Online Shopping Reigns Supreme on Black Friday

Online Shopping Reigns Supreme During Black Friday

When Thanksgiving rolled around last month, people were looking forward to spending time with family, eating massive quantities of delicious food and, soon thereafter, going shopping. By this point, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are fully established traditions, and are absolutely critical for countless retailers’ bottom lines.  

But Black Friday and Cyber Monday are changing in several key ways. Perhaps the single most significant and eye-opening result from this year’s shopping frenzy: Black Friday isn’t just for in-store shopping any more. In fact, a survey from the National Retail Federation found that more people shopped online on Black Friday than visited physical stores. This and other figures serve to highlight just how big a force eCommerce has become, and how important it is for retailers of all kinds to fully prepare for this trend to accelerate.

A shifting persepective on Black Friday 

The NRF previously conducted a survey in mid-November in an effort to predict consumers’ Black Friday shopping habits. That research suggested that about 136 million people would shop during the Thanksgiving weekend, CNBC reported.

However, the more recent survey, based on interviews with more than 4,000 consumers, revealed this to be far too low a figure. Instead, the NRF found that 151 million consumers made either physical or online purchases during this time period. On average, shoppers spent almost $300 each.  

More importantly, the survey revealed that approximately 42 percent of shoppers went online for deals. Extrapolated, this suggests that 103 million people shopped online during Thanksgiving weekend, as compared to the 102 million who shopped in physical stores. 

“It is clear that the age-old holiday tradition of heading out to stores with family and friends is now equally matched in the new tradition of looking online for holiday savings opportunities,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the NRF.

CNBC noted that a big part of this trend is the fact that a growing number of consumers seem to be shifting toward mobile eCommerce. According to ShopperTrak, this is partially due to people wanting to avoid the “social stigma” affiliated with shopping on Black Friday.  

Altogether, the source found that Thanksgiving and Black Friday combined to deliver $12.1 billion in sales, the source reported.

Taking advantage of holiday online shopping 

Given these figures, it’s easy to see that that consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with and enthusiastic about online shopping. In light of this trend, eCommerce companies need to put themselves into a position to take advantage of the growing prevalence of online shopping, both throughout the year and, particularly, during Thanksgiving weekend.  

So what steps should online retailers take in this capacity?  

Business.com contributor Eli Schwartz shined some light on this issue. Schwartz recently conducted a survey examining consumers’ attitudes toward online shopping, both during the holidays and beyond. Thirty-four percent of respondents indicated that they planned to conduct more than half of their holiday shopping through online channels, with only 29 percent suggesting they will do 10 percent or less of their shopping online.  

The survey found that, unsurprisingly, pricing was the most important factor for online shoppers, cited by 47 percent of respondents. Yet nearly as many zeroed in on free shipping as their most important consideration, Schwartz reported, while small percentages cited free return shipping, the ability to return products to physical stores and 24/7 customer support as their most important priorities.

All of this indicates that eCommerce firms need to make their shipping capabilities and options a priority if they want to benefit from the shift toward online shopping. To this end, it’s imperative for firms to choose an eCommerce platform that offers a wide range of shipping possibilities and is fully optimized for mobile shoppers. 

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