Merchants Should Forget About Black Friday 2021. Here’s Why

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November 19, 2021
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Merchants Should Forget About Black Friday 2021. Here’s Why
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Black Friday ecommerce is just around the corner (Nov 26, to be precise), but you’re still feeling hectic after the Halloween sales? Don’t fret. Maybe you should skip the Black Friday 2021 overall.

Truth be told, Black Friday is in demise. It used to be this enormous splash event kicking off the holiday shopping season, with thousands of people getting up at 5 a.m. to go bargain hunting. Now, consumers have become more conscious of their shopping decisions and got a grasp of holiday sales as a “carefully engineered illusion” with inflated prices.

Black Friday is evolving into a month-long event where retailers push forward consumers to shop earlier and at a steady pace throughout the season. In fact, Ware2Go data confirms that holiday shopping is going full steam as 44% of merchants announced they’re already in peak season since September.

So don’t invest in Black Friday ecommerce strategy 2021. You’ll see an immense traffic to your website for a day and then, puff, gone. 

Instead, focus on offering a long cycle of deals beyond Black Friday. And, in this article, we’ll show you how to prepare your website for the ecommerce holiday season.

Gearing Up For End-Of-Year Sales: Is Black Friday Worth It?

The short answer is no. End of the year is so packed with events for the sales season that it’s unreasonable to focus on Black Friday only. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas — all these generate about 19 percent of annual retail sales.

Here’s why you should grab the spoon of all winter sales season rather than focus on one-day-only Black Friday sales.

Consumers Don’t Believe In It

As much as consumers are willing to fling their wallets open for luring discounts, they understand most of the Black Friday deals aren’t real. Many retailers inflate the prices long before the ecommerce holiday season starts only to make Black Friday discounts seem more impressive.

In fact, a close analysis of a shopping cart in the two months before Black Friday showed the same ten items cost a total of 18 percent more on the day itself. The study covered the most researched deals among the UK respondents.

Price difference before and on Black Friday.
Price difference before and on Black Friday. Sample data gathered from the UK respondents on the PriceSpy site. Source: Today UK News.

Merchants Experience Difficulties With the Supply Chain

Amid the continuing pandemics and supply chain disruptions, not all merchants can keep up with the soaring product demand on Black Friday 2021. Because of the massive traffic jams and labor shortages in the transportation industry, retailers face delays in item delivery and prefer to skip sales. 

Stockouts will continue to be a major issue during holidays
Stockouts will continue to be a major issue during holidays. Source: Adobe Holiday Shopping Forecast 2021

Here are a few cases in point:

  • The Basic Fun toymaker has around $8 million worth of its toys sitting in a factory in China and, thus, unable to meet the parents’ expectations to fill their kids’ wish lists.
  • Apple products, Xbox consoles, and other consumer electronics are hard to find for a global chip shortage.

Buy early. Make the decision between saving a little money or not getting the product at all. 

said Patrick Moorhead, chief executive of Moor Insights.

The Stakes Are Too High For Small Businesses

It’s difficult for small businesses to compete with the large retailers that dominate the market. The latter might allocate up to $6 billion dollars in media toward their four-day Black Friday ecommerce strategy, while the average marketing budget of a small store is no more than $400 per month. Besides, they can’t price-slash like big stores.

In fact, in 2020, many brands across Europe called their Black Friday promotion plans off altogether. For small businesses, Black Friday just means putting immense resources into something that won’t pay off.

Black Friday campaign launch plans of businesses in Europe in 2020
Black Friday campaign launch plans of businesses in Europe in 2020, by country. Source: Statista.

How to Prepare for Black Friday Ecommerce and Hack the Holiday Season

You might be down on America’s biggest shopping day but not out of the entire holiday season. You’re still on time to prepare your online store for sales, be it without the usual hustle and hassle of Black Friday. 

Here’s a checklist of six Black Friday ecommerce tips that will help you leverage the entire end-of-year ecommerce holiday season.

Check Your Website Speed to Prevent Downtimes

According to Gartner, every minute of website downtime can cost companies an average of $5,600 per minute and anywhere from $140,000 to $540,000 per hour depending on the size of the company. Imagine the losses of over fifty ecommerce brands, including Zara, H&M, and Foot Locket, which experienced site outages during Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday in 2020.

To make sure your website is ready for a holiday traffic surge, optimize your website speed:

  • Use Content Delivery Networks (CDNs).
  • Compress and optimize images.
  • Take advantage of browser caching and lazy loading.
  • Optimize CSS, JavaScript, and HTML code.

To test your store speed, try using such free tools as Google PageSpeed Insights, GTMetrix, or YSlow. Just enter your website URL to analyze its speed and identify performance bottlenecks.

Magento merchants may also find many useful insights on optimizing website speed in a related blog article.
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How to Speed Up Magento 2: Follow These 6 Easy Steps to Make Magento Blazing Fast

Look Into Hosting & Security

On Black Friday 2018, J Crew experienced a five-hour crash due to high demand, resulting in an estimated loss of over $700,000 in sales. No official apology saved the brand from furious customers.

To avoid the fate of J Crew, make sure your website runs on a scalable hosting solution, such as AWS or Google Cloud Platform. This way, you can handle traffic and sales increases during seasonal spikes.

Speed Up Your Checkout

Slow checkout is one of the primary reasons for high cart abandonment rates. And you don’t want that — neither in your Black Friday ecommerce strategy nor during the holiday sales.

Here are a few practices to streamline the checkout experience:

  • Limit checkout to one page (this should also help mobile shoppers).
  • Offer multiple payment options.
  • Allow guest checkout for non-registered users.
  • Use clean design and remove distractions.
  • Be transparent about the costs & fees.

Provide Customer-Centric Experience

Improve your website UX both design- and functionality-wise. Shoppers need to find exactly what they’re looking for in a matter of seconds.

The least you can do is to create a separate landing page with special offers and top-selling products to boost your ecommerce sales. If you’re pressed for time, redesign your homepage to shout out to your customers about the holiday sales, as Carbon38 did.

Carbon38 homepage announcing ecommerce holiday season sales.
Carbon38 homepage announcing holiday sales.

Apart from the best UX tips & tricks for product pages, you should consider the following:

  • Make your navigation more intuitive: include keywords in your menu, use breadcrumbs & autocomplete, work on advanced product filtering.
  • Present exclusive offers to boost sales: think of shopping incentives, like gift cards and vouchers, and make them visible to your target audience (insider tip: try pop-ups).
  • Prioritize fast, free delivery: reach out to your fulfillment partner to inquire about their delivery times and cost during the holiday season.
  • Personalize: make your customers feel like they’re one in a million tailoring offers & messages based on their search history.

Introduce Loyalty Programs

Black Friday ecommerce holidays are the best time to introduce a loyalty program. According to the 2021 Premium Loyalty Data Study, 49% of consumers would provide the necessary information during the checkout to join a loyalty program with the intention of remaining for the long term.

This news may have lasting repercussions for retailers. Loyalty programs will not only bring more traffic (read: customers) to your website, but also serve as a valuable source of data to make UX better and increase engagement in the future.

Marimekko loyalty program
Marimekko loyalty program with shopping perks for registered users.

Optimize for Mobile

Consumers are expected to spend more than $86B online using their smartphones. Mobile traffic and sales are immense as shoppers enjoy the convenience of browsing products from anywhere, anytime.

If you still don’t have a mobile-friendly ecommerce website, it’s high time to think about it. Not for Black Friday 2021, but for the future. Mobile-led commerce is gaining momentum, and you risk missing out on potential customers and sales opportunities.

As mobile conversion rates still lag behind the desktop ones, one of our Black Friday ecommerce tips is to optimize payment methods on mobile first. Easy mobile checkout will prevent your customers from switching to desktop to complete the purchase (and losing interest in your brand on their way).

Reduce the address and payment details only to the essential info, take advantage of a simple username and password, and integrate Apple Pay or other digital wallets in your checkout.

Roller Rabbit checkout on mobile
Roller Rabbit checkout on mobile — PayPal, AmazonPay, and ApplePay integrated.

Conclusion

You don’t need Black Friday 2021 to kick off the holiday season. Sales have started long ago, and you shouldn’t necessarily spend a fortune on marketing one day that won’t bring many sales.

Yet, you can still take advantage of the events beyond Black Friday ecommerce. Website performance optimization helps at any time. During busy periods it gives an extra advantage and brings a lasting effect of increased brand visibility and higher conversion rates.

Set your store for growth far beyond Black Friday

Make your website lightning fast and beat your competition this holiday season

Optimize website performance

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