The Black Friday/Cyber Monday Countdown

By 17th November 2017Strategy, Tech, Uncategorised

Black Friday, it’s almost here.

As brands all over the world prepare for one of the most lucrative shopping days of the year, it’s interesting to reflect on the origins of this ‘holiday’ while also holding onto the reality of what it means for our clients and how we need to be there for them to ensure that they reach their goals for the weekend.

A bit of History

In case you were unaware, the event has its origins in the USA (it’s not quite as big in the UK yet), and marks the unofficial start of the Christmas season as it’s the day after American Thanksgiving (as designated by President Lincoln back in the day). Somewhat ironically, the actual term ‘Black Friday’ was originally associated with the stock market panic back in 1869, caused by the plunging price of gold. But by the late 1960’s the phrase had come to refer to the profits a company made, or ‘being in the black,’ and by the 90’s this unofficial holiday was the biggest retail day of the year for The States. Insert the internet, and along comes Cyber Monday in 2005– this time as an intentional marketing ploy to help focus online sales.

Ironically, International Buy Nothing Day (started in the 90s) is officially held on this same day throughout North America and the UK, created to bring awareness to the problem of overconsumption. An interesting juxtaposition to a day where billions are spent in a single 24-hour period. While most brands are full participants in this glorious day of expenditure, others have set themselves apart by closing on the day, or donating 100% of the day’s proceeds to charity (such as Patagonia– last year they donated US $10 Million to causes supporting the environment.) Other brands like Jigsaw chose not to have promotions, as they were aware of increasing cynicism about the day among shoppers.

So, that brings us up to the present. And whether you (as a brand or consumer) choose to participate or not, the reality is that the holidays are coming and we have cultivated a culture that is driven towards discounts, and can’t turn down a deal.

Set-up for Success

As a digital agency, we want to enable our clients to succeed, and position them for a favourable outcome whether they choose to participate or not. This means being aware of online trends and where consumers are shopping digitally, ensuring an excellent user experience across all touchpoints, and reducing any potential areas of friction. It also means getting super practical on our side, such as enacting code freezes to safeguard against any update or change slowing a site down, understanding their targets and KPIs, and ensuring that any seasonal campaigns and promotions have undergone thorough testing.

Mobile Trends

Seamless functionality between devices is imperative, as according to Stripe while mobile devices represent 60% of browsing traffic, they only account for 15% of purchasing, and still trail desktop checkout rates by 15%. Often users will begin a purchase on one device and finish on another, or browse online and purchase in-store. These cross-device-cross-channel user habits highlight why prioritising omni-channel tracking functionality is essential. Yet keep in mind that we are working with a moving target, and this trend is changing: Mobify predicts that mobile revenue will surpass desktop within the year, which is why we design for mobile first and are always building innovation in this field. As smart technology advances with bigger screens, faster networks and an increasingly connected society, the leaders will be mobile.

Up to Speed

We have already highlighted the evolution of the Micro Moment habit users tend to have. Increasing impatient as a culture, we like our immediate gratification. So if your site is slow, users are moving on. Studies have been done linking a faster mobile site experience to increased conversion, and there are numerous ways to positively influence a user’s perception of a site’s speed while still keeping the quality of content.

Personalisation is Key

While new users may spend markedly more during this season than they normally would, Shopify notes that they also are harder to convert (possibly due to the sales emphasis as opposed to that of brand identity and loyalty). Thus an engagement strategy (for both new and returning users) is key to build rapport with both segments and foster longevity in your consumer relationships. Think about added benefits you can provide to your consumers, and ensure that you are capturing the right data to enable a personalised experience for them.

This coming holiday season of shopping and gift giving can be hectic, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Adequate preparation for site speed and mobile UX, clear communication with your clients, and a plan in place to engage consumers will help you make the most of this time of year.