Black Friday for an E-commerce Company

As a company that handles data from multiple e-commerce companies, Black Friday has a massive effect on the systems of Ve. But where did Black Friday come from?
By Ana Campo Perez Posted 11 December 2015

Black Friday for an E-commerce Company

Black Friday for an E-commerce Company

Black Friday is one of the most important shopping days in the United States, and has been exported to many other countries around the world. It is held on the fourth Friday of November so it can fall anywhere between the 23rd and 29th. Although it is not an official holiday, many employees take the day off in order to do their Christmas shopping.

Black Friday is a huge consumer event, and there are many sales both in store and online that span not only the day itself, but the whole weekend. The effects of this on the systems behind the scenes at Ve Interactive is immense. Our systems take around a 200% increase in load which can only reliably be handled by an elastic datacenter and our crack team of database engineers.

But where did this event come from? How did the day of Black Friday come to be, and how has it grown into this massive global event where hordes of zombie consumers assault stores looking for bargains? Have there been any interesting side effects?

1924

Macy’s celebrated its first Thanksgiving Parade. Up to 250,000 people attended. This was the start of a tradition that kicks off the Christmas shopping season in the United States.

1950

Managers started calling the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday, because many workers appeared to be sick.

1966

In Philadelphia, the annual Army-Navy football game was played the weekend after Thanksgiving. This added to lots of people going out for shopping resulted in lots of cars and lots of traffic. So the Police Department started to call this day “Black Friday”, because it was a very bad day for them.

2005

It is the year for the first “Cyber Monday”. Cyber Monday is celebrated the Monday after Black Friday, and it is aimed to encourage online shopping.

2008

The first recorded Black-Friday related death happened. The victim was a Wal-Mart worker. He was flattened by a crowd anxious about buying big-screen TVs at $400 and DVDs at 2$. As a result, the site blackfridaydeathcount.com was created. Its creator said that the site was not intended to send a strong political message, just wanted to be provocative.

2010

The American Express Corporation launched the Small Business Saturday. This day tried to encourage people to buy in local shops around their area and nowadays, it is the most successful day that tries to promote local shopping.

2011

Wal-Mart was the first retailer to start the Black Friday in the ThanksGiving night. Also during this year, the Patagonia brand launched an Anti-Black Friday campaign in the New York Times and online.

2013

Patagonia again launched an anti-consumerism campaign that was called “Worn wear”. It was aimed to celebrate the stuff people already owned. They also created a short film for the Campaign that was called “Worn Wear: A Short film about the stories we wear”. In this year, a false story that linked the Black Friday with slavery circulated around Internet.

2014

Cards Against Humanity, which is a company that sells a funny social game, decided to take offline all their products on Black Friday. All except for one, they sold a box with a real cow shit inside at $6. They clearly said that there was nothing but the shit inside the box, and they surprisingly got to sell 30,000 boxes. Thought Catalog also published an article: “9 facts about retail workers you should know before you shop on Black Friday”, which was shared by more than 229,000 people on their social networks.

2015

Finally, this year - retailer REI has decided to close all their 143 stores on Black Friday. And they also encourage people to share what they are doing (obviously no shopping) in their social networks with the hashtag #OptOutside.

Black Friday in Spain

Now we come back to Spain. Black Friday started to be celebrated here three years ago, in an attempt to inspire the consumption in recession years. Retailers also wanted to recover the magnet effect that had been lost with sales liberalization. At the beginning, few retailers offered discounts. Now, these days appear to be the new SALES and usually the discounts last up to a whole week (this year, for example, from November 23rd to Cyber Monday).

Sneaky Retailers

Not everything is clear and simple on Black Friday. Retailers have a number of tricks they play to make people believe that there are amazing bargains, while not being truly honest.

Mutant Prices

Mutant prices are where retailers publish their special offers comparing them with a former price. However this former price can be an out of date price, for example, an $800 TV was reduced to $500 last month. On Black Friday, it can be advertised as was $800, now $400! Leading you to believe that you are saving $400.

Incompatible Offers

This happens when the same retailer has different offers for the same product. For example, we want to buy some books and they offer 2-4-1 or the special Black Friday discount. We have to think carefully about which offer is actually better value and be specific which offer we want when at the checkout.

Shill-Bidding Offer

Shill-biding offers apply only to one product and for a limited number of items. This effectively means a retailer can advertise this deal nationally to attract attention with a huge discount, but on the day each store only stocks 5 of the item. These are quickly sold out and you are unable to buy the item and instead have to select a less generous offer.

Discount Vouchers

Retailers can also offer discount vouchers instead of direct discounts. These vouchers can only be used with the same retailer and after a waiting period, so you have to think carefully whether you are going to be returning to same shop in future.

Charges, International shipping and Fraud

There are many other hidden costs when shopping online. There can be extra charges when buying online, including delivery costs and card payments. On top of this, foreign purchases can be dangerous as you can end up paying additional customs charges; 20% VAT in the UK, and in Spain 21-23.5% on items over 22 Euros.

Finally, keep an eye out for fraud – explore and compare, rather than buying the first deal, and always check the security certificates on websites. The internet is a powerful tool for comparing the price of goods from different retailers but this comes with a degree of risk.

Avoid the Chaos

So if you want to avoid the chaos of fighting over flat screen TV’s, try shopping from the comfort of your sofa. Let Ve Interactive help you keep track of your basket, share your best buys and follow the best deals without standing in the cold at 3am with a thermos.

Ana Campo Perez
Ana Campo Perez
Software Engineer