Black Friday - What’s In and What’s Out?

  • Strategy
  • October 2, 2022
  • by Freyja Wedderkop

Black Friday/ Cyber Monday is almost upon us, and if the past few years are anything to go by, there will be successes and losses across the board. Using Nosto’s 2021 report and data from across the industry, we’ve put together our predictions for this sales season.

By consumer behavior

Mobile vs. Desktop 

Shopping on mobile as the first preference shows no signs of slowing down. 

Pre-pandemic, using mobile for browsing the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales was the way forward. Yet, most customers veered off when it came to purchasing. Instead, opting for desktop to order products found via mobile (58% of BFCM traffic was Mobile, and 37% Desktop, 36% of BFCM purchases were made on Mobile compared to 59% of purchases on Desktop*). 

Fast forward to Black Friday 2021, and it seems with merchants improving the User Experience on mobile, desktop has almost fallen off the map. For example, Nosto reported their clients saw only 31% of visits to desktop vs. 69% on mobile and 53% of sales on mobile vs. 47% on desktop*. Shopify reported similar data, with 71% of BFCM purchases made through mobile compared to 29% on desktop. 

This year we expect similar, if not more, stark differences between mobile and desktop, with mobile coming out on top. 

Browsing vs. Straight to cart 

It’s not uncommon for consumers to research Black Friday deals ahead of the highly anticipated weekend. Most tend to know what they’re spending their money on, where’s the best place to get it, and occasionally have the item pre-saved in their favorites to avoid endless scrolling.

We saw this more than ever in 2021 when Nosto reported a 9% decrease in the average number of pages viewed by users and a 7% decrease in the average time spent on a page*. In comparison, the add-to-cart rate over the 2021 Black Friday weekend was 14.5%, indicating users spent less time looking through deals and products and instead purchased only what they had intended. 

This year, we expect straight-to-cart to be the go-to behavior over the sales weekend, with an even greater reduction in time spent on page. So, to boost AOV, features like “complete the outfit” and easy add-to-cart or bundle discounts at the checkout will favor highly.

BNPL vs. Traditional payment options 

BNPL and traditional payment options are in this Black Friday/ Cyber Monday. 

In 2022 more retailers are making BNPL a priority for their e-commerce stores, offering greater diversity in payment options for their customers and making the method more accessible. So, despite alternative payment options like Paypal, Google, and Apple pay, and credit/debit cards coming out on top this year for preferred payment methods, we still expect BNPL options to be extremely popular for BF/CM. 

In fact, in their Black Friday report for 2022, 71% of LoyaltyLion’s polled audience** said they would shop for the cheapest option over the sales weekend. Therefore, if you’re a retailer with a plethora of BNPL options that will help your customers spread the cost of an item - you already have the edge over competitors. 

Tip -  providing a breakdown of costs on your checkout page will also help customers feel more confident making purchases. Get more on BNPL in our article dedicated to the topic. 

Social commerce vs. e-commerce

Direct and organic traffic is in, but social commerce won’t be far behind.

In 2021, sales generated by social media integrations on Black Friday/Cyber Monday almost tripled compared to 2020 - and we expect another dramatic increase in BFCM 2022. 

Social commerce has firmly established itself as one of the most popular traffic sources for purchases this year, with e-com platforms like Shopify investing in integrations with Tiktok, Twitter, and Youtube on top of their existing Facebook and Instagram shopping options for merchants. So, it wouldn’t be surprising if merchants saw a stream of sales coming from their social media integrations this sales season. 

As for e-commerce, it’s still the most dominant purchase channel globally over the BFCM weekend. In 2021 9 out of 10 shoppers planned to shop via e-commerce for their BFCM deals (Statista). And, in the UK, an overwhelming 83% prefer e-commerce over the BFCM weekend rather than the 17% choosing to shop in-store (Statista) – more on brick-and-mortar vs. e-commerce later on. 

Popular features

Bundling 

Bundling will play a huge part in boosting AOV over the Black Friday weekend, with more merchants utilizing and reaping the benefits of this e-com practice throughout 2022. Even third parties are taking note, with apps like Recharge, previously known for subscriptions only, getting in on the action by offering bundling subscriptions. 

Bundling will be a great option for all verticals this Black Friday and something we expect to dominate. To understand how to incorporate bundling into your e-commerce strategy, check out our article on the topic.

Subscriptions

Subscriptions were a popular choice for the Black Friday sales last year. Streaming giants and emerging brands, like Wild Deodorant, offered customers discounts on subscriptions for their Black Friday deals -  a clever choice if your goal is to retain customers post the sales season and into 2023. 

This year we expect an even greater number of brands offering this, particularly as the boom of e-commerce brought on by the pandemic is settling down; it’s more important than ever for brands to focus on CLV. You can read more about subscriptions here.

Note: Barclay reported a 5.9% decrease in customers opting for subscriptions and 5 out of 10 choosing to cancel their subscriptions, so don’t rely too heavily on this over BFCM. 

By BFCM trends

Cyber Monday vs. Black Friday 

Over the past two years, Cyber Monday has grown in popularity compared to Black Friday. In 2021, despite reductions in Black Friday and Cyber Monday traffic, Cyber Monday won out, although marginally:

  • Cyber Monday had a 6% decrease in traffic vs. Black Friday’s 8% decrease*

  • Cyber Monday experienced a 12% increase in AOV vs. Black Friday’s 11% AOV increase*

While shops are back open following the end of lockdown restrictions, and people are resuming life as normal, the high street is still lagging. With the looming energy crisis and the rising cost of rent, it seems less viable for merchants to pay for storefronts that customers aren’t shopping in when they can set up an e-com store and reduce financial overheads for the longer term. 

It’s worth mentioning that CM saw 0.3% sales while BF scored 3%*. However, this could be due to cart abandonment and/or a lack of viable payment options for customers. Take a look at our article on BNPL solutions to understand more about how incorporating your customers preferred payment methods can mean the difference between poor and high conversions. 

US vs UK

With Black Friday originating in the US, the sales holiday is firmly established in America and remains the most popular there. Although 2021 brought a decrease in sales for the US compared to previous years (8.9 billion vs. 9 billion in 2020*), total traffic was up 0.2%, sales up 17%, and AOV up 17%*. 

Countries like the UK have adopted the Black Friday weekend. However, UK shoppers aren’t as attached to the sales. For the UK, 2020 was a great year for BFCM, with traffic up 35%, sales up 23%, and conversion rates up 2%*. However, this was in the middle of the UK lockdown, which might attribute some of this success. In 2021, firmly out of lockdown, the UK saw traffic down 11%, sales down 4%, and conversion rates down by 7%*. 

Interestingly 52% of UK customers felt like they would get bored hearing of Black Friday**. This BFCM fatigue in the UK might be behind the decrease in sales, conversions, and traffic last year. But it’s not all doom and gloom; there’s a more positive outlook on this year's sales, with 62% looking forward to the 2022 BFCM weekend and 68% waiting until BFCM to make specific purchases**.

However, with the US as the world’s top-selling country on Shopify last year, we expect no less from the Black Friday originator coming into BFCM 2022 - the US is in.

Tip: If this isn’t a perfect reason to go international, we don’t know what is - broadening your reach allows you to hone in on the holidays that specific countries celebrate, like offering targeted Black Friday deals to US customers. Check out our article on localization for more on this. 

Sustainability vs. Dramatic discounts

Last year we saw huge brands, some known for their socially conscious brand initiatives and some not, taking a stance from the usual Black Friday blanket sales. 

Some offered minimal discounts while others upped their charitable donations as an alternative to blanket discounts, and some merchants backed out altogether. Whereas, fast fashion retailers like Pretty Little Thing (PLT), who reduced products by up to 99% with some items only £1, still saw success.

Despite this, consumers are making purchasing decisions with the environmental impact in mind and so taking a sustainable approach to your BFCM decisions is worth considering.

This doesn’t mean you have to avoid BFCM completely. Last year second-hand clothing giant, Depop offered a % reduction on items sold across the site. And Goose & Gander offered a single discount ‘mystery box’, which brought record-breaking sales while limiting the need for blanket discounts. 

Ultimately while dramatic discounts will still win over some customers, we predict sustainability is very much in for BFCM 2022. So expect targeted or minimal discounts, opt-outs, and alternative charity donations in a bid for a coherent brand identity and boost in customer perception for the longer term. 

Gen z vs. Other generations

All generations will participate in BFCM in one way or another, but we’re predicting that generations older than Gen Z will make up the majority of BFCM shoppers in 2022, and here’s why… 

Gen Z 

According to data from 2021, Statista predicts Gen Z shoppers are expected to spend the least amount of money over the BFCM weekend compared to other generations. While this could be due to Gen Z having less income than their generational counterparts (aside from the silent generation), it could also be due to an overwhelming percentage preferring to buy sustainably (second-hand) than from bigger brand names. 

Moreover, of the students that will shop over the BFCM weekend, Student Beans data states 33% of students research deals in advance (26% of those almost a month before). This means they’re less likely to browse and more likely to go straight to cart. Despite the barriers to grasp the attention of this generation, they are still buying during this time, albeit differently. 

To tackle this, here are some ways to boost Gen Z spending on your store: 

  • Engage with them via social media and offer social commerce as an option for purchasing, particularly using apps like TikTok, where Gen Z makes up the majority of users. 

  • Be transparent with your sustainability focus. 

  • Prep your site for mobile first - these shoppers are the first generation to spend their entire period of growing up on their phones, so they expect an easy user experience. 

  • Promote sales ahead of time; as Student Beans suggested, Gen Z’s plan for Black Friday and share tips on where to get the best promotions, so let them know your discounts in advance. 

  • Offer a wealth of BNPL options - this goes for any generation, and we’ve mentioned this before, but we can’t stress how important it is to offer your customers multiple payment options. 

Other Generations 

Based on Statista’s 2021 BFCM data Gen X are likely to spend the most over the sales weekend, closely followed by Boomers and Millennials. Gen X tends to spend more time browsing for deals, so make the user experience as seamless as possible, offering bundles and add-ons at every step of the customer journey. Despite Gen Z's big focus on social commerce, Millennials still make up a huge chunk of TikTok users and even more on Instagram - don’t disregard the pull social commerce will have on this generation. Gen X and Boomers are Facebook users through and through, so this is the best place to promote your deals.

By vertical 

Fashion & Accessories 

Despite a decrease in sales in 2020, Fashion & Accessories came back in a big way in 2021, with:

  • online traffic up 2%*

  • sales up 3%*

  • AOV up 12%*

despite a rocky 9% decrease in conversion rates*.And it seems this upturn is continuing, with Fashion & Accessories (UK) securing an  8% annual growth in 2022. So,  if this year's current stats are anything to go by, we expect the vertical to follow a similar trend in BFCM 2022 sales. 

Health & Beauty 

Health & Beauty is continuing to soar from the boom this vertical experienced over the 2020/21 pandemic causing a rise in purchases focused on self-care and at-home beauty treatments. In 2021’s BFCM, Health & Beauty experienced online sales, conversion rates, and Average Order Value increasing by 2%, 1%, and 9%, respectively*. 

With the global cost of living crisis continuing into late 2022/2023, we expect Health & Beauty to continue this trajectory with more consumers focusing on DIY treatments and looking their best on a budget. 

Home & Garden 

Home & Garden took a downturn in popularity over the BFCM weekend in 2021, with traffic down 15% and e-commerce sales down 0.5%*. Perhaps due to life returning to normal, people leaving their homes and having less time for ‘fixer uppers’ that the pandemic allowed. But, not to be ignored, it did gain a boost in AOV of  +10% and conversion rates at +2%*. 

Based on the stats from 2021, it doesn’t look like Home & Garden will come out on top over the BFCM weekend this year. However, the energy crisis in the UK may mean consumers revert to the pandemic trends of focusing on DIY rather than spending money outside the home - one to keep an eye on. 

Pets Accessories 

Despite a massive 37% increase in online conversion rates for Pets Accessories in 2021 BFCM*, this could be attributed to the surge in pet purchases over the pandemic. And now that customers are having to tighten their straps again, we may see this vertical take a decline in 2022’s Black Friday weekend. 

A final note on the impact of the recession 

Despite the expected impact of the current cost of living crisis and the global recession following the pandemic, 67% of shoppers are, in fact, interested in the BFCM sales due to the cost of living crisis**. However, while traffic might be up for many merchants this sales season, 71% said they would shop around for the lowest price, and conversion rates and sales may take a hit**. 

Conclusion

It’s difficult to determine the volatile impact the pandemic and the current recession could have on e-commerce sales over the usual busy period. However, it’s clear that demand is still there. It’s how merchants, if opting into BFCM, address demand, meet customers' needs, and stand out from other brands that will determine those all-important conversions. With so much in the air, we’re interested to see how it all pans out over the next few months! 

If you’re already thinking about the BFCM 2023 (no – it’s not too soon), reach out to our team to boost your AOV, conversion rates, and sales this season and beyond. 

*Nosto's 2021 BFCM report

**LoyaltyLion's Black Friday Blueprint


Authors

Freyja Wedderkop

Freyja joined We Make Websites in 2021 and brought over two years of B2B marketing experience with her. She has an MSc in Marketing and specializes in digital marketing, social media and content marketing. She also has a passion for design, events and, outside of marketing, loves cooking up a storm.


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