What are customers expecting for Black Friday 2021?
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the growth of digital commerce substantially. What has also changed with this global health crisis were customer habits: Even people who were reluctant to online shopping were left with no choice, becoming more acquainted with the ins and outs of ecommerces everywhere. In 2020 only the UK saw a 74% surge in online shopping, with 26% of shoppers declaring an increase in their digital spending.
This has translated to all major shopping events, especially during the biggest retail event of the industry: Black Friday. According to Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast, ecommerce holiday sales will grow by 11% to 15% on a yearly basis during the 2021-2022 holiday season, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday as its centerpiece sales events.
Lost are the days where customers would queue up for hours in front of department stores, elbowing their way through an assortment of products in the hopes of finding the best deals. Now online, the race is for lowest prices and in-stock products.
Black Friday 2020 sales surged 22% in the US, according to Adobe Analytics. Will customers keep the digital shopping trend going? Criteo research says that yes, they will keep shopping online.
That is why you should focus on improving your ecommerce operation and on understanding where your customers stand, what they are expecting and how to reach those expectations.
What are customers expecting for Black Friday 2021
It is impossible to predict the future but, for most retailers, attempting to do so is just a part of the job. When it comes to big events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2021, it is important to carefully research and plan for a good execution once time arrives.
Shopping experiences, new online channels, early sales and harvesting customer loyalty are just a few of the solutions to better meet customers needs, according to a quick Black Friday 2021 trend research. Expectations vary from industry to industry, but one thing is certain: customers want end-to-end shopping excellence. A few tips on how to achieve it are below.
The BFCM shopping experience
Take a step back and think of yourself as if you were the customer. What would you want and need for your shopping journey to be as seamless and smooth as possible? Customer experience excellence is key, but can also be difficult to maintain while online. To get rid of any type of bump or friction that may alter user experience, such as low quality images, slow page loading time, wrong product links and others is one of the possible actions.
Brand and website quality
Your website quality is key when it comes to customer retention and to cross-selling and up-selling. When talking about quality, we are talking beyond images and product itself. It is also about what kind of content it is being offered to customers.
With the latest uproar of branded content and the idea that brands are more than what they sell, content is essential for retailers all over. What customers engage with is often what will bring people closer to your website and brand. A shareable organic video about a product can sometimes be worth more than targeted product ads. These are already saturated and clients will often steer away from them.
Other than that, the content inside your website has to be as relevant as possible — well-built product pages with clear information, related products, material descriptions, size guides and more are info that customers are constantly looking for.
Black Friday is all about the deals but, at the same time, exclusivity has been playing a large role in brand-customer relationships. Recently, a survey conducted by Kelton Global and Sheer ID stated that half of the consumers will feel excited if they receive an exclusive offer or service. Economically wise, COVID-19 has brought some difficulties amongst buyers, so it is time to use loyalty as a way to make shoppers buy smart and not only because of deals.
For brands that already have loyal customers, some Black Friday big sales strategies can be adapted to focus more on the exclusivity of discounts rather than having the same discounts for everyone. Adapting strategies and offering customers much more targeted discounts based on their price sensitivity is a smarter strategy that will preserve sales and gross margin at the same time.
Frictionless checkout experience
Abandoned carts are online retailers’ worst nightmare, but there is a reason why customers do give up on shopping besides changing their minds: Bad checkout experience. That is why investing in a seamless checkout experience can improve the cart abandonment rate, which is proved to be even higher just before big online sales events such as BFCM.
Arranging pricing and discounts to work without overwhelming your servers and using functionalities such as the persistent cart are the two main ways to avoid shoppers from leaving your website empty-handed.
Product discovery, everywhere
Your website is no longer the only online selling spot for your products. With social media presence getting larger and larger each day, customers are finding new ways to buy and discover their favorite products and stores. Either through Instagram shops, marketplaces, Facebook, targeted web ads and even physical stores, customers expect products to find them or to be easily found by one simple search.
Criteo released research that reports search engines as responsible for 39% of product discovery, followed by physical stores (33%) and finally brand websites and apps (32%). This is why working hard on SEO to make sure your store is well-positioned for a specific product search has become a must.
It is also important to observe other trends, such as social selling and conversational commerce. These trends have put the power of social media and customer service to the test, delivering good results and allowing customers to purchase through links on social media or messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
Business Insider predicts that mobile commerce (m-commerce) will account for 36% of all ecommerce sales this year. And currently, mobile apps are converting customers 157% more often than mobile website counterparts.
Early shoppers get the best deals
Isn’t that how the saying goes? Anyways, just like in 2020, 2021 holiday shopping will begin as early as possible. Customers are looking for the best Black Friday deals as soon as they can in order to avoid any type of shipping issues, price surges or risk products going out of stock, as they often do in big retail sales events.
That is why some companies are starting to offer discounts associated with Black Friday shopping as soon as mid-October, as a way to warm-up for the big event. In the United States, for example, “Black November” and “Cyber Week” are slowly replacing the Black Friday and Cyber Monday specific sales days.
Even more retail business owners will start offering early deals for customers who need and want to beat everyone else and to get their shopping done. Another good practice is rolling out discounts while marketing even better deals for weeks to come, culminating in this year’s Black Friday which will happen on November 26th.
Free shipping and other perks
In a fast-paced world, fast (and, if possible, free) delivery is expected by the majority of customers — especially the ones who are already used to other big retailers like Amazon offering free shipping to their own Prime members.
Small perks like those can mean a rise in sales, not necessarily for the money saved but by the illusion of saving money. For instance, if lowering shipping costs to zero means that product prices must go up, it still creates the illusion that money is not being spent.
Another strategy is making subscription and memberships available, granting perks like free shipping or even other products such as gift bags, next purchase discounts, exclusive launches club and more.
Black Friday 2021: it’s all about the customer
Customer care should be the most valuable asset for brands. After analyzing trends and predictions, the most important thing for retailers to do is seeing themselves through clients’ perspectives. Through shopping data, customer shopping habits tracking, social media interactions and other indicators, retailers can identify patterns and learn how to best suit those patterns during sales events.
Going back on your own Black Friday fails and successes and witnessing other brands talk about their own BFCM experiences is very important. Also, listening to clients’ feedback and conducting small surveys can be very fruitful when it comes to “predicting the future”.
The goal is to make the most out of Black Friday 2021 and so the focus should be on offering the best deals and best customer experience while growing your own brand — keep your customers’ preferences and behavior in mind in order to work on those goals.