Black Friday: Deep Dive Into eCommerce’s Grand Show

With the festive season approaching, the buzz about Black Friday is increasing. But do you want to know why? Read this article to know about the same.

Black Friday

It is that special time of year again! The scent of carved pumpkins, falling leaves, and the promise of great online deals fills the air. Black Friday is just around the corner, and the excitement is real! I have already strategised my shopping plan – it involves a well-rehearsed sprint and a highly effective "grab and go" technique. Just kidding!

In the good old days, Black Friday was all about one hectic Friday in November. It was a time when you would see shoppers scrapping over discounted TVs in department stores, often making the evening news.

But times have changed. Now, it is a largely online affair that stretches over many days, maybe even weeks, and thankfully, without any boxing matches.

So, Black Friday has become a vital moment for eCommerce. And you can bet it is only going to get better. I'm not just saying this for the sake of it; the data backs it up! Keep reading to learn how Black Friday is emerging as a dynamic force in eCommerce.

Unveiling the Shopper

Black Friday marks the start of the holiday shopping season. It is the day when retailers go all out with awesome discounts and deals. Yes, I'm talking about some big savings that will leave your bank account grinning from ear to ear! It is called "Black Friday" because it is when retailers typically move from operating at a loss (in the red) to turning a profit (in the black).

Black Friday Shopping

Now, after all the in-person shopping on Black Friday, we have Cyber Monday, and that is where the online fun begins. You will discover fantastic deals and offers on eCommerce websites. Do you know what makes it even more exciting?

You can do it all from the comfort of your couch or sneak in some shopping while you are at your desk!

The holiday shopping season is the magical time of year! It is when we all become expert deal-hunters, whether in bustling stores or from the cosy home confines. And what better way to capture its essence than with a record-breaking surge in consumer activity?

Increase in Shopper Numbers

A record-breaking 196.7 million Americans hit the stores and the web during the five-day holiday shopping bonanza, starting from Thanksgiving and ending on Cyber Monday. This exciting data comes from a survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

Thanksgiving Weekend shoppers over the years

What is even more amazing is that this number has grown by nearly 17 million from 2021. It is the highest since NRF started keeping tabs in 2017. Now, the Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend is a cherished tradition for many of us.

You may naturally think rising prices have increased the number. Well, that was my first thought, considering my wallet is now on a strict budget and sheds dollars faster than I drop New Year's resolutions.

However, that is not the case at all. The survey shows that it is actually the demand for all the shopping fun that is driving this growth. We are getting clever with our dollars, and retailers are making it super convenient for us by offering deals both online and in-store.

Safe to say, it is a win-win for all!

In-Store Vs. Online: The Tilt

When it comes to shopping, we are often faced with a classic dilemma - the nostalgic, traditional in-store experience or the modern convenience of online shopping. Choosing between online and in-store shopping during BFCM is like a balancing act. As long as it is retail therapy, I guess the method doesn't matter much!

It is quite interesting to see how things are evolving. After the pandemic, many got used to the convenience of online shopping, and in-store shopping took a hit in recent years. But last year saw a 17% increase in the number of people who opted for good old-fashioned physical store shopping compared to 2021.

It is a clear sign that we are slowly but surely getting back to some of our pre-pandemic habits.

Thanksgiving Weekend in-store and online shoppers over by day

eCommerce is also on a steady rise, and mobile devices are playing a pivotal role in this retail revolution. Approximately 123 million people opted for in-store shopping, and 130 million people shopped online between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday in 2022

Just to give you an idea, in 2021, more than 42% of Black Friday sales came from smartphones – that was a 2% increase from 2019.

42% of 2021 Black Friday Ecommerce revenue sales came from mobile sales

Global online sales hit an all-time high of $281 billion during Cyber Week 2022, the period surrounding Black Friday, marking a 2% increase from 2021. About 86% of Gen Z and millennials chose online Black Friday shopping over in-store options.

Spending Stats

Holiday spending is shaping up to be quite different from the upward trend we have seen in the past. Let's take a closer look at the spending patterns of 2022 to figure out what this year has in store.

Average Spend Hike

On average, each shopper spent over $300 during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend in 2022 – an 8% increase from what they spent in 2021. It goes to show that when there are fantastic deals to be found, people are more than willing to drop at least $300 on their purchases.

Average spend on BFCM Weekend

Some actually save up throughout the year so that they can shop more during the BFCM weekends. They use this time to buy Christmas presents and tend to be a bit more generous with their shopping budget than they are throughout the rest of the year.

Now, the 8% increase I mentioned is not adjusted for inflation. Inflation means that some things, like gas, have gotten more expensive. So, subtracting the average inflation rate wouldn't give us the full picture.

However, even when we consider inflation and the rising prices of goods, the fact that more people are out there shopping is a clear sign that the shopping spree last year was bigger than ever.

Cyber Monday: The Billion-Dollar Rain

Holiday online shopping predictions were lukewarm last year, but you know what? The initial shopping frenzy, driven by some seriously tempting discounts, defied expectations. Cyber Monday was the star of the show, raking in $11.3 billion in online sales, according to Adobe Analytics. That is a 5.8% increase compared to Cyber Monday in 2021. It set both daily and yearly sales records.

Estimated revenue by key date

You see, Cyber Monday is usually the big finish to the long shopping weekend because it is when many of us are back to work but still find time for some online retail therapy. And the whole five-day shopping turned out even better than expected. Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and the weekend in between all brought in more sales than anyone initially thought.

Thanksgiving saw a solid $5.29 billion in sales, and Black Friday was even more impressive, with $9.12 billion in sales. The weekend between these two big days also held its own with $9.55 billion in sales.

Digital Channels: The Silent Machines Who Sell

Digital Channels for BFCM

Consumer demands and needs are ever-evolving. Retailers must adapt their products and business strategies to keep pace with the grandest sales events: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

SMS: The Rising Star

Every year, as we dive into November and December for the holiday season, there's a noticeable surge in the number of text messages (SMS) sent. I have always noticed how my phone transforms into a buzzing hub of holiday cheer and shopping deals during this time. This makes SMS a vital channel to include in your Black Friday strategy.

Even more noteworthy is the fact that over the Black Friday weekend, there was a startling 34% increase in the number of SMS messages sent. Not only that, but the overall volume of SMS messages went up by 14.8% compared to the week before.

Mobile Dominance

Besides SMS, social media referrals peaked unprecedentedly during Cyber Week last year. An impressive 76% of the total eCommerce traffic for the week arrived via mobile devices, marking a substantial shift towards convenient mobile shopping. However, social media played a more significant role than ever before and contributed nearly 10% of this traffic.

It marks a significant 22% increase compared to 2021. It clearly indicates that more shoppers are embracing the ease of finding and purchasing products through their favourite social platforms. Based on Salesforce data, this surge in social media referrals during the holiday season is the highest percentage we have ever seen.

Now, why are smartphones such a game-changer? Well, it is not just about making purchases for me; I use my mobile devices for various shopping activities. It is like having a personal shopping assistant in the palm of my hand! I can check out local store inventories, compare prices, use digital wallets to pay, and even find physical retail locations.

The BFCM Epicenters

Black Friday Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend take the spotlight for those who want to know the pulse of the eCommerce market and consumer confidence. It is the pinnacle of the year, the ultimate shopping celebration, where we find out how things are truly shaping up.

So, what were the moments that made the 2022 BFCM weekend truly extraordinary?

Shopify Merchants: The $7.5 Billion Feat

Shopify stands at the forefront as a leading provider of essential internet infrastructure for commerce. They offer the tools to start, expand, market, and manage retail operations to empower businesses of all sizes. The platform is about making commerce a seamless and reliable experience for shoppers everywhere.

Shopify had a Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) weekend that made waves! They clocked in a jaw-dropping $7.5 billion in sales, a whopping 19% more than they made last BFCM weekend in 2021. Black Friday emerged as the undisputed superstar, with sales soaring over $3.5 million per minute in 2022. It all happened at the magical hour of 12:01 PM EST on November 25th.

Shopify Black friday revenue (2018-2022)

But there is more! Over 52 million shoppers from all corners of the globe decided to make their purchases from brands powered by Shopify in 2022. That is a 12% jump from the previous year. I believe that is the eCommerce equivalent of a standing ovation.

And when we look at the bigger picture, it is clear that some countries had their shopping game faces on. The USA, UK, and Canada were the driving forces behind the global shopping phenomenon. Meanwhile, London, Los Angeles, and New York were among the top-selling cities.

Why? Because they knew what they wanted.

Their shoppers were on the hunt for top-notch products that would stand the test of time. And they didn't settle for the first price tag they saw. No, they compared prices diligently, ensuring they snagged the best deals.

All in all, Shopify merchants hit the jackpot, but in sales.

Email and SMS: The Unseen Catalysts

It is no secret that the holiday shopping madness starts earlier each year. But things were a bit different last year. Inflation was throwing a curveball, making people uncertain about their spending. eCommerce brands felt the pressure to get a head start on sales and feared shoppers might hold off on their purchases.

Another challenge is dealing with the ups and downs of marketing costs and performance on platforms like social media and paid search. Hence, many brands returned to basics, turning to email and SMS marketing to ramp up their Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) sales.

Black Friday Email Campaign

Black Friday and Cyber Monday saw a boost in sales in 2022. However, the driving force behind this increase seems to be inflation, not necessarily more people buying products. But here is the interesting part: Email and SMS marketing turned out to be super effective in accelerating sales.

  • Email marketing was the real star of the show, with promotional campaign emails taking off, increasing by 28% in November and a solid 27% during the Cyber 10.
  • Automated emails were no slouch either, surging by 45% in November and 73% during the Cyber 10.
  • While email drove a 13.8% increase in orders, Cyber 10 stole the spotlight with a stunning 34.4% boost.

Brands elevated the SMS game by sending 68% more messages, and during the Black Friday weekend (from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday), they sent 47% more. The result? A fantastic 57% and 23% increase in orders, respectively.

Despite a 34% drop in automated SMS sends in November, orders skyrocketed by nearly 1600%, showing that relevant messages through preferred channels really matter.

Marching Towards BFCM 2023: Prepping for the Fête

People are always on the lookout for great deals during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. While the sales may not have been as mind-blowing as in the past, there are still plenty of valuable lessons that retailers can take away from the last holiday shopping season for 2023.

And just like some enjoy watching football on Thanksgiving weekend and others prefer parades, I'm one of those who spend their time curating and engaging with attractive shopping deals. It is a part of the holiday shopping experience, after all!

Over the past couple of years, how we shop during Black Friday and Cyber Monday has been quite the rollercoaster ride. Pandemic-related supply chain disruptions, pent-up demand, and in-person shopping limitations have reshaped how, when, and where we do our BFCM shopping.

Now, let's talk about how things played out last year. We had a hunch it would be different, with the shopping season spreading out and offering more consistent deals rather than the usual mad rush for door-busting discounts. However, there are a few key shopping behaviours that retailers need to be aware of to keep up with the changing retail market.

While some headlines from the Washington Post and Insider hinted that Black Friday Cyber Monday numbers for 2022 might not match previous years, the reality turned out quite differently.

Black Friday sales (2020-2023)

We saw records being shattered. Over the Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend, retailers using Shopify raked in an impressive 19% more in gross revenue compared to 2021. On top of that, Adobe's data revealed that online spending on Black Friday surpassed the earlier numbers by 2.3%.

It is worth noting that the data from Shopify and Adobe focused on net spending without specifying the quantity of goods sold. Without that specific number, the increase in spending from 2021 to 2022 could be attributed to the global rise in inflation in 2022.

Thanksgiving has always been a hotspot for mobile sales. I have often seen people scouting for deals from their cosy den or even seated at the dining table, eagerly awaiting that turkey to arrive. Mobile commerce took the lead, accounting for 63% of all online retail sales during the weekend last year.

Interestingly, while mobile devices were ahead regarding web traffic and sales percentage share, desktop computers had a higher Average Order Value (AOV) at $126.08 than mobile at $99.62.

The data hints at a preference for desktops when it comes to higher-priced items. It is about striking a balance between mobile and desktop eCommerce. Understanding how your audience utilises each platform and considering the cost of your products will play a crucial role.

Although eCommerce spending has technically increased, it is important to note that a significant part of this upsurge is driven by inflation. This highlights the need for brands to keep emphasising the value of their products.

Lastly, brands should delve into what motivates customers to open their wallets and be ready to adapt pricing and promotions accordingly. Ensuring you meet your customer's needs and expectations is the name of the game.

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