazon accepted the headlines, believed that the status quo was not something that could be changed and abandoned the concept when it didn’t take off instantly, the third Friday in November would be the same as every other for British consumers.
Tried-and-true methods can be great, but it’s always worth keeping an eye out for how things could be improved.
Whether it’s the product you sell, the service you provide or how you market them, knowing that there’s a different way to do things and looking at what that might be is the best way to stay ahead of the game.