Black Friday; Filling the Void or Trying to Avoid?

Skrevet av James Rice Mcaulay 23.09.20

Black Friday is one day in what is otherwise a busy period for retailers, starting with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and culminating in the run-up to the Christmas period, along with Christmas itself. In many markets, you’ve even got the January sales. For the purposes of this article though, we’ll mainly focus on Black Friday and touch upon the week leading up to it, also known as Black Week (you’ve even got Black Month, which is pretty much the whole of November. Are you getting a Blackout feeling now? Perhaps when Black Quarter arrives 🤪)

ashkan-forouzani-sUlR4Iul-9c-unsplash (1) It’s nearly that time of year again! As an online retailer, is this the day that fills you with dread, or the day that you’ve spent all year preparing for?

‘Tis the season to be folly?

Black Friday has become somewhat of a sensation; last year alone, consumers purchased goods worth a staggering $7,4 billion, surpassing all previous records. Even here in Norway, online shopping increased by 19% compared to the previous year. Predominantly originating in the United States, Black Friday is now observed officially and unofficially by many countries around the world, giving it an almost holiday-like status (well, it did start off as a holiday, falling the day after Thanksgiving). Is it a holiday though? Not necessarily for the retailers; it marks the start of the christmas period for many retailers, and can be seen as a much-needed kick-start to one of the busiest shopping periods of the year.

As an online retailer, you’ve no doubt seen and experienced first-hand the effect of the huge amount of online traffic that can be generated on this day. This includes websites that become slow (and means that the website may even have to implement a queue system), product recommendations & offers, pre-purchase support and even issues with returns after the purchase; there is a reason why it’s called Boxing Day in the UK, after all! Whilst it’s difficult to do much if the website gets absolutely saturated on the day, as buyers should be encouraged to visit the site (especially if they don’t live close to a store), let’s consider the implications of not having the right strategies in place to mitigate the effects of potentially losing customers to competitors. There are 3 important aspects to consider here; the customer journey (after you’ve paid a lot of money to bring the visitor to the site), those that have second thoughts and don’t purchase anything, and those who may need pre-purchase support.

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I feel like this site really knows me...

Customers are there for a reason, and one reason only; to buy (alright, they might be window shopping or comparing prices, without realising that they actually want to buy something. Make a note of these window shoppers 😉). This falls under intent, with the user visiting the site intending to complete a purchase. However, if we look at Black Friday as a whole, one thing stands out; offers and discounted goods. 70% off you say? Are these buyers necessarily looking to shop for their regularly purchased items, or are they specifically looking for a bargain? That will depend on what they are looking for and what they may also be interested in. The combination of these two aspects, and how a retailer can leverage this, are key to eCommerce success.

Given the nature of Black Friday and the traffic it attracts, does that necessarily mean that it’s difficult to capture and convert users based on what they would usually buy, versus the offers & promotions that the retailer is running for Black Friday? What about for other relevant products that they may be interested in, but that they may not necessarily be looking for or aware of? Well, by utilising a strategically timed onsite display, in the form of a pop-up, you can bring a wider range of products to the user, from within the same product category and from other categories. If you already know something about the user (first-party data, purchase history, cookies etc), or even which page(s) the visitor has browsed, then this is a particularly powerful combo, and tailored messaging can be initiated based on the data and/or the journey that the customer has taken. After all, if someone has come through the male jumper section, and has navigated their way to the jacket section, this could be a good indication of intent. With the right messaging, you can suggest jackets and jumpers that go well together, along with other items such as shoes and trousers. This can be powerful if it’s a seasonal purchase, and the items match a certain colour theme, such as dark green and brown, giving the user a feeling of personalisation.

SimilarWeb released their stats for Black Friday 2019 in the United States, which seems to point towards significant increases in most categories, which could very well indicate that this year will see even greater increases, especially given the current situation (which we won’t make light of, as I don’t think any of us saw it coming this time last year). Given that much of the traffic may very well be offer-hungry price hunters, composed of both regular and unique customers, a challenge and opportunity here lies in the preparation. Whether you decide to place all discounted items in widgets or banners on the front page, or whether you entice the visitor to begin a digital customer journey that allows you to gauge their level of interest in other product categories. Messaging can therefore be tailored for both sets of users, with onsite displays for i.e. other products on offer within the same category, and products that are a good match or are commonly purchased by others, based on the pathway to that product. This helps meet many KPIs, particularly regarding the sales of certain categories of products, and can help drive up the average order value by 15-20%, based on the results we’ve seen from similar adoptions.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article, which you'll find here 😁

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