Black Friday: The digital evolution

2020 has been a year of turbulence, with everyone and everything adapting to a new normal. Whether it’s been businesses embracing remote working, or families hosting Zoom quizzes, everybody has pivoted and Black Friday is set to be no different.

With reports of second waves of Coronavirus hitting the globe, it’s now an inevitability that the biggest shopping day of the year will have to evolve to become even more digital.

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday as a concept originated in the US as the start of the Christmas shopping season a day after Thanksgiving which occurs on the fourth Thursday of November. Thanksgiving is the last major holiday season in the United States before Christmas.

As a way of increasing sales, many retailers started offering discounts to increase the footfall coming into their stores during this busy period. Black Friday was born.

Whilst this practice started to occur during the 1950s, the slogan “Black Friday” didn’t actually become a recognizable term until the 1980s. During this time, Black Friday was still largely restricted to the US, but during the past 15 years, it has slowly become just as important across the rest of North America and Europe too.

Unsurprisingly, as the e-commerce industry grew rapidly during the early 2000s, online retailers got in on the act by introducing Cyber Monday, which occurs on the Monday after Black Friday. In recent years the two shopping days have become very much entwined and now the Black Friday events often encompass sales for up to a week in many stores.

Coronavirus accelerating change in consumer behaviour

This year’s Black Friday is set to be very different from previous years. The Coronavirus pandemic has forced organisations to change the way they operate and consumers to change the way they shop.

Traditional retail businesses in many countries were forced to close as lockdown measures have been enforced, and even since reopening, many customers are still reluctant to head back out to the shops. In fact, a recent survey carried out by Wells Fargo suggests that as much as 70% of shoppers are wary of returning to stores.

As a result of this upheaval, the e-commerce industry skyrocketed during the lockdown period with companies such as Amazon reporting 40% sales growth. Naturally, as lockdowns around the globe eased, e-commerce sales reduced to more normal levels – although still higher than pre-lockdown.

Rather than being a revolution, this has been more of an evolution that has simply accelerated the shift to e-commerce that was already happening. According to a report by IBM, this shift from physical stores to digital shopping has been accelerated by roughly 5 years.

What does this mean for Black Friday 2020?

Simply put, it means that Black Friday 2020 is going to be the biggest ever for online sales. Consumer habits have changed, with more people being comfortable doing their shopping from their living room, and fewer people being comfortable with venturing out into busy shopping centres.

How can my offline business capitalise?

If you have an offline retail store with no online presence, it’s time to move your business online. If you don’t have an online presence this year, your business is going to suffer. Moving online can be as simple as setting up on an e-commerce marketplace – e.g. Amazon or eBay – or committing to building your own website.

Building a website can sound scary and expensive, but with the help of freelance web designers and web developers, it doesn’t have to be stressful or break your bank balance.

How can my e-commerce business stand out amongst the noise?

If your business is already online, it’s time to start thinking about how you can heighten your brand awareness.

Listings optimisation

A great way of making a quick win can be by simply optimising what you already have. Go through your current product listings on your website or marketplace, and ensure they include keywords that your customers will be searching for. You can do this yourself, or if keyword research isn’t your bag, work with a specialist to optimise your listings for you.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Another area you can optimise is your SEO, which will make it easier for customers to find your website if done correctly. This can be as simple as editing website copy or more technical if you want to dive deeper. If you don’t know your SEO from your PPC, then the best option is to collaborate with an SEO expert that can conduct an audit of your website.

Pay-per-click (PPC)

If you haven’t already, it’s worth trialling PPC to get your deals out there to more customers. There are many different options; from search campaigns to drive buyers to your website, Amazon campaigns to drive customers to your marketplace shop, or Facebook advertising to boost your sales. Each has its own benefits, and it’s very much down to where your customers hang out to determine which will work best for you.

The key thing to remember when running a PPC campaign is to A/B/C test your campaigns each time, that way you can gather more knowledge and understanding of what works best. If you don’t have the time to manage all of your campaigns yourself, hire a freelance PPC specialist.

“Treat Black Friday as an investment and it will pay dividends”

We’ll leave you with a piece of advice from Martin Case – one of the top e-commerce experts on PeoplePerHour.

“For marketplace sellers; a good Black Friday can be the difference between a successful or disappointing Christmas period. Use Black Friday to springboard your products into action, creating huge sales velocity in a single day that will benefit you throughout the month of December. Treat Black Friday as an investment and it will pay dividends.

If margins are thin, still consider a discount event no matter how small. Something as simple as free delivery or buy two get 5% off can be enough to show that you are actively participating.”

Take advantage of our Black Friday Lottery by getting your campaigns off the ground now. You could win £50 credit PLUS a 20% off voucher.