Black Friday

Green is the new Black

How tech retailers can put some green into Black Friday

It’s only around five years since UK retailers first hosted Black Friday sales in this country, but already the event has found a place for itself as one of those early signs of the modern Christmas – up there with the John Lewis advert and the X Factor finals. There’s no getting away from the fact that this US shopping holiday has struck a real chord with the British public. Last year, consumers spent around £10 billion over Black Friday and retailers are eager for more of the same in 2018. Given the increasingly challenging state of the British retail sector, the shot of sales adrenaline Black Friday delivers should be welcomed by all.

Buy in haste, repent at leisure

However, the sales bonanza around Black Friday isn’t without its unintended consequences. This is particularly the case when it comes to returns. The structure of Black Friday – exceptional price reductions provided in a limited window of opportunity – encourages people to buy in haste.

As a result, Black Friday is linked to a huge spike in returns as people find they are dissatisfied with their purchases, or that their purchases are somehow faulty. Back in 2015, the cost of such returns to UK retailers was put at £180 million; and it’s likely this figure is exponentially higher today, as the sales holiday is exponentially more popular. Indeed, looking at the period between Black Friday and Boxing Day last year, some £2.5 billion worth of goods were retuned to online retailers alone.

Getting a return on returns

This is, of course, a big headache for retailers and it eats into their profits during this important shopping peak period. However, when it comes to consumer technology products such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and TVs the issue of returns is even more problematic. This is because such items are not as easy to recondition and get back into stock, particularly if they are faulty. This means retailers can find themselves stuck with goods they are unable to reintroduce into their stock. Not only does this mean there’s value going to waste, but it’s also a sustainability issue.

Given how increasingly important ‘green’ issues like sustainability are to consumers (73 percent of Millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable goods) Black Friday returns is an issue that many tech retailers will want to address. A more ethical way of recovering value from returned consumer tech products is a win/win for the environment and for the retailer as they can mitigate some of the losses caused by high volumes of returns.

Greening Black Friday

If Black Friday is to deliver optimum value for customers in a sustainable way, retailers must look at how they can improve their stock returns processes. Key to this is finding new solutions for the recovery and redistribution of consumer technology goods; introducing processes that breathe new life into unwanted technology products so that as little as possible goes to waste.

At GSUK, we’ve worked with a large number of retailers to find solutions for the recovery and redistribution of consumer technology goods. Rather than ending up as landfill, we work to recondition accessories and devices so they are as good as new. We then find new users for these products so that their life-cycle is extended in an ethical and sustainable way.

The environmental benefit of this approach is considerable. Take smartphones as just one example: of the 17 rare Earth metals in existence, 16 are included in smartphones. Not only are these metals difficult and expensive to extract, when they run out there are currently no viable alternatives to them. It’s therefore a ‘no-brainer’ that we should do everything in our power to re-use these components, and that includes ensuring that no returned items – during Black Friday or any other day for that matter – find themselves on a rubbish heap.

Sustainability, ethics and profit!

Black Friday is likely going nowhere. And alongside the Cyber Monday, Christmas and Boxing Day sales peaks is fast becoming critical to the profitability of retailers. The key now is to work towards a more sustainable approach to such sales events, and this means focusing squarely on the recovery and resales of returned consumer tech goods. Doing so will be better for the environment and better for the bottom line.


Written by Paul Crossman, Director of Business Development – GSUK. paul@gsuk.eu