Eric Jan C. van Putten
Eric Jan C. van Putten 26 November 2020

Black Friday 2020 And The Rise of Omnichannel

For retailers in 2020, the theme of this year's Black Friday is omnichannel. Customers are relying heavily on digital processes to keep life moving, and they expect to find you where they need you - whether it's in-person or online.

Do you remember Black Friday before ecommerce? Before online shopping, people lined up outside, often in the very cold, to get a once-a-year opportunity to save big on consumer electronics and other products. As an annual event, this tradition of Black Friday reached its crescendo when there would be at least one incident where the mad rush to enter a store led to someone being seriously injured.

When ecommerce arrived on the scene and started to take off, it was the mid-1990’s. A decade later the first ecommerce marketing event would be born, known as Cyber Monday. Claiming the Monday following Black Friday, Cyber Monday ushered in a new, competitive retail “holiday” free from the crowds and the cold.

Around the same time that Cyber Monday was being coined, Alibaba was born. The Chinese-based and American-backed B2B ecommerce company would take an existing Chinese holiday called Singles Day and parlay it into the world’s largest online shopping extravaganza. Taking place on November 11th, Singles Day today comprises of livestreams from the virtual showrooms of product sellers, offering a unique, virtual experience centered around the retail holiday.

In 2015, Amazon introduced its own sales day called Prime Day. This day is aimed at their millions of Prime subscribers with deep discounts on Amazon products and other leading brands. Prime Day typically lasts for two days in July, but in 2020 it took place in October.

And yet, despite the convenience and overall growth of ecommerce, Black Friday remains faithfully intact. In fact, ecommerce opens up the best of both worlds for both customers and retailers. For some shoppers, brick-and-mortar stores still offer a gratifying shopping experience as storefronts go on full-display with festive holiday decor. Others prefer to find Black Friday deals on their favorite ecommerce sites. In both scenarios, customers can now access the products they need more conveniently.

This year, leading retailers like Walmart and Best Buy began their Black Friday sales events in early November, weeks ahead of schedule, which will not only maximize their sales potential but may also help cut-down on in-store crowds on the night itself.

Black Friday trends in 2020

Unusual is the understatement for 2020, the year of the pandemic, where retailers have stretched beyond the cycle of Black Friday to keep online sales up as many of them saw their brick-and-mortar stores closed due to the nationwide lockdowns or hours of operation drastically cut.

This has been a watershed moment for ecommerce and a historic time for shopping innovation. Curbside pickup, as an example, helped bridge the gap between shopping online and in-store, while also helping to reduce contact between shoppers. 

During the holiday season of 2019, online orders maxed out the capacity of delivery providers like UPS. The same is predicted for 2020 even though retailers and delivery providers have hired tens of thousands of seasonal workers. To further offset the delivery deluge, some retailers are resorting to creating more pop-up shops.

What pop-up shops lack in shopping square footage they gain by being less risky than traditional long-term leases, nimble and allow for rapid pivoting as phase 2 lockdowns loom. They also act as mini warehouses, virtual reality galleries and laboratories for brands to experiment with.

For retailers in 2020, the Black Friday theme is omnichannel. Customers are relying heavily on digital processes to keep life moving, and they want to find you when and where they need you – whether that’s in-person, online, or both (like curbside pickup).

So, Black Friday, you have come a long way. You have been copied but never replaced. You have adapted but continue to represent the consummate, annual deal. And we support you.

Curious about going omnichannel? Learn why both B2C and B2B businesses choose Dynamicweb to fuel their ecommerce and omnichannel experiences in our free whitepaper, Why you need more than a shopping cart.

Download the white paper, Why you need more than a shopping cart

this article was written by my colleague and product evangelist, Richard Lee

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