Now that the holidays are behind us, it’s time to look back and see what the 2017 Black Friday season has taught us. We know what analysts predicted, but how did things really shake out?
Takeaway 1: Black Friday Has Morphed into “Black November”
It seems like every year ‘experts’ have predicted an apocalypse in the retail sector, but Black Friday numbers indicate that retailers are very much alive – they are just in a state of change. On Thanksgiving weekend in 2016, 174 million Americans went shopping. However, unlike years past, they didn’t all jam into the stores at 3 am for doorbusters. Instead, they spread their shopping out.
The new trend in Black Friday shopping is being called “Black November.” Instead of running sales and offers exclusively on Thanksgiving weekend, retailers are rolling out sales throughout the entire month of November and into December. In 2017, In-store traffic on Black Friday decreased about 1% from 2016, but the amount of money spent certainly didn’t decrease, it just shifted.
Data shows that online sales from November 1 through November 22, 2017, totaled $30.4 billion, an 18% growth compared to the year previous. Nearly 65% of online orders were made on a mobile device. So, plenty of holiday shoppers are still taking to the stores, but plenty are also whipping out their tablets and smartphones to get their shopping done.
Takeaway 2: Multichannel Experiences Can Beat Low Prices
Years ago, it was always the stores with the best Black Friday deals that won the business, period. While 63% of consumers are still motivated by price, price certainly isn’t everything to every shopper. There are plenty of people who would opt for a pleasant, seamless experience and pay slightly more rather than deal with long lines and grumpy salespeople just to get an extra 5% off an item.
Don’t think this is true? Consider the success of Bonobos, which uses brick-and-mortar stores as a place for shoppers to browse and try on clothes (and perhaps indulge in a beer). Shoppers choose their items, place an order, and the clothes are delivered to the customer’s front door.
Retailers are also attempting to compete with online-only retailers by providing in-store pickup. Customers can order and pay online and pick up their items the same day – in some cases within an hour. Multichannel experiences are starting to pay off. On Black Friday weekend, multichannel shoppers spent $82 more on average than shoppers who purchased exclusively online, and $49 more on average than shoppers who purchased exclusively in-store.
Takeaway 3: Traditional Retailers Got a Boost From Non-Traditional Shopping
Mega-retailer, Kohl’s ran a pretty traditional Black Friday promotion with doorbusters and deep discounts in 2017 and reported a record-breaking weekend both online and in-store. Some of their sales were driven by discounts on hot items like Apple Watches, Fitbits and Instant Pots (which sold out).
However, Kohl’s also saw a major boost in online shopping thanks to their order-online pickup in-store option. The retailer reported a 40% increase in orders that utilized this option that allows customers the convenience of online shopping with the instant gratification of in-store purchasing – without paying shipping costs.
Onward To 2018
Now that the holiday season is over, it’s important to take lessons like these into account as you plan for the year ahead. The recipe for success varies from store to store, retailer to retailer. The key to building Black Friday strategies for 2018 will be to dig into your unique data and plan offers, sales and experiences that will drive your customers to spend more with you.