The days following Thanksgiving in the United States are the start to the biggest shopping period of the year for many retailers. The jewels within that lucrative buying-period crown? Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
More than 151 million people shopped either in stores and/or online over Black Friday weekend in 2015. Cyber Monday hit a $3 billion sales record, up 16 percent from 2014, with an average sale of $123.43.
Considering those numbers, it would be a serious mistake for retailers to not prepare themselves for these shopping holidays. And with competition for shoppers increasing every year, retailers must bring their top-tier strategies to the front lines.
As the kickoffs to the holiday shopping season, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a critical time for most retailers. It's definitely in a retailer's best interest to examine past trends and create the best strategies to leverage these potentially monumental two days.
The Growth of Mobile
2016 is the year for mobile sales. Looking back at last year, mobile shopping set a record with a 34 percent share of Black Friday sales, accounting for an incredible $900 million in sales. On Cyber Monday, mobile sales totaled $838 million. That's a significant increase from the $548 million in realized mobile sales in 2014.
And those numbers are only going to rise. In fact, a Gartner press release issued earlier this year reported that "global sales of smartphones to end users totaled 349 million units in the first quarter of 2016, a 3.9 percent increase over the same period in 2015 ... Smartphone sales represented 78 percent of total mobile phone sales in the first quarter of 2016.”
More people than ever have smartphones, and they're using them to shop. More specifically, they're using them to shop during the holidays. Therefore, the holidays are a great time to optimize websites to be as mobile-responsive as possible, and to offer digital discounts or promotions online or through apps.
Consumers start to spend a great deal more attention to retail advertising around the holiday season, often on their mobile devices. If a brand is looking to offer a doorbuster deal or a flash sale on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, the ad must be optimized for mobile.
Given how mobile-savvy today’s customers are, retailers may consider integrating advertising into social media strategies. If a customer is following a brand’s social channels, that's a great opportunity for the brand to advertise upcoming deals and sales. Marketing teams can also use mobile apps and social channels, like Twitter, to solve any customer service issues that may arise during Black Friday or Cyber Monday. With an influx of customers, there's likely to be an influx of complaints. Better to nip those quickly and keep the customer happily shopping.
The weeks and months before Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a great time to revisit, and even update, omnichannel marketing strategies. A retailer’s email, mobile, social media and in-store experiences must be cohesive to comprise a great customer experience. For example, connect in-store promotions to mobile content for those shoppers checking their phones for deals on in-store merchandise.
This cohesive strategy is particularly important when a consumer is showrooming — i.e., visiting a store to look at products only to purchase the products at a lower price online. However, if there's an in-store promotion, as mentioned above, the consumer may be much more likely to purchase while in the brick-and-mortar location.
Consumers may also research online prior to going to a store for a final evaluation, a behavior called “webrooming.” By offering a unified customer experience throughout online and in-store channels, retailers can take advantage of both behaviors, resulting in the best deals for the customer and sales for the brand.
With the explosive growth of the mobile retail market, there's no shortage of creative ways retailers can leverage Black Friday and Cyber Monday to highlight their brands. Hopefully they'll create an experience that will keep customers coming back throughout the year.
Jim MacKay is marketing director for Fortegra Financial Corporation, a single-source insurance services provider that offers a range of consumer protection options.