Biz Tips: In a Digital World, is Black Friday Still Relevant?

Biz Tips: In a Digital World, is Black Friday Still Relevant?

Biz Tip:

In a Digital World, is Black Friday Still Relevant?

With Black Friday falling on November 29th and Cyber Monday on December 2nd, the traditional 2019 holiday season is a full week shorter than last year; yet only one in three shoppers are aware of this. While the compact season is set to stress late-season shoppers and retailers alike, it’s not slowing down spend. In fact, this season is predicted to be the first $1 trillion holiday in the United States, with digital spend up 13% over last year for a total of $136 billion.

People are spending, but they’re shopping differently. In fact, the oblivion of two-thirds of shoppers to the fact that the season is shorter may be due to the fact that nearly half of Americans (47%) kicked off their holiday shopping last July with Amazon Prime Week. Of those, 70% who purchased through Amazon bought a holiday gift.

The popularity of Prime Week has enabled Amazon to shift the holiday season to the third quarter, with 61% of shoppers starting their gift buying in the autumn before Thanksgiving. Only 25% of shoppers start on Black Friday or later.

Shoppers go where the deals are, and retailers have had to follow Amazon’s footsteps in offering discounts earlier than before. This year 54% of retailers offered earlier holiday discounts, starting in September. Black Friday deals began a full week earlier, with “Black Friday Week” now an extended sale period designed to convert sales long before the in-store hours take place. Cyber Monday extends these sales. It is estimated that 50% of the season’s digital revenue will be completed by Friday, December 6th, the same as in 2018, but holiday spending is now stretched out far beyond the traditional season.

Personalized digital experiences play a role

This trend may reflect the overall shift in digital consumer behavior where they expect to be able to find great deals when and where they want them, and purchase when inspiration strikes. Digital and mobile experiences and the convenience of omnichannel shopping have enabled shoppers to buy holiday gifts anytime they desire. And retailers are getting savvy about how to create and curate that desire through personalization.

Personalization has created a curated shopping experience where recommendations take the stress out of shopping and easy “wish list” sharing across social media makes it easier than ever to choose what to buy and feel confident doing so.

As machine learning and AI-driven personalization customizes shopping for people and deliver up the best matches in sales from retailers, shoppers don’t have to wait for the holiday season to start gift buying. Retailers who use personalization in a way that feels supportive, helpful and makes life easier for shoppers can inspire desire for a product at times when the shopper may not have otherwise considered it.

In 2018, shoppers that engaged with product recommendations powered by AI had a 26% higher average purchase order value than those who did not. Getting the right item at the best price in front of shoppers, with convenient options such as fast shipping and click-and-collect (buy online and pick up in store) gives shoppers the incentive to buy without waiting for the holiday rush.

But that doesn’t mean brands can simply ignore Black Friday. After all, Black Friday still accounts for the number one sales day in the year. And although Black Friday has seen a decline recently, you’d be missing out on a quarter of all holiday shoppers by ignoring it.

Brands must combine the best of both worlds—the ease of digital with the power of Black Friday. By opening up multiple available channels, brands are able to include all the features consumers love—AI assist, personalized campaigns, etc—with the date that a quarter of Americans still define as the beginning of their shopping season.

Ultimately, with the new wave of digital shopping, brands have been able to push the holiday season into the early parts of Autumn. But Black Friday is still simply too big a titan to ignore. And every channel, from TV to print, from mobile to social, brands need to be ready for the influx of shoppers, while still delivering the personalized experiences they desire.

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