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A look back at BFCM 2020 and predictions for BFCM 2021

A look back at BFCM 2020 and predictions for BFCM 2021

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One of the most awaited shopping holidays of the year is coming so close. How are you preparing for BFCM campaigns?

The recap of BFCM 2020 will give you more insights into how the pandemic affected us, and how businesses adapted and customers responded so you can have better preparation for this year. Also, we suggest what trends are likely to stay at this year’s shopping events. Keep reading in order not to miss experts' predictions and advice on BFCM 2021.

What you need to know about BFCM

Black Friday & Cyber Monday (BFCM) is one of the biggest shopping events of the year that begins on the Friday after Thanksgiving and lasts until Monday. This year, BFCM falls on November 26th - 29th. 

Looking back to its history, this informal event became the start of the Christmas shopping season in the U.S. in the 1960s as people skipped work to visit stores. Retail businesses started adopting this custom in the early 1980s as they realized the financial benefits of this annual shopping event. Then, it quickly spread throughout the globe and has become popular with shopping fans. 

bfcm in apple store

Black Friday shoppers at Apple Store (Source: TapScape)

The "Cyber Monday" term was introduced later by the National Retail Federation (NRF) in 2005, referring to the surge of online sales the Monday after Thanksgiving and promoting e-businesses among Black Friday deal hunters. At present, online shopping is witnessing exceptional success, hitting $211.70 billion in the second quarter of 2021, up 9.3% from $193.62 billion in the same period last year.

Recap of BFCM 2020

Overall performance of BFCM 2020

Cyber Week 2020, counted as five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, witnessed massive total spending of $34.4 billion, increasing by 20.7% year on year and breaking all previous e-commerce records. 

The US is the largest market for BFCM deals. Due to the COVID-19 concerns, the purchasing power of Americans for this sales season got larger and larger. The exact dates of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday accounted for the majority of total spending over the five-day period.

Black Friday 2020’s online sales in the US surged by 21.6% YoY to $9 billion. On average, each American consumer spent $27.50 on online shopping on that day. Notably, $3.6 billion came from shopping via mobile commerce, increasing by 25.3% YoY, making up 40% of the total online spending.

Black Friday 2020 was also recorded as the second-largest online shopping day in American history, just behind Cyber Monday a few days later. Cyber Monday 2020 became the largest digital sales day to date with $10.8 billion revenue, a YoY growth of 15.1%, beating last year’s record of $9.4 billion. 

Consumers spent $2.7 billion during the “golden hours of retail”, or 7 PM - 11 PM PT alone, constituting a quarter of the day’s spending. Meanwhile, the peak hour reached a purchasing rate of $12 million per minute between 8 PM - 9 PM PT.

BFCM spending in 2019 and 2020

Customers’ spending on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the last 2 years.

If we look at the whole shopping season from November to Cyber Monday, the online shopping sales soared by 27.7% YoY to reach $106.5 billion.

Traffic and conversion rates

Black Friday proved to be a busy e-commerce day for North America, with e-store visits and online conversion rates up 14% and 2%, respectively, but the average order value was down 11% from the beginning of the shopping period. This downward trend can be explained by a huge amount of discounts. So, in general, Black Friday 2020 reflected the willingness of American consumers to engage in their favorite holiday sales.

Trending products

During BFCM, the categories with the boldest discounts were computers, electronics, appliances, sporting goods, and toys.

The pandemic and lockdown also affected the products consumers purchased during the holiday. The sectors with the highest increase in online store sales were pet supplies, home and garden, food and beverages. Meanwhile, the online sales of fashion and accessories decreased by 4%. This could be explained by consumers focusing more on other more necessary items whilst shopping or spending most of their time at home just lowered their interest in fashion.

Increase in online sales of sectors

Increase in online store sales of sectors during Black Friday 2020 compared to the beginning of the shopping period (Source: Nosto)

Home and garden products, pet supplies, food and beverage also experienced a noticeable increase in traffic. 

BFCM Summary for Shopify Merchants

Despite unexpected lockdowns and worldwide economic difficulties, 2020 BFCM campaigns were the most successful for Shopify store owners than ever before. The total sales made by Shopify merchants during BFCM week in 2020 reached $5.1 billion globally, a massive increase of 76% compared to the previous year. 

Prediction and trends for BFCM 2021

BFCM 2021 will be bigger than ever!

It’s no doubt that BFCM is on its way to become the largest shopping event of the year. BFCM 2021 is also expected to become bigger than ever, breaking the current e-commerce records. The effect of the pandemic has led to a considerable shift in shopping behavior with more and more consumers choosing to shop online. 

After the pandemic outbreak, 75% of surveyed consumers expect to maintain or increase their online shopping. The sales from online retailers increased by 93% in 2020 and the growth of e-commerce was more than 3 times quicker compared to 2019. It is worth looking forward to massive growth for online retailers this year. 

BFCM 2021 will come earlier as in 2020.

With nearly a third of shopaholics saying they will start shopping earlier compared to last year, deals are expected to begin earlier and last even after Cyber Monday. So, don’t miss the chance of creating campaigns to attract the early birds.

Customers’ digital shopping expectations will be higher.

The complicated ongoing of the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of the new Delta variant will cement customer need for an online experience.

Immersive videos, online tutorials, and “Try it on now” experience with Augmented Reality (AR) technology are among the many ways brands create a virtual shopping experience and engage with their customers. 

Over 100 million customers used AR to shop in 2020, so don’t hesitate to take action. For example, over the past years’ Black Friday, Amazon released an AR app allowing customers to pick a product - like appliances and furniture - and experience how it fits their living spaces. They can also see these products in a full 360 degree view. 

amazon AR technology

Customers can see how a product will look when it is put in their living space, thanks to the technology. (Source: VR Focus)

From the data of BFCM 2020, here are several outstanding trends that are likely to stay in this year’s event:

Email is the top-converting marketing channel 

Conversion rate is an indispensable metric for your business to monitor the growth of your campaign. And the marketing channels also often significantly impact conversions and later, shopping behaviors.

Below is the data of which traffic sources perform the best during BFCM. It will suggest which important sources store owners should consider to have qualified traffic. 

top converting channels shopify bfcm

BFCM referrers by conversion rates (Source: Shopify)

Email and organic search have long-term staying power. On the other hand, social commerce, despite having a lower conversion rate, can provide short-term awareness and sales increases. Shopify also points out that this data is consistent compared to the past year. 

Therefore, rest assured that online marketing still remains relevant and will be beneficial during this BFCM week.

Real-time live chat is of great help

Tailored communication is highly appreciated in e-commerce due to the increased need for personalized customer service. Real-time live chat that provides quick and instant support is one of the most effective ways to connect and engage with customers. 

A website with live chat helps to increase your conversion by 12%, and customers who engage with brands through live chat are 2.8 times more likely to convert than those who do not.

44% of consumers find it very important to have their questions answered by a live person in the middle of shopping, and 63% would likely return to a website that offers live chat. Two-thirds also expect to receive responses from online merchandisers within 10 minutes. 

The faster sellers respond to customers’ inquiries, the more likely they are to close a deal. 

Besides an active customer support team, chatbots are a powerful assistant to answer customers’ FAQs. The majority of questions coming from customers are repetitive and simple, especially for online businesses. These questions are typically about the shipping time and costs, guarantee policy, or company address. As a result, you can invest in a chatbot solution to reduce the workload for the customer service team during the peak of the sales season.

chatbot helps to upsell for bfcm

A well-designed chatbot with an intuitive UX should be able to rapidly direct users to the essential information in the chatbot's area (Source: HP)

The checkout process should be faster and smoother

When customers are inclined to buy and have a strong sense of urgency, they'll be rushing to complete their purchases. However, not everyone stays until the end of the purchase. 

The average global cart abandonment rate is 70%. More than 20% of shoppers abandon their carts due to the long and troublesome checkout process. Furthermore, 53% would desert it if they have to wait longer than three seconds for your site to load. 

Therefore, it’s better to optimize the checkout process to keep customers excited while they are shopping. Minimize the number of steps and forms in the checkout flow and include only what is absolutely necessary to complete the transaction. An ideal checkout should include only 7 – 8 form fields, only half of the average checkout currently (14.88 form elements), according to Baymard. 

optimize checkout process to increase bfcm conversions

A minimal checkout page is a good idea to retain customers until the end of the purchase (Source: Eugene Lazarev)

Cross-border selling is on the rise

Holiday deals are becoming globally important. Opening your business to the global marketplace may sound challenging but it’s definitely promising. During the BFCM weekend last year, 14% of purchases from Shopify stores were orders from a different country. Shopify store owners will continue to expand their potential markets, bringing their offerings to more countries and regions this year.

If you are still worried about the complexity of cross-border selling, you’ll be pleased to know that Shopify supports small and medium businesses to succeed on a global scale. 

SEE MORE: Boost has come to Germany

Omnichannel shopping experience goes along with product discovery

Obviously, brands are making the most use of various platforms to approach customers to lead the BFCM race. Brands that apply an effective omnichannel tactic with engaging content gain a 10% increase in YoY growth. It allows customers to have a seamless, personalized shopping experience, along with more control over their purchasing journey.

In the U.S., mobile social media penetration surpassed 60%, according to the data of February 2021. Over 60% of consumers first discover a new product or brand through their smartphones. 

The dominant well-targeted ads are on social channels, including Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. 66% of weekly Facebook users in the U.S. find a new brand or product online on the Facebook platform, including Instagram. 

Besides, TikTok is becoming a special area in commerce because half of the users are Gen Z and this platform produces the most viral trends and campaigns on social media. It’s never too late to leverage TikTok to promote your deals with the most creative Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing ideas.

walmart tiktok campaign for bfcm

Walmart launched the #UnwrapTheDeals campaign, encouraging users to record TikTok videos with special effects to reveal what they should shop for at Walmart on Black Friday. The campaign also has the attendance of influencers and gained over 4 billion views. (Source: Vop)

There is a fact that more than half of global shoppers find it interesting when they discover a whole new brand they had not actively searched for. This is called discovery commerce, intended to meet specific needs of consumers, and let them browse the store without the intention of buying until the perfect product catches their eyes.

To drive BFCM conversions, it is essential to target your audience on the right platform, produce relevant content, and create a seamless shopping experience that leads them to the purchase. 

To sum up

Despite the epidemic that pushed many businesses to close, the e-commerce industry has proven to be resilient. We even expect the 2020 record of BFCM to be broken this year! In the sea of brands striving to win customer’s hearts, you need to build an outstanding campaign with creative Black Friday marketing ideas.

SEE MORE: Guidelines to Building a Successful BFCM Campaign in the New Normal

Wish you a successful BFCM campaign!

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Harvey Nguyen
Social Media Marketer
Harvey is a social media marketing specialist at Boost Commerce. Connect with him via LinkedIn
Harvey is a social media marketing specialist at Boost Commerce. Connect with him via LinkedIn