4 Lessons Learned from Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Dan Haggerty Dan Haggerty
minute read
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Omnichannel experiences loomed large during the Thanksgiving shopping weekend.

Holiday shopping is officially underway. Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday sales all grew year-over-year. And though the week of deals just wrapped up, there are already some key lessons emerging.

Lesson One: Shoppers are Seeking Omnichannel Initiatives

While the period was a boon for all retailers in general, the real winners were those with omnichannel strategies. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), omnichannel retailers were overwhelmingly preferred by shoppers and captured 88% of spending on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. This trend is likely to carry on as 80% of shoppers said they planned to purchase from omnichannel brands on Cyber Monday. If they haven’t already, it is now time for retailers to offer omnichannel options to consumers. Omnichannel initiatives should flow seamlessly from digital to physical and back again to give consumers an easy shopping experience that allows them to purchase items in the manner that is best for them.

Lesson Two: E-Commerce Growth Shows No Signs of Slowing

Brick-and-mortar still leads the charge in retail, but online sales grew to new holiday highs. According to Adobe Analytics, e-commerce accounted for $3.7 billion in sales on Thanksgiving Day (27.9% year-over-year growth) and $6.22 billion on Black Friday (23.6% year-over-year growth). Again, there was a strong omnichannel component to these online sales as 27% of shoppers used click-and-collect during Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and 64% of these shoppers made additional purchases while picking up their items in store. Even with impressive growth in e-commerce, brands still need to do more to combat shopping cart abandonment. 75% of shoppers abandoned their carts on Black Friday last year, so retailers need to prioritize quality to get shoppers to complete purchases.

Lesson Three: Ease-of-Use is Lacking for Mobile Purchases

More than $1 billion in retail purchases were completed on smartphones during Thanksgiving. In total, smartphones drove more than 54% of traffic to retail sites during the holiday and 36.7% of all e-commerce sales were completed on mobile. However, there’s still work to be done when it comes to mobile experiences. According to a recent Forrester study, 51% of people surveyed don't use a mobile phone to shop because they find the desktop experience easier. Retailers should evaluate their mobile experiences, paying special attention to shopping cart and checkout processes, to ensure they are providing intuitive experiences that make it easy to purchase on mobile.

Lesson Four: Consumers Won’t Wait for Poor Experiences

Despite the overall success to start the holiday shopping season for retailers, not everyone took advantage. Poor e-commerce experiences continued to haunt some brands that were left unprepared for the uptick in site traffic, pushing would-be customers to competitors. The holiday shopping season is the worst time for web or app visitors to encounter a software bug. Retailers can get out ahead of these issues by testing all aspects of the retail experience, from content and ease of use to the ever-important load times.

What separates the winners from the losers is changing in retail. Lower prices and product selection are not enough anymore. The winning retailers are increasingly focused on the experiences they provide to shoppers, and they are sure to improve these experiences to meet consumers’ rising demands.

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