Strategy

Are you ready for your best Black Friday?

Gabriela Porto
Gabriela Porto April 20, 2021
Are you ready for your best Black Friday?

Remember those days when people camped outside stores and used to wait long hours to bust open doors and run in to get a TV, or a new set of kitchen appliances, for the lowest price possible? That used to be the real, raw, Black Friday experience. And maybe will never happen again given a post-COVID world and crowd controlling. Thankfully we have the internet! As you know, the ecommerce dynamics are different and they come with their own challenges. What last year showed us is that resilience and reinvention are two important pillars to a successful online sales approach. Here are the things to look out for Black Friday 2021 by looking back and reflecting on things that happened in 2020.

Look around!

According to the NRF Report for 2020, retail sales in the US were only supposed to grow at about 3% total, yet we saw they climb to 6.7% for the year. When we look at online share revenue, U$969 billion of sales happened there, when predictions for 2023 were projected to hit the U$960 billion mark. 

It is safe to say that, for 2021, the forecast is all over the place. It is necessary to study the patterns and bet on a seamless Black Friday experience for the customer online and, if it’s the case, on physical stores, as well.

There is convenience to online shopping, but when you look at shoes or other categories that are more touch feel, I believe that there is going to be an obvious shift back to some sort of omnichannel. But in many of these categories [like grocery], I’m seeing the numbers and kind of nodding and saying it has accelerated beyond the point of no return.

Thiago Garcia, VP, Customer Experience, VTEX

Is the digital shift here for good?

We have seen different strategies last year, not only during Black Friday. And most of those strategies came from identifying customer and business struggles. Going all out shouldn’t be scary, but encouraging. Finding what works for your business model is the best way to overcome challenges and the best way to do that is by observing tendencies and not being afraid to make mistakes.

In 2020, one of the biggest discomforts for most companies was keeping inventory and offering every possible option for their customers without disrupting the buying experience. What businesses are putting forth for this year’s Black Friday is already being bought and many supply chains have not recovered from 2020 yet. 

What we can gather is that customers are choosing to buy prior to the considered holiday period – starting on November 1st and going through December, according to NRF. They are willing to spend more money in order to guarantee that the product they want will be available and delivered on time.

One of the solutions to recover those orders is omnichannel –  as the main strategy for brick-and-mortar and online operations in terms of offering logistics solutions that work both for the business and the client. 

If you’re creating a greater basket size, opening a new channel or facilitating the sale of a third party seller, at the end of the day, you’re fulfilling a need for a consumer who would otherwise have to hop to three different stores to get everything in that particular category. So, the supply chain is still going to play a role in 2021. And the way to overcome that is to be flexible in how you’re lining up your distribution of inventory.

Thiago Garcia, VP, Customer Experience, VTEX

And when talking about delivery and inventory, reverse logistics should be put on the spotlight. Holiday season is just a season that keeps on gifting, but there is always that present that is just not it. Now that you can’t run back to the mall to exchange or even get a refund on that product, how to keep those customers closer to your store? You run that last mile for them. That’s how reverse logistics should work, erasing the uncertainty of online shopping and making the customer experience easier.

Out-of-the-box solutions

Consumer behavior changed at the same speed as everything else, so keeping their experiences as innovative and dynamic from traditional ecommerce is key in bringing them closer to your brand. For instance, if the customer can’t go to the mall, or to the store, bring the store to them. That’s what major retailers and marketplaces, like Amazon, did by adopting the live streaming strategy. It gives more options to that undecided customer and more information to the customer that already knows what they want to buy.

I think it was a great substitute for the assisted sale that you can get in store. You can see how big it is and how well it performs. And when you actually see it live, it adds an extra layer of proximity to the product. I can see myself using this product, I can see how this product works.

Thiago Garcia, VP, Customer Experience, VTEX

Another key topic for 2021 holiday commerce is payments. It’s no secret that people around the world are facing financial crisis as many have lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet. How to make this process more accessible, easier and attractive for your client? 

Here are some key actions to launch now:

  • Prepare, prepare and prepare! It’s never too early to start working on strategies for Black Friday. Keep that in mind.
  • Think like the customer. How would you like your buying experience to be better? The right solution for your problem might be just at your reach.
  • Trust numbers, but also trust your team and your intuition. Changes are constantly happening and you have to learn how to adapt.
  • Be flexible and think of out-of-the-box solutions for traditional strategies that already work. The goal is to always improve your brand experience where and when you can!

We recently brought experts and key players together in an online and open roundtable to address all the issues above and more.

For the full session on what happened last year and what’s in store for Black Friday 2021, watch the recording here.

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