Black Friday 2020 could be one for books. With industries around the world suffering from the pandemic, the busiest shopping weekend of the year will be a turning point for many retailers.
With the landscape continuously evolving, it can be difficult to predict what the future holds. Some industries are still seeing surprising increases in e-commerce sales, whilst others struggle to stay afloat. However, even with the fluctuating environment, it is still possible to apply the most fundamental strategies to try to ensure Black Friday is a success.
Let’s take a look at the latest data, and find ways to stand out from the crowd during eCommerce’s most competitive day of the year.
Black Friday 2020 for Retailers:
Black Friday 2019 - Actionable Insights
Black Friday vs Cyber Monday 2019; source: nosto.com
In 2019, Americans spent more money on Black Friday shopping than ever before. Around 40% of shoppers made online purchases. This amounts to 93.2 million buying shopping online.
Both online, and in-store sales figures increased over last year as consumers grow more comfortable with shopping on their smartphones and tablets.
Brick-and-mortar sales were up 4.2% over last year, according to an annual holiday spending report from Fiserv. This year we expect a reduction in that trend due to the pandemic outbreak. Many major retailers are planning to be closed on Black Friday, whilst regulations will ensure those that do open will only allow a certain amount of customers to enter at once.
Last year, financial technology companies also found that shoppers were willing to travel for a discount. A quarter of consumers traveled more than 25 miles to visit a physical store. Due to the enforced pandemic restrictions, this year will probably see a contrasting behavioral pattern.
Reports suggest that electronics, appliances, sporting goods, and clothing were the must-have items in 2019. Electronics and appliances accounted for $214 per transaction on average, while shoppers spent $101 on sporting goods, and $81 on shoes and clothing.
- Spending via mobile wallets was up 82% compared with 2018. Black Friday shopping figures in the U.S. showed more consumers embracing mobile and general online shopping for the best deals. Meanwhile average order volume increased, showing more willingness to make big ticket purchases via smartphone.
Black Friday 2019 was the biggest ever day for mobile shopping with $2.9 billion in smartphone transactions, with 61% of all online retail coming from smartphone transactions, representing a 15.8% increase from 2018, and 39% of all eCommerce sales coming from smartphones.
Why is 2020 Black Friday Going to Be Different?
Consumer behavior may change, but purchasing patterns can be maintained
With social distancing being a new normal, it’s hard to imagine buyers wandering side by side on the pavement this year. It's even harder to imagine stores full of excited shoppers.
Over the years, Black Friday has moved to online channels, merging with Cyber Monday for a weekend event. The pandemic is expected to further cement this transition.
While consumers have largely focused on purchasing essentials during the pandemic, it is still predicted that there will be a large interest in clothing and jewellery.
Shoppers may also have an appetite for traditional Black Friday categories such as computers. These discounts will be attractive considering how critical laptops have become, when people around the world work, learn, and interact virtually from home.
An increased amount of shoppers migrated online
Last year, buyers spent $20 billion on Black Friday and $30 billion on Cyber Monday. With the increased use of online stores at the moment, it is likely that 2020 will be a big year for eCommerce.
So what we can expect in 2020?
- It is expected that up to 30% of global retail sales will be made through digital channels this upcoming holiday season.
- 41% of Black Friday consumers that usually shop in person will turn to other methods this year.
- Shoppers don’t plan on spending less for holiday shopping in 2020 than in 2019
- 72% of shoppers plan to shop more online this holiday season
A challenging opportunity for e-retailers
Recent shifts in consumer behavior have forced many eCommerce retailers to rethink their strategies. The upcoming weekend is no exception. How can retailers prepare for the potential surge/dip in Black Friday performance?
One form of preparation is to conduct load testing. Planning accordingly for unprecedented surges in digital activity will ensure your site stays functional at the most important times.
It is also important to ensure your customer service, operations, and fulfillment capabilities are at effective, and profitable levels. This will help to create return customers.
Holiday season starts earlier
Some of the largest retailers will begin rolling out Black Friday sales earlier, with the hope of alleviating COVID-19 related issues.
Black Friday may become an extended period, rather than a single day of sales, says Michael Brown, a partner in the consumer practice of Kearney.
“I think we have to really not think about Black Friday and think more about when the launch of the holiday season will begin. I think that has to be pulled up by retailers as early as November 1,”
Michael Brown - partner in the consumer practice of Kearney,
a global strategy and management consultant.
Prime Day was moved
Amazon moved Prime Day this year, with the hope of helping its merchants. Instead of the usual June event, it took place on October the 13th, and 14th. Last year, Prime Day generated an estimated $7.16 billion in sales last year.
After months of delays Prime Day deals are basically going to run right into Black Friday deals. Black Friday could start as early as October 26th, with early deals running through to mid November, according to reports from Tamebay.
Not only is Amazon putting on its biggest sale of the year, but Walmart and Best Buy have both brought forward their planned November deals to compete.
Most of brick and mortar stores are going to be closed
Most brick and mortar stores are going to be closed due to COVID pandemic, with sales moving online.
There is still great uncertainty in the traditional retail environment. Many stores are now prioritising online shopping as an alternative, but are still set to make considerably less than they traditionally have done at this time of year.
The Countdown to Black Friday - Time to Optimize
With more retailers on the web than ever, and with Amazon leading the charge, there's going to be some fierce price wars over the next few months.
Online retailers know that the Black Friday weekend can be a make-or-break for their yearly sales. The exceptionally high sales that occur during this time can deliver impressive returns and make up for the rest of the year.
It is also one of the most stressful times of year for retailers. Trying to reap the most rewards will put a lot of strain on the merchant.
Black Friday is sooner than you might think, and it's worth start planning your strategy.
So what can you do to avoid missing out on the most important retail event of the year? Here are some of the best tactics to help you with two important aspects of your shopping campaigns:
- How to perform a Google Shopping historic performance check.
- Prioritize the feed improvements with the highest bottom line impact.
Get your Google Shopping Campaigns Ready for Black Friday
1. Clear your feed of errors
In Google Merchant Center, go to your Item issues in the Diagnostics tab. Look for any errors, warnings, and notifications on items in your feed.
Try to prioritize solving the errors on all items, so that all your products become eligible for shopping campaigns.
Take a look into 35 Common Merchant Center Errors and Simple Ways to Fix Them to troubleshoot your main errors.
2. Fix issues at a product level
Focus on solving the warnings and notifications for the products that have the best results. Google has enhanced their reporting on Shopping campaigns. Now you can combine a product status report, which shows products that need improvements, alongside a performance report.
For example, you can add Clicks and Conversions data, and decide which of the products with performance issues you need to improve first.
Eventually, you want to have all products in good shape. But with the clock ticking, this allows you to focus your resources on the top 20% performers.
3. Check Impression and Click Share metrics
Impression share is the percentage of impressions a product has received, divided by the number of impressions that product was eligible to receive.
Click share shows the percentage of clicks on a product, relative to the amount of clicks it was eligible to receive.
Track Impression Share and Click Share together at product group level for the top performers or high-margin products and:
- If impression share is high, and click share is low, your products are showing for irrelevant search queries
- If impression share is low, and click share is high, you should increase the bids to receive more impressions
4. Improve Top Spot Impression Share
Check the Absolute Top Spot Impression Share for your best performing products.
This metric shows the how many times a product was shown in a top position in the Google Shopping Carousel, against the number of times your product was eligible for top impressions.
A top position refers to the top left spot in the Google Shopping carousel.
The competition for the Top Impression will likely result in increased bids, so it doesn’t make sense to compete for the top impression on all the products.
5. Take a look at last years data
Look at historic data to see what has worked and what hasn’t. Use the reports to look for reusable keywords, best performers, bid increases, and other performance metrics.
It is very important that you use these insights to get the most out of your budget.
6. Assess your feed's health
If you don’t know where to get started, there are plenty of areas where improvements can have an immediate impact on the shopping campaign performance. So, before ironing out your feed improvement strategy try to find out:
Are your product titles search friendly, and will they draw in clicks?
Are you using all the right keywords in the description?
Are your prices accurate and updated?
Make sure that the prices in the feed are similar to the ones on the product landing page and there are no 0$ values.
- Have you categorized your products in detail?
- Is the data accurate?
Make sure that all out of stock items are handled with exclusion rules, and submit regular feed updates.
7. Prioritize your feed improvements
You’ve made a list of the products that need improvements, and now you’re just realizing that there’s only so much that you can do.
If scalability is a problem, narrow your parameters further. Whilst still focusing on your top 10-20%, focus on the feed improvements that have the biggest impact on your product titles, descriptions, and feed frequency updates.
8. Improve product titles
Making title improvements on Google Shopping can sometimes seem quite challenging. Especially when you don’t see positive results straight away. However, patience is one of the many key’s to effective titles.
Here are some other quick tips for improving your titles:
- Create automation rules for titles based on the vertical of each product
- Try and mimic customer language when writing the titles. The word order matters. ‘’White coat’’ is not necessarily the same as ‘’coat white’'
- Brand should be included first in the title structure. The only exception is when the brand is frequently searched for. In that case it should be moved to the middle or end of the title
9. Improve your descriptions
Complete descriptions should include additional key information about the products that help
attract new traffic.
Optimize your descriptions by using insights from shopping search term reports & keyword research tools. With the insights gathered you can use your new found knowledge to recreate your descriptions. That way, they are more likely to match high traffic search terms.
Data you should include in the product description consists of: brand, product type, size, shape, pattern, texture, material, age range, special features and technical information.
10. Increase the frequency of the feed updates
A feed update every 24 hours has become a best practice for online merchants. For Black Friday, and the holiday season, frequent intraday updates are paramount to making sure you don’t miss out on opportunities.
You can submit intraday updates with the online product inventory update. This should be done for these product data changes: prices, availability, sale price and sale price effective date.
There are multiple types of feeds that you can use in your Google Shopping Campaigns, therefore you should carefully consider which is the most useful for you.
The future of Black Friday
We are still learning about Black Friday 2020. And whilst we have many predictions on the outlook, nothing is certain in an ever changing environment. Nonetheless, here are some useful tips to help your business easily adapt to the constant market fluctuations:
Create a Virtual Shopping Experience
While many consumers will be happy to shop online, others will miss the experience of being in store, with family and friends after Thanksgiving.
To succeed this Black Friday, you may need a degree of outside of the box thinking. For businesses looking to shake things up online in 2020, using technology to drive sales this Black Friday is a MUST.
Focus on Collection and Delivery Solutions
Consumers have adjusted to buying online and then picking up in the store. Being prepared for an influx of this type of buyer will ensure a smooth Black Friday experience.
Consider Free Shipment
Offering free shipping is a small, but effective way to build brand loyalty. It can also be a key factor in converting, and retaining customers beyond Black Friday.
Remember that even free shipping is a major perk in the eyes of most consumers. However, it is not considered a promotion. An estimated 38% of buyers will not shop in places that do not offer free shipping. Therefore, on days like Black Friday, it is a necessity.
This Black Friday is undoubtedly going to be unique. As countries try to understand how to safely open businesses, retailers and brands need to adapt their holiday marketing strategies to the latest consumer trends.
As a retailer, it is vital you remain vigilant and focus on your strategy. Planning, and adapting will be integral to business successes. New customer needs will create a demand for innovation.
Facing the threat of a pandemic, many companies may focus on defensive measures. But during a period of sales that generates such substantial consumer interest, going on the offensive may actually be the best strategy. That way, you can make the most of the new wave of online opportunity.