That dotBlackFriday feeling

By Stuart Fuller


In two week’s time the UK's economy will receive a one billion pound boost thanks to our new spending habits.  This year's Black Friday on 27th November, is set to be the biggest shopping day in this country's history with British shoppers expected to spend more than £1 billion in a single day.  Research published last week by credit agency Experian and IMRG, the e-retail industry association, predict this year's retail sales will soar from £810 million in 2014 to around £1.07 billion.

Last year a number of retailers simply weren't prepared for the demands both in terms of the people trying to grab a bargain in-store and those visiting their website.  Electronics giant Currys' saw the number of bargain hunters crash their website whilst GAME sold an astounding one PS4/Xbox One console PER SECOND. The massive growth in online shopping shows no signs of slowing down.  So how geared up are the major retailers this year?

It's no surprise to see already that search terms featuring the words "Black Friday" return tens of thousands of results.  With so much at stake in the digital battleground, why are so many retailers failing to grab an advantage by using a dotBlackfriday domain name.  Last year the awareness of the new gTLD programme was low, summed up by the complete lack of usage by retailers of the dotBlackFriday name space, although the TLD only went into General Availability in late September 2014.  A year later and the TLD has only added around 900 names with none of them appearing in the Alexa top 1 million websites based on traffic.

But with this year's big event just around the corner and many retailers already starting to promote their deals, it was with some hope that I went in search of big brands who were using a dotBlackfriday.  My first search revealed that the world's biggest online retailer, Amazon had not only registered their name some time ago but actually had a specific landing page in use already.  Alas they seem to be the exception rather than the rule.  Others such as Apple and Asda own the domain name but have not yet adopted the name for use.

Major UK brands such as John Lewis, Tesco, Sainsbury and Marks and Spencer's do not even own their respective dotBlackfriday.  In the case of John Lewis, last year's Black Friday event brought the company its biggest trading week on record, with sales up 22% on last year, yet in April of this year the domain name was registered for the first time by a Dutch resident.  It also appears that other major UK high street brands including House of Fraser, Top Shop and River Island do not have control of the domain name which carries significant advantages for those searching online for Black Friday bargains, whilst some including one of the biggest and most respected UK retailers is still available to register.

And herein lies the danger.  A relatively tech-savvy cyber-criminal could very quickly create a copy-cat website and with the branded domain name under their control in time for the 27th November, the potential for thousands of online shoppers to be duped is a threat that any brand holder should be worried about.  Not only is their profits at risk but also their reputation for the sake of a domain name registration that costs less than £50 per annum. With online searches for the term 'Black Friday' increasing every day it wouldn't be that hard for a rogue website to start gaining search ranking.  Come Friday 27th November a portion of the estimated £1 billion could be disappearing into the pockets of cyber criminals.

There is still time for brands to take advantage of the suffix for this year. With the predicted spend in the UK due to hit £16 for every person in the United Kingdom this year isn't it a small price to pay to gain even the smallest advantage on the most competitive online day in history?  And while we are at it, shall we have a conversation about dotChristmas?