Black Friday generated more than $7 billion in the United States alone in 2019, so it’s a huge deal for online brands. But with so much promotional activity, how do businesses get their message heard? In 2020, it’s all about innovation.
Innovating in marketing, innovation in service, and innovation in customer experience. Here’s why, and how, that’s going to play out…
Innovation, customer experience and long-term competitive advantage
Customer experience (CX) is something no business can afford to undervalue. Even a single bad experience can chase existing and prospective buyers away, costing companies big money in lost opportunities.
On the flip side, when businesses invest in customer experience, an 80% boost in revenue can be achieved. After all, more than 70% of buyers agree that a positive experience influences their purchase decisions.
That means brands have to step up, to outdo their rivals. They can’t be complacent — they have to innovate to grab shoppers’ attention and encourage them to start spending.
We’re expecting to see some market-shaping trends emerge during this year’s Black Friday events. These could transform the way in which consumers view the experience of shopping online forever — putting some ecommerce sites well ahead of their rivals as we enter the new year.
6 ways ecommerce brands will innovate during Black Friday 2020
2020 has been a year unlike any other.
How brands adapt now, to make the most of the year’s peak season for sales, may well shape what we see in 2021 and beyond. And the following 6 innovations are ones to watch:
1. Recreating the in-store experience at home
VR is no longer the stuff of sci-fi dreams. It’s here, it’s affordable, and it helps with competitive advantage.
Why? Because brands can now leverage the power of VR to deliver an in-store shopping experience for customers sitting at home.
At a time when many shoppers will avoid bricks and mortar stores — or be asked to stay away — people may miss the excitement of browsing aisles and checking out products arranged on display. Traditionally, online shopping has been shown to underperform on impulse buying. Could VR bridge the gap and encourage more spontaneous sales?
VR tech empowers businesses to immerse their customers in a 3D retail environment. Sure, so it’s not exactly the same as being in your favorite store in person and having that tactile interaction with products. We’re not quite ready to plug into The Matrix just yet.
But brands can still deliver a deeper, more satisfying service to their online customers, placing them in realistic environments without crowds or health risks.
2. A smart approach to discounting
A blanket discounting approach isn’t going to cut it in peak season 2020. That’s basically throwing things at a wall and seeing what sticks.
Tech liberates brands from this somewhat random approach and enables them to implement more tailored, segmented promotions; appealing to clear demographics and/or helping shift the products that sell.
For example, let’s say a company emails every customer in their mailing list to tell them they can save 20% on steaks.
Some might respond well to this. But what about the people who don’t like steak, or don’t eat red meat? What about vegetarians and vegans who might actually find the message off-putting?
In this case, promoting the sale is at best a waste of everyone’s time. At worst, it could actually make prospects feel undervalued by the brand — believing it has no idea who they really are.
But with segmented discounts, only shoppers with a history of shopping for steak or related foods and products would be offered the incentive. And vegetarians or vegans could be offered something entirely different, that suits their personal tastes.
This sales season, we expect to see brands employing various types of smart discounting to gain a competitive edge. Brands may offer customers a choice of extra discounts to upsell checkout, or reductions on similar products to those they’ve bought in their past if they refer a friend or relative.
Take a look at Adzooma’s Black Friday Refer A Friend Challenge:
Adzooma utilizes a tier-based system: refer a certain number of friends to earn a specific reward, e.g. 25 or more for $650 in gift cards. The rewards and requirements are clear, with a strong element of gamification to increase motivation.
3. Omnichannel or bust
A stellar omnichannel strategy delivers a seamless positive experience across a brand’s various digital channels — plus their bricks and mortar presence, too. And it works: one study found that omnichannel customers are more valuable to businesses, spending 10% more online than single-channel buyers.
And in Cyber Weekend 2020, a brand’s success will live or die in its omnichannel approach. For the reasons we explored above, more shoppers will head online (desktop and mobile) this season. And even when buyers are in a store, more than 80% will use their phones to research items before they buy.
It’s not enough to have a great desktop site — mobile-friendly design is crucial, too. And if a brand has its own app, that should align with the quality established elsewhere as well.
We’re likely to see more and more brands upping their omnichannel game to satisfy shoppers across all devices, but some will still fall behind. That’s only to be expected, sadly, with some companies failing to recognize the importance of a positive user experience across all channels. Incredibly, more than 35% of small businesses in the US still don’t have a website!
4. A gifting approach that answers user needs
Many of us won’t see our friends and relatives in person this year. Family meals may be smaller or non-existent. Gifts will be sent by mail or kept at home until it’s safe to meet face-to-face again.
That said, consumers will be buying for their loved ones. And with buying intent still high, ecommerce brands have a fantastic opportunity to merge their Black Friday deals with dedicated gifting checkout flows.
This will make it easier for their customers to buy products on behalf of their friends and family, have them gift wrapped, and sent on their way. All without exposing themselves to any Covid-related risks.
Gifting tech is nothing new in many sectors. European flower retailer, Bloom and Wild, is a masterclass in sleek website design and a smoother than smooth on-site experience.
But will we see business beyond typical gifting goods, like flowers, adopt a similar hack, too? We think so.
After all, shoppers in any sector could be happy to pay the extra money to ensure any gifts they purchase will be wrapped and delivered to their loved ones. It’s an innovative way to enhance the customer experience, boost revenue, and stand out from less-visionary competitors.
And just another way that the events of 2020 will be shaping long-lasting change in ecommerce, this Cyber Weekend and into the future.
5. Buy now, pay later
Covid-19 has affected all our lives in one way or another, and money will be tighter for countless shoppers. Innovative brands will respond to this and offer customers a fairer and more flexible way to buy products this sales season, such as a “buy now, pay later” scheme.
Not only does it help consumers spread costs to make them more affordable, but it ensures they can still treat the people they care about to products they know they’ll love. Brands who fail to implement this or other flexi-payment plans may miss out on potential sales if buyers simply can’t afford their goods — and that’s a massive knock to the bottom line.
6. Creative cart abandonment marketing
Brands can take a more creative approach to their cart abandonment marketing this Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The right email will pull customers back to a site to complete a purchase if they get cold feet or try to find a better deal elsewhere.
Traditionally, cart abandonment deals offer a discount on the product(s) placed in a cart before the site visit was ended. And this could still work — even if this is only 10%, it could be enough of a competitive edge to secure their custom.
But another option is to showcase product bundles representing better value for money to the shopper — tailored to the customer’s specific interests, of course. Personalization has to play a role (you’ve got the data, so why not use it?). And adding an element of scarcity or a time-bound discount could nudge shoppers across the finish line, too.
Innovate, adapt, succeed with UserReplay
Perhaps the most important point to consider here is that brands need to respond to user behavior as and when they see it changing — that’s how you take advantage of new sales opportunities.
And that’s as true on a macro level as it is right there on your website.
UserReplay is a cutting-edge tool for recording website visitor sessions and creating in-depth analytics to help you deliver the best user experience possible. Watch your customers as they go through the sales experience, see what’s engaging, and what’s missing the mark. Then, crucially, adapt your approach to convert more sales.
Interested to hear more about how UserReplay can help your business? Get in touch today.
And don’t forget to download our Cyber Weekend ebook, ‘Peak sale season 2020: 10 ecommerce trends to shape your trading strategy’ . It’s free and packed full of need-to-know ecommerce insights, to keep your brand ahead of the curve.