Now that the dust has settled on Black Friday, it’s time to look back and examine how the much-anticipated sales event turned out for digital brands. 

With the pandemic restrictions continuing to impact shopper behaviour, it’s important to consider how brands can make the most of the final few weeks of 2020.

The lead up 

Amazon Prime day arrived in October this year, considerably later than its normal July date. The later timing helped get the ball rolling for the festive shopping period, with Black Friday starting earlier than ever. Black Tag events from the likes of Currys PC World were spotted as early as November 10th and encouraged the public to embrace the urgent shopper mindset associated with grabbing a bargain earlier than ever.

These events also coincided with a new national lockdown. The reality of ‘non-essential’ shops being closed meant gift shopping had to happen online for the beginning of the festive period. With reliable online shopping a necessity and early deals generating consumer interest, Amazon announced it experienced its biggest shopping season ever.

Amazon’s Black Friday

Knowing that consumers would be increasingly browsing and interacting with online outlets this year, Amazon committed over $100,000 to help small and medium businesses reach their audiences. Often accused of promoting its own products over other brand names, Amazon helped more than 100,000 businesses reach over $100,000 in sales during the day of Black Friday, generating over $4.8 billion in worldwide sales for these brands. The results Amazon has produced this year show sales growing over 60% YOY, with other large online sites having similar bumper years.

What does this mean for peak season?

This year’s Black Friday results will have a profound effect on how businesses choose to promote products, both in the UK and abroad.

Brands that have been in the enviable position of being able to provide customers with a click and collect service in their outlets have seen better results for Black Friday than usual. But what will this mean for digital offerings going forward, and how will this affect bricks and mortar stores?

Brands that can’t rely on services like click and collect have suffered over the last few months, with the likes of Arcadia and Debenhams both going into administration. These brands heavily relied on high street footfall and have simply been left behind this year. The correlation is clear, those with a suitable and robust digital offering are better suited to be agile and survive the unexpected. Businesses haven’t been able to rely on the best high street location or even a loyal customer base this year. Online shopping allows us to find products in a sterile environment, where the best deals and products will win. Being able to provide customers with a digital experience which is efficient, offers what they want at the price they want has been shown to be the winner this year, and should be expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

For brands that have under-performed this season, a new approach is urgently needed. Although non-essential retailers will be allowed to remain open for up to 24 hours, taking advantage of the tier regulations, or hoping we may evade another lockdown is not enough. They need to find ways to reach their customers where they feel comfortable shopping – which is likely to be online. Redoubling efforts across all channels will be required to salvage what is possible from this period.

Black Friday is for most retailers the most important sales day of the year. However, with a few weeks of shopping days left until Christmas, brands still have the opportunity to make the most out of the new digital revolution and expand their digital offerings.

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