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3 Lessons We Learned From Black Friday 2020

Retail stores were emptier than usual on Black Friday, as more than half the crowds who usually shop in person stayed home. This year has been the year of pivot for retailers as the pandemic reshaped consumer behaviors and the customer experience.

Altogether, we saw an unprecedented acceleration in e-commerce growth with the rise of safer store shopping options and increased comfort levels with online-meets-offline purchasing (BOPIS, curbside pickup). The challenges of this unique holiday shopping season have made omnichannel e-commerce a necessity.  

We know the world isn't going back to normal any time soon. More than ever, this 2020 holiday shopping season highlighted how critical it was for retailers to navigate the rising tides of e-commerce. Dedicating efforts to an omnichannel logistics strategy, which requires an integrated fulfillment and delivery experience across all channels, gives brands the flexibility to lean into e-commerce in a way that makes sense for their business.  

According to Salesforce, digital sales grew substantially. Total digital sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday reached $270 billion globally and $60 billion in the U.S. Overall, e-commerce revenue in the U.S. was up 36% globally and 29% year-over-year. The number of online customers increased by 22% compared to 2019.

So, you may ask yourself, what were the winning strategies for retailers during Black Friday?

Below we present three key trends we saw when working alongside our clients:

1. Being  Demand Driven

To succeed and thrive in this retail shift, our clients saw benefits from being more demand-driven.

To become more demand-driven, it was critical for our clients to invest in technology that makes online shopping easier for their consumers but also makes their business more profitable.

To help give consumers a seamless online experience, it is imperative to implement artificial intelligence within your site. AI offers one of the most significant ways for retailers to respond to this change in e-Commerce as it encompasses a whole range of algorithms supporting business processes - anything from optimizing web search and targeting advertisements to forecasting consumer demand.

Thanks to AI, our client, Planet Beauty, increased their overall e-commerce conversion rates from 3.51% in 2019 to 6.53% in 2020. Planet Beauty was able to capitalize on the holiday season by using AI to boost sales and improve customer experiences to scale both acquisition and retention efforts. You can use AI to predict what your customer will spend their money on with greater accuracy than ever. With this in mind, your business can succeed during the holiday season like never before.

Starting Promotions Early

For years, retailers have been rolling out deals earlier and earlier, and this year was no exception. With people shopping 24/7 and price promotions happening all the time, the magic of everything happening in one day is long gone. "Retailers of all sizes appear to have successfully moved shoppers to buy earlier in the season with early discounts and effective promotions," states Adobe.

As the Black Friday and Cyber Monday crowds hit our clients' e-commerce stores, it was imperative to have a special Black Friday header or landing page signage that cements SALE into the customers' minds. This was another winning strategy for our client, Planet Beauty, as they increased their revenue by 48.5%.

Black Friday has become more of a concept in the industry that promises customers deep discounts - minus the 24-hour time limit. Retailers have stretched out their Black Friday specials for nearly two months so that customers feel like they don't need to rush to the store. One way you can take advantage of this next year is to prime your website for handling Black Friday customers to turn seasonal buyers into frequent buyers.

Preparing Store For Mobile

Since most people shop on their phones, it is vital to ensure your site is mobile-friendly. You might be tired of being told that you need a mobile strategy, but with Google announcing that the switch to mobile-first indexing will be done in March 2021, this message has never been more important than during this holiday season.

We suggest you start small; invest in email marketing that automatically adjusts your emails to the customer's device, so all your Black Friday reminders are seen by the largest audience possible. Us designing Planet Beauty's email flows led to another win for them - an impressive 13.35% conversion rate. That is a remarkable example because the average conversion rate in the beauty industry is 2.9%, according to Smart Insights.                        

Our email flows are designed to make it easy to initiate and nurture relationships with your subscribers and customers throughout their life cycle. With flows, you can automate messages that will help grow your business without losing any personalization and relevancy needed to build strong customer loyalty. Optimize your mobile platform by investing in email flows so that your business is ready to thrive.

This Black Friday has been one for the record books as the pandemic has prompted consumers to crack open their laptops and virtual wallets, choosing safety and comfort over door-crasher deals and large crowds. Moving forward, you need to rethink every step of their customer journey to adapt to ever-changing consumer behavior. With that in mind, we encourage you to take the next step forward and partner with us to grow your brand and deliver a more personalized shopping experience.

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Founded in 2011, IM Digital is a full-service e-commerce agency for D2C, B2B, and retail brands ready to become a household name.

IM Digital helps bold brands become big with a combo of technology, strategy, and creativity.
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