Updates 26 Nov 2018: Black Friday 2018 has reached $6.22 billion in online sales, increase by 28% since last year. This is the new record for Black Friday revenue over the years, in term of online sales. The purchase behaviors have also shifted toward mobile shopping. On the other hand, brands had been putting their deals online earlier than before, from 1 month to 1 week ahead of the event date.

Black Friday is growing in scale and scope globally every year. With consumers habits gradually shifting from bricks and mortar to e-commerce, it is vital for brands and manufacturers to quickly adopt the trend and take strategic actions to increase sales and enhance brand reputation. Black Friday is a promising occasion to break sales records. It is now in the hands of brands to start the holiday season on the right foot.

Black Friday: a brief history

Black Friday’s date changes every year, but it is always the Friday after Thanksgiving. This Friday is called “black” as a reference to the ink color used in retail accounting to mark a profit (losses were recorded in red). The series of promotion days including Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday has been known as the kick-off sales events for the holiday shopping season. The biggest discount day in the US started gaining overseas popularity with the popularity of viral videos of crowds fighting at bricks and mortar stores.

Black Friday 2018 falls on 23 November. According to the National Retail Federation (2018), consumer spendings have progressed over the third quarter of 2018. It is expected that 2018 retail sales will grow by at least 4.5 percent compared to 2017. Black Friday 2018 will be the occasion for brands and manufacturers to break sales record and get rid of unwanted inventories.

A throwback #BlackFriday2017

With the rapid e-commerce growth over the years, more shoppers are doing online Black Friday shopping to avoid the crowd and the chaos. This graph from Statista (2018) examines the U.S. retail e-commerce sales revenue on holiday season between 2014 and 2017 has shown a gradual climb in e-commerce revenue from $70.15 billion in 2014 to $106.14 billion in 2017 (+51% in 4 years). Many analysts announce a figure of $123 billion for 2018, a 24.5% increase compared to 2017.

U.S. retail e-commerce holiday season sales from 2014 to 2018 (incl. Black Friday)
U.S. retail e-commerce holiday season sales from 2014 to 2018 (source: Statista, 2018). *Estimates

Here are some critical intakes from Black Friday 2017 that we have found:

  • $5.03 billion was the online sales record for Black Friday alone in 2017
  • Amazon, once again, dominated 54.9% of total market shares for e-commerce sales
  • 7.14 million online transactions on Amazon, on the Black Friday alone
  • $135 is the average online transaction value
  • Mobile shopping was huge on Black Friday 2017 and accounted for 36.9% of all sales

What brands can do on Black Friday 2018?

“Preparation is key.”

Activate your Black Friday mindset early

Last year, Amazon officially opened their Black Friday store on November 1st with plenty of offers and ad teasers. Similarly, Target held “Black Friday Preview Sale” event for Target credit card holders on Wednesday before Thanksgiving; Target claimed the sale had the most deals they had ever offered ahead of Thanksgiving.

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Big e-commerce retailers are starting the promotion programs earlier. They aim to draw buyer attention and stimulate purchase intents from the holidays until the end of the year. What brands should do during this period is to keep track of what your retailers are planning to avoid surprises.

Count-down campaign

For brands that run their own e-commerce websites, we have seen this tactic in almost every large e-commerce sites. If you are going to hold your own Black Friday promotions, consider one of these countdown tactics:

  • Count-down period for specific product categories,
  • Limited time offers on some particular products,
  • Count-down to the day that the deal is available to purchase.

The goal is to stimulate consumer psychology, creating the urge to purchase and more appreciate the offers. Additionally, teasing your discounts will help you anticipate the spike in traffic on your website and plan ahead to avoid an outage.

Spread the word on your product promotions

While seeing a significant discount slapped onto your products is not always enjoyable, helping your retailers sell your products cannot hurt. Even if your brand is not running promotions, you can still promote good deals from your trusted retailers. Use your voice to help end-customers identify the best possible deals and get their hands on your products!

Hot products in 2017 such as the PlayStation 4 Pro quickly went out of stock on Amazon because the offer had been mentioned in many articles long before the sales started. Use the tools at your disposal: newsletters, website, social media posts with links, etc.

When Black Friday starts

Keep up with stock level

It is essential to be well aware of stock availability during the promotional period like Black Friday. Brands can use e-commerce monitoring software to get real-time notifications on stock availability of their e-tailers. Stay aware of the product performance before, during and after the promotional period will allow a better understanding of sales performance.

Gather competitive intelligence

As Black Friday is rising in popularity globally, especially via e-commerce, big retailers are competing to give out the best offers. Analyzing dozens of Black Friday deals in your industry indicates which retailers and brands are doing great, and which are struggling. Use the occasion to assess the market situation and make better strategic decisions in the future!

Stay notified of consumers reviews

Online shoppers strongly rely on product reviews to make their purchase decision, especially on Black Friday, when they have less time to do the product research. Brands should react quickly to both positive and negative online reviews about their products as it is a great way to assure brands credibility towards consumers. E-commerce monitoring software such as BlueBoard allows users to set up and receive real-time notifications whenever their customers speak up!