The end of 2020 and it’s been one hell of a year. The pandemic has propelled businesses into the digital arena (whether they liked it or not) and forced technical innovation to cut through the crowded, digital noise of eCommerce. As lovers of all things digital, we discuss what impact will this year have on Black Friday sales?

It’s an understatement to claim this year has been a rollercoaster of unprecedented spending. April to May saw an immediate (and frantic) spike in online retail sales. It was actually 7% higher than what eCommerce retailers usually see over the holiday season (November-December).  This has been succeeded by a rise in Australia’s unemployment rate and conservative spending behaviours from consumers. 

It therefore begs the question – will customers have an appetite for Black Friday this year? Not only that, but will people have the means? 

We’ve investigated and pulled out a few key trends to expect this Black Friday: 

Good vibes with a hint of realism 

Word on the street is positive. An estimated 42% of brands expect improved performance during the 2020 sales in comparison to previous years. Despite the high hopes, inventory and marketing strategies have remained consistent with 2019 planning. This sentiment is backed by a cautious approach to sales post-Black Friday and Christmas when the real financial impact of the pandemic is felt.  

Jingle bells ringing early for shoppers this year 

We love a bargain. It’s ingrained deep in our human psychology. The Black Friday demand will (as usual) stem from the bargain hunters. However, concerns of personal safety, delivery and product availability will see the classic November sales leveraged by holiday shoppers. Salesforce predicts that brands will push 10% of Christmas promotions into the Black Friday sales to cater for customer demand. Despite Westfield’s attempt at playing Christmas music in September, we now know it takes a pandemic to force customers to buy early for Christmas. 

Delivery delays 

With the world closing up shop, traditional transportation methods are limited and delivery times are pretty sad right now. You can expect product delivery to be delayed – particularly express delivery options. DHL expects 700 million gifts are at risk of not arriving prior to Christmas over the Black Friday sale period. 

Get on the Click and Collect train

What’s not to love about click and collect? Consumers are offered greater convenience and prompter fulfilment plus the added brand transparency.  Pre-pandemic only 2% of merchants were using Shopify’s click and collect feature (even we admit, it’s a surprisingly low percentage). As of May, this number has risen to 26% and continues to rise given the demand for greater non-contact convenience. 

Click and collect provides a healthy balance between the online and in-store. The horn’s ringing, so get on this train before it leaves the station.  

Non-essentials will continue to excel

Black Friday is typically associated with non-essentials – we’re talking fashion and electrical goods. Yet the spikes in online retail this year have been in necessary goods and services such as groceries or activity based goods such as health and cooking (no surprises there). This Black Friday presents an opportunity for retailers in this space to further capitalise on our inability to return to normality. 

Aussie Aussie Aussie!

The pandemic has brought about a greater sense of local community and solidarity. Go local right? This sentiment may be reflected in online sales of authentic, good quality Australian products as opposed to international purchases. So ensure you wear that local badge loud and proud online!  

 

Preparing for Black Friday 

Search please 

People navigate a website in one of three ways – via the main menu; search bar; or by filtering through page content. Many Black Friday sale users know exactly what they’re coming for and rely heavily on the search bar. If there’s any time to beef up your search capabilities now’s the time to do it. Here’s a few simple words of wisdom: 

  1. Keep your search clear on mobile – large icon and expanded search bar with plenty of room for entry. 
  2. Set up autocomplete to predict your users entry based on your product range. 
  3. Use filters such as product categories, brands, colours. 
  4. Set up a quick view feature of product imagery 
  5. Fix up that no results’ page and ensure you’re directing users back to a product listing.

Wishlist 

We sound like a broken record, but we’ll say it again. Get your basics in order – wishlist functionality is now a non-negotiable for eCommerce. Don’t underestimate customers during Black Friday sales. They will hunt prior to the sale, save items aspirationally and return ready to spend. A friendly nudge will get customers returning, so optimise your abandoned wishlist emails now in preparation. Oh and don’t forget, wishlists give you direct insight into predicted purchases and facilitate educated inventory management. Take the guesswork out of things (sort of). 

Be Genuine

Sure things are a bit unusual right now and it’s difficult to predict what’s to come. Don’t hide this uncertainty. Be authentic and upfront with your customers by communicating those soon delivery delays or setbacks on customer service turnaround time. Set this expectation through the pre, during and post purchase journey to avoid unwanted surprises later on. Our community understands the strain this pandemic has caused on business and will respond well if they’re communicated in a genuine, human way

All in all, we’re optimistic for good things to come to online retailers this Black Friday.