It’s safe to say that this year has been unlike any other. Physical storefronts have continued to feel the effects of a global pandemic, with bricks and mortar retail facing unpredictable disruptions and constant uncertainties around both its short and long-term future.
With a second lockdown now taking place in the UK and other European countries in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus during the holiday season, all eyes will be on eCommerce merchants for Black Friday 2020. In this blog, we will look at the rise of Black Friday and offer some ideas for what may be your first Black Friday campaign.
HOW DID BLACK FRIDAY START?
In the 1980s, Black Friday became a key day for shopping in the US. Taking place on the day after Thanksgiving, it was seen as a great opportunity for retailers to compete with one another by offering the best deals to customers in the hopes of a profitable end to the year.
However, the term actually goes back as far as 1869 and was first associated with a financial crisis. On Friday 24 September 1869, two Wall Street financiers, known as Jim Fisk and Jay Gould, attempted to corner the gold market in the hopes of later selling at a huge profit. Unfortunately, this caused the US gold market to crash and Jim and Jay’s actions spelt disaster for investors.
HOW HAS BLACK FRIDAY CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?
A growing global influence, a rapid evolution in technology and increasing concerns around health and safety have painted a very different picture for Black Friday in recent years.
In 2014, the Black Friday trend started to catch on in Europe and the number of countries adopting the event has continued to expand ever since. As of 2019, it has been estimated that more than 100 countries around the world have embraced the Black Friday concept.
Traditionally, Black Friday was a single day worth of rare deals and discounts. However, recent years have seen this expand across several days or even weeks, with many retailers keen to entice customers with what are often referred to as “early Black Friday deals”. In fact, this shopping event has become less of a “Black Friday” and more of a “Black November”.
HEALTHY AND SAFETY
With customers desperate to take advantage of the huge discounts on all kinds of products, one key ongoing concern around physical stores has been customer safety. Over the years, many viral videos have surfaced online, featuring hordes of customers seen falling over one another or even fighting over products in some cases.
THE RISE OF SMART DEVICES
The introduction and ongoing rise in popularity for smartphones, tablets and more recently smart speakers, have presented a much safer means of shopping. The growth of eCommerce sales via mobile has shown no signs of stopping, with a report by Bloomreach revealing that 71% of UK consumers did their Black Friday shopping from a mobile device in 2019.
HOW ARE BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING HABITS EXPECTED TO CHANGE IN 2020?
Earlier this year, we saw initial lockdowns around the world that lasted for several months. This meant that outside of the essentials, millions of consumers turned to online stores to continue purchasing goods and services.
This move to online shopping saw many traditional in-store shoppers making online purchases for the very first time and discovering the many benefits that eCommerce provides. So much so that 44% of UK consumers are expected to permanently change their shopping behaviours post-pandemic.
Despite the lifting of restrictions in July for the UK, a reluctance to return back to physical retail stores was apparent. According to the British Retail Consortium, retail sales in August remained lower than they were before the start of the pandemic, with clothing, footwear and beauty sectors struggling in particular.
Fast forward to November and a second lockdown is currently taking place in the UK and many other European countries, such as France and Germany. This means that one of the most profitable and busiest times of the year for retailers will now rest on the shoulders of eCommerce.
This year, Black Friday begins on 27th November and research suggests that consumers in the UK will spend an estimated £6 billion on this day alone, an increase of £400 million from last year.
For many consumers, this will be the first time they have ever taken part in Black Friday through purely online means. First impressions are everything, and what better way for you to win over all of these new potential customers than with a positive Black Friday experience.
HOW CAN ECOMMERCE MERCHANTS PREPARE FOR BLACK FRIDAY?
CONSIDER FREE SHIPPING
Your customers are sure to feel extremely happy and excited if they able to snag a Black Friday offer from you. However, that happiness may start to fade when they realise that the price has gone up due to shipping fees. To avoid customer frustrations and to maintain a competitive edge during Black Friday you should consider offering free shipping for their ordered items if possible.
Combining a selection of your products together in a special bundle for Black Friday can be a really effective way of enticing potential customers and driving up your sales. By providing a reduced price for items when bought together you can present additional value to your customers whilst helping to clear out some of your underperforming inventory.
PRESENT A SENSE OF URGENCY
While eCommerce helps your customers avoid the sea of people they would otherwise be wading through, this can also mean that the sense of urgency for them to claim Black Friday deals may not be as immediate. However, there are plenty of other ways in which you can achieve this, including:
- Promoting low stock levels on your product pages
- Letting your customers know which of your deals are proving to be most popular
- Featuring timers that countdown the remaining time before your offers expire
- Adding “sold out” banners to product images once items have run out of stock
FEATURE YOUR BIGGEST DISCOUNTS ON THE HOMEPAGE
Your Black Friday offer shouldn’t be tucked away in the dark corners of your website. The very first thing your visitors should see are your best and biggest discounts. Presenting a dedicated banner that clearly outlines what the products are and how much your customers could be saving will ensure your offers receive maximum exposure.