What will ‘Black Friday’ look like amidst a pandemic?



Black Friday is a phenomenon like no other. It’s where our hard-earned money finds salvation. Marking the official commencement of the festive season, Black Friday is when our year-long wait to finally purchase that one electronic gadget at the cheapest rates possible comes to an end.

Be it an iPhone upgrade, a smart television, a gaming console, or a microwave oven, most of us wait until this day to purchase as this is the time our wallets don’t take an official beating.

The fanfare is so interesting that you could call Black Friday the Freddie Mercury of shopping. People flocking in lines hours or even a day before the d-day and getting all excited about finally getting hands-on with their gadgets or product are sights to behold.

The major characteristic –or let’s call it an attribute of Black Friday– is the way people gather outside stores. The lines are pretty huge and everyone is crammed up to make their way into stores. Malls are usually full and there’s always a group gathered everywhere.

Black Friday has always been like this. But this year, it certainly seems questionable and uncertain.

The COVID-19 effect

Scott Rankin, KPMG US’ principal and national consumer and retail strategy leader, shared that he doesn’t envision any of these happening this year.

Also Read: Is COVID-19 the catalyst B2B e-commerce companies needed?

With the world crippling with the COVID-19 situation, things have changed drastically. A dystopian scenario has already kicked in with people staying inside unwilling to step outside. And even those who do are seen wearing a mask.

This is not how the world used to be. There would be crowds everywhere. From restaurants and cinema halls to malls and retail stores, you would always see people. But with the onset of coronavirus, the gathering has become something distant.

With the contagion numbers showing no signs of curtailment and with the development of a vaccine seeming a time-consuming affair, people wouldn’t want to step out to get anything unless and until they are groceries and essentials that need to be procured.

When there is no crowd at the store, there would be no purchases as well. And storekeepers are definitely anticipating this. Stores wouldn’t dare to stock in their inventory hoping people would miraculously storm in. That’s very risky.

So, what about Black Friday this year?

Is it officially dead?

The answer is e-commerce

E-commerce and its ally – the on-demand economy – have been a boon for mankind. During this global pandemic, they have turned out to be the only reliable entities in the world. They prevent us from stepping out and at the same time, deliver what we want, where we want.

Thanks to these, this year’s Black Friday still seems promising and hopeful and all that storekeepers and offline businesses have to do is take their stores online.

Also Read: Is COVID-19 the catalyst B2B e-commerce companies needed?

And this is not a wild theory or a statement under the assumption to lure businesses into e-commerce app development. Studies and statistics have clearly shown the impact of e-commerce on Black Friday.

  • According to Adobe Holiday Shopping Report, the Black Friday online sales in 2019 numbered to US$7.4 billion. This number is US$1.2 billion more than its previous year.
  • Last year, around 58 per cent of the online traffic during Black Friday came from smartphones. Tablets accounted for just five per cent and desktops accounted for 37 per cent.
  • Out of this, close to 36 per cent of the sales were completed on mobiles and 59 per cent of the sales were completed on desktops. This further pushes the need for e-commerce app development or e-commerce website development.
  • The same report also shares that traffic redirected from social media have increased from four per cent in the year 2016 to 11 per cent in the year 2019.
  • Not just that. With the rise of Instagram, what has equally grown is the concept of influencers. With a steady following, Instagram celebrities today significantly influence our shopping and purchasing behaviour.
  • According to Adobe Holiday Shopping Report, over 20 per cent of the overall consumers have made a purchase after being recommended by an online celebrity or an influencer.

If the above-shared numbers matter, imagine that this is from an era before COVID-19, where people still had the option to step outside and shop their hearts (and wallets) out.

In the US, e-commerce sales grew by 49 per cent during the month of April when the pandemic started to become more serious. While the sales of electronics grew by 58 per cent, the sales of groceries increased by 110 per cent.

The new normal

With people getting a taste of the on-demand economy, e-commerce is finally attaining the new normal status. At the same time, one should also acknowledge the steps and initiatives taken by e-commerce companies in ensuring a safe and hygienic delivery mechanism.

  • Delivery agents are being checked for temperatures and symptoms
  • they are perpetually masked during their shift hours
  • They have their vehicles sanitised
  • And they even follow a contactless delivery process.

Also read: 10 ways to get a customer to buy from your e-commerce site

Is your business e-commerce ready?

If these numbers don’t entice you to take your business online, understand that e-commerce offers more convenience in terms of wholesome shopping experience.

With an e-commerce website or an app, you can –

  • Understand the behaviour of your individual users and personalise selling and sales
  • Offer personalised discounts and deals when they abandon carts or don’t purchase anything in a while
  • Consistently engage and interact with them
  • Announce new products and availability of them
  • Run giveaways and build a brand around your niche
  • Optimise customer retention and do more

When you have an e-commerce platform (desktop or mobile), you could run your own Black Tuesday or Black Sunday. The point is, e-commerce platforms are revolutionising industries and they give you authority over your business and sales.

With the unfortunate onset of the pandemic, an optimistic side is the alternatives we have in our hands thanks to technology. One wise move today can reshape our future.

We have given you the facts, statistics, and opinions and it is up to you to decide how you would want the remaining year for your business to be.

Good luck and here’s to a safer and healthier year!

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Image credit: Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

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