Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is traditionally seen in the United States as the start of the holidays and has permanently evolved into Black Week. In the Netherlands, the phenomenon is now widely known among online shoppers. 95% know the day’s name and 79% know what it entails. Cyber Monday is slightly less known. 73% knows the day by name, but only half (48%) can tell what it stands for. Here, too, consumers see Black Friday as the start of the month of December. Nearly three in ten say they stock up on gifts on Bargain Friday.
All kinds of records have been broken
Although Black Friday has been growing in popularity for years, it got an extra boost this year. The COVID-19 outbreak has caused a much greater number of consumers to shop online and thus have come into contact with this shopping day. Again, all kinds of records have been broken this year. Based on the sales transactions of more than twenty thousand Dutch web stores, Klarna concluded that Black Friday was 80% larger than in 2019. The Electronics, Entertainment and Health & Beauty categories in particular grew strongly and benefited from the buying madness.
Consumer behavior is changing
What is striking about 2020 is that consumer behavior is noticeably changing. For example, the number of short-term “flash sales” in the evening has increased sharply. Online stores could also count on 84% more orders in the first hour (from 12AM) than last year. This means that the companies have more than ten times more orders to process in this hour than on an average day. Even more remarkable is that Black Friday can no longer be called a bargain day. The days before and Cyber Monday have become just as important. The number of sales Monday through Thursday grew 97% from a year ago.
Sales peak is more manageable
The barriers that were previously needed in the shopping streets have had to be permanently relocated by retailers to their digital shop front. The good news of this is that from now on the sales peak can be spread a lot better operationally. The thousands of extra parcels that had to be mailed simultaneously in previous years are now sent out in several days. Online retailers can hardly avoid involving them in their approach these days. They make the sales peak a lot more manageable.
The weakest link
Nevertheless, the digital peak load turned out to be causing problems again this year. There are still online retailers who have insufficiently prepared their digital infrastructure and are not prepared for the hundreds of extra visitors per minute. What appears time and again is that the stability does not only depend on the own infrastructure, but is also related to the linked systems. As always, the weakest link breaks the chain. When the logistics or order management software can’t handle the peak, it only leaves customers with a bad experience. The chance that this will result in a returning and loyal customer is very small.
This year Black Friday has permanently become Black Week. Therefore, it is smart not to view the bargain day as an isolated thing, but as a special offer week and part of the broader marketing strategy. Now that the popularity among young people continues to increase (the 18-25 age group experienced the greatest growth), the requirements are also changing. These digital consumers are not satisfied with the lowest price alone. They look for reliability in the entire process from orientation to payment. The requirements for this will definitely increase again in the coming edition.