Online retailers have emerged clear winners of this year’s Black Friday battle for consumer spend.
There were initial fears that Black Friday 2017 (followed by Cyber Monday with its “top shelf” offers) would fail to shine. However, it ultimately resulted in online sales figures that put last year’s “in the shade”.
This continues the trend for cash-strapped shoppers to turn to online retailers for bargains and value for money.
It also reflects the shift in customer experience priorities. Consumers enjoy responsive eCommerce fulfilment and delivery services.
Especially in the busy lead up to Christmas, they prefer to find their discounted goods from the comfort of their armchairs or desks, rather than fighting it out during in-store sales.
How did Black Friday affect online sales?
According to the eCommerce trends service PCA Predict, online shopping fell by 24%, between midnight and 7am on Black Friday, when compared to 2016. However, this trend reversed by 5.30pm, at which time online sales showed a 3% increase year-on-year.
However, it’s highly significant that in the proceeding few days (when a number of eCommerce leaders started promoting discounted goods) there was a 11% rise in digital shopping.
This clearly indicates that online sales figures related to Black Friday show a healthy increase. In fact, Barclaycard announced that Black Friday spending finished 8% up on 2016. As they process almost 50% of all UK credit and debit card transactions, they have a unique perspective.
Indeed, John Lewis (an online and offline retailer) described its Black Friday experience as one of its “most successful days”. It announced that it included one of its busiest single hours ever of online trading.
What about shopping in physical stores?
Numbers of people visited physical stores fell during Black Friday. According to analysts, visitors to UK shopping centres, high streets and retail parks dropped by 8%.
The weeklong online activity promoting discounted electrical and fashion goods, could well have spread demand, and reduced the need to visit stores.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday trends
Among the conclusions from studying the relative success of Black Friday 2017, is the insight into what UK shoppers look for from internet-based retailers.
John Lewis announced that popular product searches were for Sonos speakers and iPads, for example.
Also, this shopping activity – as both a customer experience and sales tool – appears to work best when spread out.
This adds to the view that Black Friday and Cyber Monday should be part of a pre-Christmas “season” of special offers and promotions.