Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the age of Covid-19 – coping with the digital challenges

November 15, 2020 | By RetailME Bureau

Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020 are almost upon us and their role in the success of the region’s retail industry cannot be understated. According to projections from Visa Middle East, by 2021, worldwide e-commerce sales’ share of total revenues will have doubled, from 8.6% in 2016 to 17.5%. Of course, Visa’s whitepaper was released in June last year when few had ever heard of Covid-19. It is not unreasonable to suggest that isolated, bargain-hungry consumers propelled by economic uncertainty may prove even more enthusiastic this year.

Study shows 49% UAE consumers shift to online shopping

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has shown the fastest growth for e-commerce compared with other regions around the world, with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the hub of the action. The same Visa Middle East report cites the UAE as the most advanced e-commerce market in the MENA region and projects sales in the UAE to grow by an average of 23% annually between 2018 and 2022 (again, remember this was pre-pandemic!).

Revealed: The UAE reports highest online spend per shopper

Retailers constitute sizable shares of regional GDPs, and their performance will be a barometer of economic recovery. As such, the industry will be heavily reliant on the success of the forthcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday bonanzas. While born in the West, both events have travelled well and found significant engagement in the Middle East. In a 2019 global survey, 45% of Saudis announced their intention to participate in Black Friday that year, spending an average of SAR 899 (US$ 240). In the past, UAE-based (now has offered Black Friday discounts as high as 70%. So, we can be assured that interest in the two shopping frenzies will be intense in

What the public wants
But in a fiercely competitive field, where e-shoppers can switch to a competitor with a single click, e-tail firms must ensure a digital experience that is slick, reliable, and engaging. In the US last year, more people shopped online than in stores on Black Friday. This year, we already see an online propensity governed by outside forces. So, the pressure on e-commerce platforms is all but guaranteed.

Across the region, many were caught off guard by pandemic-related demands on their technology tacks. Feasibility studies were quick-marched into production and projects slated to run for many months were accelerated to completion within weeks or days as evidenced by the recent AppDynamics The Agents of Transformation Report, where 86% of UAE technologists reported that digital transformation projects which would typically take more than a year to be approved, were signed off in a matter of weeks and 78% point to digital transformation projects that have been
implemented within weeks rather than the months or years it would have taken before the pandemic.

Online sellers quickly learned that the deluge would not pass and that application suites needed urgent attention. As global e-commerce began to grab a greater and greater share of total retail sales, business leaders had to face a new reality — their digital presence was now an integral part of their brand. And the applications that fed user experiences were no longer backroom tools, but vital operational components.

We can now see how an intense surge in consumer engagement can hurt your brand rather than build it, leading to an adverse effect on your bottom line. IT teams therefore need to be ready for event shoppers. If you lose a few impatient users due to high latency, social media outcries will do the rest. Black Friday shoppers take their deals seriously.

Strategy first
You need a plan; and yes, there is still time. Your IT team needs to be familiar with the baseline metrics used to measure the performance of your applications and websites. It is important to take a fresh look, as they may have changed from last year. It is useful if you can configure your environment to auto-scale itself to cope with surges in user engagement. Also take time to account for user behaviours. For example, casual browsers have a different impact on your resources than those searching for a specific product.

Real-time analytics that tracks revenue and alerts you to inventory locked up in shopping carts can also help you keep on top of the frantic pace of the weekend. Application-performance monitoring (APM) solutions are powerful tools for keeping an eye on the vital signs of your commerce platform and informing you in real time of issues such as heavier-than-expected traffic or drops in successful transactions.

Remember that link between technology performance and your brand. Remember to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. And remember that any degradation in performance could translate to a degradation in reputation. AppDynamic’s App Attention Index shows two thirds of consumers avoid brands known for substandard digital experiences. That means stakeholders must leave nothing to chance. A business’ technology platform is composed of several potential bottlenecks, from the presentation layer all the way down to the physical. Due care paid to each component will ensure a smooth ride for consumers.

Keep a watchful eye
Once the plan is in place and the right tools are on standby, all that remains is to make sure that you can react instantaneously in real time to any issues that arise. Proper monitoring can help with this, assuming your tools allow you full, rich visibility of your environment. While the wrong stance can be damaging to your brand, a good Black Friday and Cyber Monday performance gives you the opportunity to expand your customer base and build loyalty among existing customers. Get it right and watch the results.

David Noël is the regional vice president, Southern Europe, Middle East & Africa at AppDynamics

Previous Article Next Article



Spinneys has announced the launch of The Kitchen by Spinneys, its first-ever 

Continue Reading

May 20, 2024 | By RetailME Bureau

In a move set to redefine the landscape of the Fast Moving 

Continue Reading

May 16, 2024 | By RetailME Bureau
Sunil Kumar and Ali Saeed Juma Albwardy, Spinneys

One of UAE’s leading fresh food retailers, Spinneys has announced its intention 

Continue Reading

April 19, 2024 | By RetailME Bureau
Laura Manning, Managing Director & Founder, BRW Society

Launched in 2019 by Laura Manning, UAE-based homegrown brand BRW Society completes 

Continue Reading

April 5, 2024 | By Rupkatha B
Rajiv Warrier, Chief Executive Officer, Choithrams

Since the launch of its first store in the UAE five decades 

Continue Reading

March 20, 2024 | By RetailME Bureau
Dr. Dhananjay Datar Chairman & Managing Director ADIL Trading Co. LLC

Dr. Dhananjay Datar Chairman & Managing Director ADIL Trading Co. LLC holds 

Continue Reading

February 29, 2024 | By Rupkatha B
Hani Weiss, Chief Executive Officer, Majid Al Futtaim Retail

In 1995 regional retail conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim introduced Carrefour to the 

Continue Reading

February 26, 2024 | By RetailME Bureau
Prashant Parameswaran, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Tata Consumer Soulfull

Tata Soulfull, a leading name in the ‘good-for-you’ snacks and breakfast cereals 

Continue Reading

February 22, 2024 | By Rupkatha B
Jean-Luc Graziato, Chief Commercial Officer of Majid Al Futtaim – Retail and Alia Al Harmoodi, Acting CEO of the Environment, Health and Safety Agency

Majid Al Futtaim – Retail, which holds the exclusive franchise to operate 

Continue Reading

February 20, 2024 | By RetailME Bureau
Krishna Dhanak, Managing Director, Alpen Capital

In an exclusive interview Krishna Dhanak, Managing Director, Alpen Capital shared insights 

Continue Reading

February 19, 2024 | By Rupkatha B
Majed M. Al-Tahan, Co-founder & Managing Director, Danube Online

As digital transformation across the retail industry continues to accelerate, the expectations 

Continue Reading

December 19, 2023 | By RetailME Bureau
Frederic Levy-Perrault, CEO, Al Raya Supermarket

Saudi Arabia-based grocery retail chain Al Raya Supermarket serves over 100,000 customers 

Continue Reading

December 15, 2023 | By RetailME Bureau

Download Images RetailME Magazine