Operations

Black Friday 2021: Insights and learnings, from our team to yours

Júlia Miozzo
Júlia Miozzo December 10, 2021
Black Friday 2021: Insights and learnings, from our team to yours

As the ecommerce ecosystem evolves and changes, each big retail event like Black Friday 2021 brings us not only insights but also new learnings that help companies understand what is yet to come in the future of commerce — and, therefore, how they can better prepare for it.

To aid brands and retailers towards that mission, we’ve chosen the six biggest insights identified by our Customer Success team based on our customers’ strategies and results, which you can understand properly and in-depth below. 

1. New shopping experiences are a must 

A few growing trends, such as social selling, becoming a marketplace, offering an omnichannel experience, curbside pick-up and others had an increase in adoption. 

All in all, this improves consumers’ online shopping experience — especially during big events such as Black Friday, when the competition for consumers’ attention is the biggest. VTEX customers that offer these experiences are able to better understand consumers’ needs in different channels and platforms and, therefore, to make more accurate decisions.

2. Less dependency on Black Friday itself

A not-so-recent trend in Latin America is expanding to regions, such as Western Europe (WE) and the United States (US). Both witnessed an increase in discount strategies that goes beyond Black Friday itself and spread throughout the whole week or even month of November. 

In Brazil, the US and WE, this has been an assertive strategy to not only have better results than in previous years, but also an easy, chill week of discounts that wouldn’t be affected by the frenzy of a single day, like Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

This year, results from Black Friday itself represented a deceleration in the growth we’ve been seeing each year, so the strategy of anticipating discounts helped retailers spread sales, attract more customers and drive overall numbers up.

3. Solutions for supply chain problems

Verticals such as the electronics and sporting goods, among others, faced some supply chain problems this Black Friday, leading to a shortage of some products. According to a study from Adobe Analytics, in October U.S. consumers received 2 billion out-of-stock messages and the share of ecommerce page views that indicated out-of-stock goods was 300% higher than in 2019. 

In this scenario, two solutions were recommended to retailers — and stores that followed them performed better than the ones who didn’t. The first, offering replacements and substitutions to the unavailable products lowers the chances of having an abandoned cart and increases the chances of conversion. The second, highlighting and promoting gift cards as an alternative to the actual product, so when it is available the purchase can be made.

Plus, these are low-cost, low-effort and high-impact solutions that also happen to have a fast time-to-market. Some success cases from this year include FARM, one of Grupo Soma’s brands, Honey Be and Miess, all Brazilian brands.

4. Finding the balance between margins and channels

With all the challenges in the supply chain and inflation, retailers had a great challenge in balancing lower margins and product allocation in external channels, such as marketplaces. The trade-off is not easy: external marketplaces can be a great place to drive sales — yet it often comes at the expense of reduced margins. 

What was interesting to see is that the holiday shopping season is an opportunity to increase sales and an opportunity to acquire new customers: Numbers from 2020 indicate a growth of 30% in customer acquisition in the U.S. during the period that starts on Thanksgiving and ends on Cyber Monday. Retailers who have chosen to allocate their inventory in their proprietary channels to preserve margins were able to control their margins and focus their efforts and investments on customer acquisition in their own proprietary channels.

5. The cashback Black Friday

In Brazil, this Black Friday was all about offering cashback. There were some traditional discounts and promotions, of course, but a bigger focus was on maintaining margins and offering consumers store credit (for the same store the purchase was made) or with partners such as Meliuz, Buscapé and Zoom, all big players in the region.

Retailers applied this new strategy aggressively, with offers of up to 25% cashback in some scenarios. A win-win for consumers and retailers!

6. The future is live shopping

One of VTEX’s functionalities that’s been disrupting the way people shop. While it’s still a recent phenomenon in Latin America and Europe, live shopping has been achieving stratospheric results for the companies that choose to implement it. Especially in the Asian market, where this sales model has been growing since 2016.

The biggest learning when it comes to live shopping is that companies don’t necessarily need a big production or set to broadcast. A few success cases from this year’s Black Friday had transmissions happening from distribution centers and retail stores themselves, with only the sales associate communicating with consumers. 

According to Manuel García, Head of Live Shopping for Latin America at VTEX, a live shopping strategy can generate an improvement of 500% to 600% of the conversion rate of traditional ecommerce, as well as longer average session times. Add in the big discounts and promotions being offered and you have great results awaiting!

Wrapping up

Keeping up with the holiday shopping season’s numbers and trends is what keeps retailers and companies up to date with the adaptations and changes that need to be made for the years to come. To do so in an agile, fast way, with the shortest time-to-market possible, is what will keep retailers ahead of the competition.

As our numbers and learnings suggest, customers still choose digital channels to make their purchases during Black Friday. And with new functionalities that can improve their shopping experiences, such as live shopping and social selling, the tendency showcases that digital will remain the main choice for many consumers — and VTEX is happy to be part of this as the enterprise digital commerce platform, helping companies boost their sales.

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