Black Friday: The Pain, the Gain, and the Dark Sides
The term Black Friday has become a phenomenon known by shoppers around the world. Also known as “Clearance sales” or “Singles Day” in china, it’s a particular time of the year when sellers bring down the prices of their products and open up to all customers to buy at the discounted rate just for a short period of time.
Apart from Online retail shops recording a substantial flow in visits and page views as millions of people logged into their websites, the period is also known to have surge in numbers of sales and footfalls in brick and mortar shops.
According to Techcrunch, during the 2019 Singles Day, Chinese retail giant, Alibaba hits $1 billion in sales in just one minute of Sales. The company said total sales for the Global Shopping Festival reached 268.4 billion RMB, which translates to roughly $38.4 billion. This is a significant growth compared to the $30.8 billion the company generated in 2018.
In Nigeria, the story isn’t different as shopping stores like Jumia, Konga and other retail shops offer for sales products at discounted rates for customers. Some offers are as low as 99% discount on selected products for lucky customer which they term the “Treasure Hunt”. The current eCommerce spending in Nigeria is estimated at $12 billion and is projected to reach $75 billion in revenues per annum by 2025.
Who is the winner?
It may sound unrealistic for a business to make gains while offering 50% or more discounts on products, be that as it may, most of those products could actually be over-priced at first while using the slash sales on Black Friday to lure more customers. In another twist, the clearance sale is a time for business to let go of old items they have in stock which are or may probably lose relevance if not sold early.
According to Olugbenga Ade, a merchant in one of Nigeria’s online shop, Black Friday remains the biggest time for him to make sales though the profit on each item isn’t as much as that of a normal day. “I have a store on Konga and I sell phones during Black Friday, I slash the prices of my items to the bearest minimum, though I still make little gain on each product compared to a normal day sales but with more orders, I enjoy the profit more” he said.
Another shop owner, Mrs. Ibunkun said clearance sales period is the biggest time of the year for her business. “I deal with clothing and accessories and during the festive season, women will like to get more items. Lowering the prices of my products helps my business to get more customers and sometimes in a single day, I can make enough money compared to a monthly sales on a normal day.”
The Black Friday May Still Be Dark
Even with the seemingly ridiculous slash in prices, sellers still hit goldmines during back Friday. Obadina Abraham works in the computer village and once had a store on one of the leading Nigeria online stores. According to him, Merchants make a lot of gains during the Black Friday sales though people would think they are just putting out products without profit. “The prices are very high before the Black Friday and during the Black Friday, they just reduce the prices a bit but still making enough gains.
“When we talk about Friday, I don’t know how it has affected buyers positively because merchants are the one giving their prices, when something is sold at N10, 000, we can give it N20,000 on a normal day so when there is Black Friday we can just deduct 2k, we are making much profit from it. Because buyers do not know the actual price in the market and to them (buyers), they think (sellers) are doing them favour but they are not”.
He added that people outside Lagos mostly think they are really enjoying the slash prices because they don’t have somewhere like computer village where they can actually verify the prices and they feel glad when they see a small reduction on prices of items during Black Friday. “It’s only merchants that know the logic, buyers don’t know the logic of Black Friday” he said. He added that ordering and importing items from other countries is cheaper to that of Nigeria.
Beyond the general promotions and awareness thrown at customers’ faces during the Black Friday sales; many activities are going on under.
Mr. Ishaka Abduraman sells Wrist Watch on Jumia and he admitted that though merchants could make gains during the time but may not be able to meet up the expectations of the customers due to shortage in manpower. “Some merchants during this period are overwhelmed with orders and so flounder in fulfilling some of those orders. This always results in sending wrong items to some customers or leaving some out altogether.”
On delivery, he said the online retail stores in Nigeria still lag behind in terms of delivery services. “Most delivery service performance is poor even when it’s not Black Friday, so during Black Friday its worst. The best way is to have your own delivery person in the major cities like Lagos, PH, Abuja and some other places that you get a good deal of orders from, then leave those places with less order traffic to courier service.”
Making sales during Black Friday may not result to profit except the seller put some calculative measures in place. This was the submission of Mr. Abdurasheed on the profit aspect. “Most people are not making good profit during Black Friday except the wise one. You have to calculate your profit and some estimated expenses and if you are using a courier service that the shipping charge is billed whether it’s delivered or not, then you must plan very well.”
Some consumers despite the high and heavy promotions during Black Friday still feel indifferent to the slashed prices. Miss Roseline Oyewole said she doesn’t feel sellers are selling quality items during Black Friday due to the high slash in prices. “ I don’t think they are selling quality items, a higher percentage of them sells inferior goods. I am not just interested in them. Sometimes I get enticed by the slash in prices but I end up not buying eventually”
Joel Ebisike is someone who said he doesn’t fancy Black Friday and the euphoria doesn’t move him. “I don’t shop on Black Friday. I don’t even like it been called Black Friday because in the olden days, Black Friday is used to celebrate thanksgiving in the US and in this light Black slaves are been brought to the market to be sold for a cut fee until the so-called slave trade was abolished. In this light as well, those that are still buying stuff during Black Friday are actually celebrating the slave masters. To me, I think the word “black” should be abolished or changed.”He, however, said those who need affordable things can use the privilege but he will never join it.
On his own part, Ibrahim Olukunle is an online shopper who prefers international stores to Nigeria’s. He said the significance of Black Friday or any other promotional sales is to gain more attention to products, in that sense a brand will make more sales without losing much profit. He, however, said online stores in Nigeria are not too efficient compared to their international counterpart. In his words, “To me in terms of efficiency, I would rather opt for international stores. I have been enjoying these but the only demerit is the delivery time is longer compared to Nigeria”, he said.
Despite the diverse perception of Black Friday, consumers still find the period a good time to get things at cheaper prices. Ajayi Tosin said she hardly buy things online because she doesn’t see the difference in prices in both online and brick & mortar stores, so she rather waits till Black Friday. “Whenever I check Jumia, I do see many products with high prices but during Black Friday they bring the prices down and I have bought a fan once tagged 12,000 at the rate of 8,000 during Black Friday. I like Black Friday sales”, she enthuses.
Gain to Customers, Pain to Workers
Though customers may be very excited buying things at discounted rates during Black Fridays, the lump of the pain falls on the staff especially the dispatch riders and the sales agents. Making sales is good but majority of the staff are subjected to harsh treatment and work overload during the Black Friday sales because of huge number of orders. The people who are attending to 100 customers on a normal day could be subjected to attending to thousands of customers without pay rise. During Black Friday sales, sellers could get up to 10x orders above normal day with the same manpower.
Mr. Stanley Irabor is a delivery man who knows the intricacies of Black Friday and the challenges they face as dispatch riders. He said delivery during Black can be 5x more than the normal day because of the number of orders recorded. As this is a gain to the merchant or sellers, the staff and dispatch riders are the real workers during the period. “During Black Friday I work extra time even without pay unless I come on Saturday which is not part of my job description and the money is very small”. He added that customers also make delivery difficult for them because some of them delay in getting their orders while some are just playing around orders and not serious.