Black Friday, the official kick-off to the holiday shopping season, is just a few weeks away. No doubt, it carries huge importance for retailers. According to the National Retail Federation, it can account for up to 30 percent of retailers’ annual sales. Clearly, it’s a costly thing to give it a miss. But with the advent of e-commerce, the breakdown of the department store, heavier discounting, and other happenings, Black Friday 2016 trends look very different from those of ten years ago.
Traditionally, Black Friday has been the cornerstone of holiday shopping. But if we look around what is actually happening, one cannot avoid coming to the conclusion that people are giving less importance to traditional Black Friday sales. The convenience that e-commerce is offering nowadays has changed everything.
In the second annual JDA Consumer Survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers conducted by JDA Software Group, Inc., nearly 3 out of 4 respondents (73 percent) say they prefer to do their holiday shopping outside of the holiday season, during e-commerce sales, such as Amazon Prime Day. In fact, 9% of US and 7% of UK shoppers stated this global shopping event is of more interest to them than Black Friday. They want to buy throughout the November month as soon as some great deal catches their attention. This new paradigm shift has been aptly put into words by the industry analyst Marshal Cohen. He said that the “‘ Black Friday effect’ is so strong that its savings are spread out throughout the entire month. I now call it ‘Black November.'”
Naturally, this Black November trend will give rise to many other changing currents. We will discuss them. But there are other trends shaping up which demand equal attention.
Though Black Friday and–more recently–Cyber Monday have been considered the crown of holiday sales, there are signs of a shift. As per the Google/Ipsos Media CT study, shoppers are starting earlier; in 2014, 61% began gift research before Halloween and 48% completed shopping by Cyber Monday. It’s a reflection of fragmented shopping behavior which is the outcome of digitalization.
Now, people can browse product categories and decide on a whim what to buy…but when to buy depends on multiple factors like needs, store vicinity, waiting for discounts and sales, and more. We can say that, in 2016, retailers will have to think about yearlong strategies to capture more of those shopping moments.
Time and again, it has been proven that customers who seek out flash-sale deals fail to deliver long-term value. According to research by Retention Science, Black Friday shoppers churn 274% faster than other customers. Frankly speaking, it’s not at all shocking. Through these sales, retailers are utilizing their customers’ current need to shop. But they don’t understand that the shopping season can be used to nurture and extend the buying habits of these shoppers beyond the holiday period.
It’s always logical to get associated with them as completely and as personally as possible instead of having a mere need-based association. Thus, we may see that retailers will start viewing their Thanksgiving customers as “holiday shoppers”, and consider this period as their first engagement with holiday shoppers. You can say that Black November is a miniature of this approach…nurture relation with customers not just on one specific day, but throughout a month, or multiple months!
One of the most common observations of ours is that nothing will drive customers more than convenience while shopping. People want to avoid the mad rush that evidently happens in stores during Black Friday. 27% of US and 25% of UK shoppers say that shopping online is easier than going to stores on Black Friday. And that’s why retailers must give an option to customers where they can select what they want to buy online and take their deliveries in stores. One must remember that taking delivery in stores is completely different that shopping in stores amidst the huge crowd. They can shop with ease and mental peace when they are sitting on their relaxing chair with a mobile or laptop in their hands. Going to the shop just to pick their delivery up is much less taxing!
Even though technology will make its mark on everything that comes under the umbrella of shopping, the human touch, especially in assisting a customer while he is in the process of shopping. is still important. Almost 70% of respondents rely on the support of in-store sales associates in some way.
It becomes particularly important during the holiday shopping. The footfall is high, inquiries and complaints keep coming. Customers usually like if there are sales assistants to give a personal and dedicated attention to them. They believe that some tips and suggestions from them might save them from buying a wrong deal. Of course, the chances of giving out a wrong information about the product when experienced sales persons are around is low.
Electronics will again reign supreme during this year’s Black Friday shopping. 55% of US and 49% of UK shoppers say that this will be a key category in which they are looking to make purchases. Laptops, mobiles, and headphones will be selling like hot cakes. After that, the clothing segment is one to watch, with 45% of US and 38% of UK shoppers showing interest.
Indeed, it’s evident from the above-mentioned trends that people are moving away from a traditional mindset and archaic ways of shopping. Any retailer who will guess that and make their holiday shopping frictionless and ease-oriented will make the most of this holiday season!
We understand how much importance holiday season has for retailers like you. And that’s why we’ve discussed millennial holiday shopping trends in our post, “What Millennial Holiday Shoppers Want.” We have also documented the biggest Holiday 2016 retail trends here. If you have a loyalty program, don’t forget to check out our 12 ideas for holiday loyalty program marketing!