Black Friday 2018

Why Black Friday volumes exploded in 2018

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According to Google South Africa, Black Friday 2018 was a search success with the region topping the world’s charts for avid deal searching with 'Black Friday specials at Game 2018 'generating more than 150 000 search queries' mirroring the crushing wave of consumers flooding into stores on the day. But, now that the dust has settled, the question is, what changed, and why?

“Retailers, banks and payment providers pushed the envelope in 2018 and customers responded. "From a product and infrastructure perspective, it seems we all came together to provide the fastest service offering and our merchants got the results they wanted."

The popularity of last year's Black Friday put immense pressure on eCommerce infrastructure across the country and website after bank after online retailer went down. Consumers were frustrated, sales were hobbled and processing systems were too beleaguered to care. The South African consumer had finally woken up to the possibilities of eCommerce but the systems and retailers were caught by surprise. Retailers did not want a repeat of the disaster in 2018.

“As Black Friday 2018 approached, merchants and payment providers paid attention and they put systems in place, working closely with their internal systems and with banks and payment providers to bridge any potential gaps,” adds Nadasen.

The huge increase in sales and participation for Black Friday 2017 saw PayU work closely with partners, banks, regulators, competitors and merchants to ensure robust eCommerce processing for 2018.

“On our side, we made further amendments to our own systems to ensure that we could keep up with demand and deliver what both the customer and the retailer expected,” says Nadasen. “PayU established deeper connections with banks, set up WhatsApp groups for merchants, increased support for merchants at the dedicated call centre and created clearly marked escalation paths for customers. We offered card tokenisation to merchants far ahead of Black Friday to guarantee improved approval dates on the day, offered a diverse payment suite and established smart routing capabilities to monitor and re-route transactions as well as alternative MPI switching for our merchants. These measures made a big difference to customer and retailer experiences, as the Black Friday rush kicked in.” As an illustration, statistics included:

  • On Black Friday PayU saw just over double the normal Successful Total Processed Transactions (STPT) in their busy hour compared to a normal day peak
  • The day, however, started at over 500% the normal STPT compared to a normal day at midnight
  • The Saturday morning midnight slot PayU were still running at 700% the normal STPT, indicating that shopping was going strong still and continued into the weekend 
  • Looking at Total Successful Processed Value/Volume (TPV) the first slot in the morning (12am to 1am) was the golden slot, even though the Total Processed Transactions were three to four times less than their busiest hours, which almost matched the highest TPV
  • The busiest minute of the day was at 7.10pm when PayU hit 1222 Transactions Per Minute
  • In that minute, the highest TPS was 42 Transactions Per Second

“While there will always be individual cases for retailers and merchants on the day, overall it was incredibly successful - the biggest on record for South Africa - with the hype hitting an all-time high long before the sales started,” she adds. “Retailers recognised the importance of staying up to increase sales volumes and customer retention. Those that delivered on this promise saw impressive conversion and approval rates, those that failed to pay attention to demand, lost out,” Nadasen concluded.

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