What to expect from Black Friday


With Christmas coming up, we wanted to take a look at that classic holiday shopping tradition, Black Friday.

So after digital holiday shopping soared last year due to social distancing, what can we expect from Black Friday 2021?

Holiday shopping starts earlier every year

Though Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is on November 26th this year, it’s no longer the kickoff day for holiday shopping. In recent years, holiday shopping is beginning earlier and earlier. According to research from Digital Commerce 360, 60.9% of shoppers plan to start their holiday shopping before November and 82.8% before Black Friday.

How early? Iconic American retailer Macy’s, the setting for the holiday classic ‘The Miracle on 34th Street’, runs a Black Friday in July marketing campaign.

Via Macy's
Via Macy's

That said, just because shoppers began shopping over the summer does not mean it’s too late. According to research from Klarna, though 40% of US consumers surveyed planned to begin holiday shopping earlier in 2021, 56% of consumers plan to continue buying online during Black Friday.

Manage the supply chain

Challenges impacting holiday shopping in 2021 are those related to the supply chain. These supply chain challenges are driven by several factors, including factory closings and slowdowns related to COVID-19, an increase in the purchase of goods manufactured in Asia resulting in shipping delays, and delays in ports unable to handle all of the containers of goods being shipped.

Some of these issues have been with us all year, and many manufacturers and retailers order early and from more suppliers to manage these challenges. That said, the bottleneck with shipping goods has resulted in 100-600% increases in the average spot price for a shipping container.

Via Digital Commerce 360

Go omnichannel

One trend, which grew last holiday because of social distancing, and is gaining strength this holiday season and Black Friday is the ultra-convenient omnichannel shopping.

Omnichannel retailing means that a shopper can begin their buying journey through one channel and conclude it via another channel through one seamless shopping experience. Some customers will begin the process on the website and then pick it up in-store, while others will visit the store and end up ordering a product out-of-stock in the store which is then delivered home. According to research from global, active-lifestyle brand Fabletics, omnichannel shoppers spend 2.5x more than single-channel shoppers do.

Via Shutterstock

Last year, many discovered Buying Online and Picking up In-Store (BOPIS), and curbside pickup. This year, usage in both omnichannel tactics is increasing because shoppers like the convenience of ordering online and then picking it up in-store or at the curb instead of having to wait for the delivery.

An important omnichannel channel, particularly in the holiday season, is social media. Many shoppers of all ages are turning to platforms like TikTok, Snap, Facebook, Instagram (including Reels), and Pinterest.

Given its strong growth, marketers and retailers should consider advertising on TikTok this holiday season. For more insights about marketing on TikTok, check out this blog post.

The social channels are turning to cameras and augmented reality to provide users with advanced functionality, like American Eagle’s AE x Snapchat AR Jeans Guide which allows users to virtually try on a pair of chains, bringing the store’s dressing room to wherever the shopper is. One can’t get much more omnichannel than that.

As of today, there’s still time to create omnichannel marketing campaigns in time for Black Friday this year.

This year, shopper’s are craving experience

After a holiday shopping season in 2020 defined by e-commerce driven by social distancing, many shoppers are craving an in-store experience this year. That’s undoubtedly why customer experience is the #2 category (after marketing), which retailers are investing in to grow their holiday business this year (according to research from Digital Commerce 360).

via Shutterstock

Camp, a New York City-based retailer, uses gamification, including digitally-enabled play spaces, interactive games, and skill-based challenges to bring in and keep shoppers entertained and focused on buying.

As we wrote last spring, outerwear manufacturer Canada Goose created a store in Toronto dubbed ‘The Journey’ with no inventory but with a cold room set to 10˚F (-12˚C) surrounded by real snow and a two-story glacier façade. Click here and scroll down to read more about Canada Goose.

Though it might be too late to create an experience for holiday shoppers in time for Black Friday, this is a trend to keep in mind for 2022.

It’s marketing!

As research from Digital Commerce 360 highlighted, marketing is the leading category that retailers are investing in to grow their holiday business this year.

Via Digital Commerce 360

This means that you still have time to produce and market that holiday campaign that will make Black Friday 2021 a positive event for your business. And as research from Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate indicated from last year, Black Friday was the holiday shopping day with the highest percentage of online shoppers.

So even in 2021, Black Friday still matters.

If you’re looking for some marketing support for your 2021 Black Friday and holiday campaigns, reach out to Creative Clicks today. We have a lot of experience across geographies and verticals in managing profitable holiday marketing campaigns.

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