Peak Season in the year of uncertainty: is your eCommerce brand ready

Black Friday & Cyber Monday

What can we expect from Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holidays this year?

That’s the exact question we’re aiming to answer in our latest ebook, ‘Peak sale season 2020: 10 ecommerce trends to shape your trading season’.

True, this year has brought some incredible highs in ecommerce — PayPal scored 7.4 million new users in April alone — but it’s delivered some worrying lows, too. Not every retail business will have seen record activity during the pandemic, but the peak season provides a valuable opportunity to re-engage and win back sales.

With adaptability being the name of the game for 2020, how ready is your ecommerce brand to move and flex alongside peak season customer demand? And, more importantly, what do we think we can expect in the last few months of this unpredictable year?

In this post, we outline 3 things we know we know — and 3 things we think we know — about how ecommerce sales will pan out this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Black Friday and Beyond 2020: what’s looking pretty certain?

Based on recent surveys and market activity, it feels safe to say that:

  • Sales are starting earlier (and will go on for longer, too)
  • Live Commerce will play an important role
  • Omni-channel discount hunting will be a common customer behavior — making mobile a key platform for all brands to consider

Black Friday has become a massive promotional event across the world. China has its own version (Single’s Day) and last year Black Friday surpassed all digital retail records, netting $20 billion in global sales.

Hungry to see some of that same impact this year, retailers are bringing deals to customers earlier than ever before. By extending and prolonging the promotional period, retailers from all sectors have a greater chance to secure the sales they need to either end the year as strong as previous quarters, or to help make up for lost sales during the pandemic.

To do so, brands are going to get creative with their marketing events. Following commercial success in the East, we’re expecting to see many more Western retailers utilizing Live Commerce platforms to reach shoppers in the comfort of their own home. But what is Live Commerce exactly?


Live Commerce sits at the intersection of product demos, influencer marketing, and user-generated video content. In China, it’s led by “key opinion leaders” (KOLs) and the live-streamed broadcasts feature product explanations, unboxing events, and interviews (where possible with social distancing, of course). As the content is hosted live online, customer engagement goes through the roof — there’s a time-bound nature to some offers, too, encouraging shoppers to buy now or risk missing out.

The rise of Live Commerce dovetails nicely with the third trend we’re banking on for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2020: mobile. Shoppers have been increasing their use of mobile channels for years. But this season, brands need their mobile experience to be fully optimized and ready for action.

So what does a mobile-optimized shopping experience look like?

At the very least, it comes down to:

  • Simple, seamless mobile checkouts — cart abandonment rate will be high if mobile shoppers have to work hard to complete transactions, even during big promotions
  • Fast load times — if your ecommerce brand rolls out flash sale discounts, your mobile site had better be prepared to handle surges in traffic and activity
  • Shopping experiences designed to shine on a smaller canvas — mobile can no longer be a second-thought in your ecommerce site design. Ask yourself: how will that dress look when scaled down to a tiny thumbnail? How long do shoppers need to scroll to find a product’s price? (Spoiler: they shouldn’t have to at all)

What could we expect to see in this peak sale season?

On a macro level, we’re expecting this year’s peak trading season to feature more innovation than previous years. Answering customer needs in a world still shaped by “shelter in place”, ecommerce business models will need to move in new directions to make shopping as safe, easy and engaging as possible.

To that end, there’s a good chance we’ll see:

  • Increased innovation around delivery (curbside drop off and pick-up, and possibly even drones)
  • Greater uptake of “buy now, pay later” schemes, like Klarna and Clearpay
  • Fewer customers returning goods bought during peak season and earlier in the year

If there’s one word to sum up what shoppers want and need from ecommerce this season, it’s flexibility. A range of delivery choices, including fast and free next day, and socially-distanced interactions wherever possible. Scope to get what they want right away, and pay for the goods over time. And extended returns windows (even if they don’t use them).

Are you ready for whatever the season brings?

Cyber Weekend is a crucial moment in the ecommerce calendar and this year is no exception. Yes, 2020’s promotional planning will have been different. And customers will have new and evolving needs we’ll need to answer. But one thing is for sure: your website needs to be up to the challenge.

UserReplay monitors your customers’ on-site experience in real-time — identifying moments of individual struggle before they amount to widespread lost sales. And because we know time is of the essence, we’ll even send an automatic notification to the team member who’s responsible for that web page in your organization. There’s no missed messages and no lag in responding to on-site issues — just improved conversion rates this peak season and beyond.

Book your UserReplay demo today, and we’ll be by your side through Black Friday and Cyber Monday, too. And don’t forget to download our free ebook, ‘Peak sale season 2020: 10 ecommerce trends to shape your trading season’ by clicking here.

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