There were fewer lines and fewer shoppers at retail locations during the Black Friday weekend last week. Overall sales for the weekend were down 11 percent from last year but things aren't as bad as that number would seem to most business owners. By delving deeper into the data, we see that internet marketing and ecommerce are changing shopping behavior among consumers of all income brackets and age groups. This isn't a one time change to only be seen during this holiday season. Many of the trends that were seen during the Black Friday weekend are previews to the way ecommerce will affect retail sales in 2015. By learning from the factors that influenced sales during the holidays, marketers can create better campaigns for 2015.
A key takeaway for marketers is the fact that more consumers are beginning to realize they the internet gives them more options for when and how to buy items they want, than in the past. This means that consumers are no longer bound by traditional shopping methods or timeframes. Black Friday 2014 showcased this fact. Rather than wait in line at a store or fight crowds once inside, many consumers opted to do their shopping from the comfort of home.
"Consumers now have more tools at their disposal when it comes to connecting with retailers, and as online shopping continues to grow, more shoppers this holiday season will look for specific online promotions as a way to find the perfect gift at the right price," said Pam Goodfellow from the National Retail Federation.
This is a trend that retailers should expect to see more of in 2015. For any gift giving season during the year (e.g. Valentine's Day, Easter, graduations, etc.), retailers should have online promotions that they market heavily to their target audiences. To be fair, It does take time and resources to create specials, redesign websites and build marketing campaigns for each holiday, but the effort is worth it. As the data from this Black Friday weekend indicates, people are searching for online holiday specials and retailers can't depend on people learning about their specials by coming to the store directly.
Another trend from Black Friday that will carry into 2015 is the growing percentage of a business' income that comes from ecommerce sales. Even though in-store sales were down, ecommerce sales from desktop and mobile devices reached new heights. According to data from comScore, US online buying from desktop computers from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday 2014 totaled $6.6 billion, which is a 24 percent increase over the sales in 2013. According to the IBM data, Thanksgiving Day mobile traffic accounted for 52.1 percent of all online traffic and Black Friday mobile traffic reached 49.6 percent of all online traffic, an increase of 25 percent over last year. Black Friday mobile sales accounted for 27.9 percent of total online sales, an increase of 28.2 percent over the previous year.
The growing importance of ecommerce for retail sales will continue unabated next year. Consumers will be searching online for retailers who can have the latest products at reasonable prices and with good shipping options. Retailers should take this data as a sign that it's time to invest in their ecommerce offerings if they aren't up to snuff.
To prepare for the growing desire for online shopping in 2015, retailers should look at their ecommerce site at ask: Is the site easy to use for desktop, mobile and tablet users? It may require building separate sites for each device type if that's what it takes to deliver a pleasant user experience on each device.
A final takeaway from the Black Friday weekend that will be useful in 2015 is the importance of reaching consumers early. Though Black Friday weekend sales were anemic, according to ShopperTrak, the reason is that more shoppers took advantage of sales that started on Thanksgiving Day or weeks before. In 2015, marketers need to realize that the competition for any consumer attention so early campaigns help to get the message to consumers before anyone else does and before the marketplace becomes too saturated with competing offers. To illustrate, don't wait for Presidents' Day weekend to announce sales. Start the online sale a week earlier and get the sale information to fans and past customers via social media and email marketing.
With 2014 coming to a close, it's important for business owners to be thinking ahead to how they will make 2015 even better. By learning from the trends that influenced holiday shopping at the end of this year, marketers can create campaigns that take advantage of these factors to generate more sales in the future. Business owners and marketers should also look for trends in their internal sales data. These trends may indicate what they should expect from future customers.
For more tips that business owners can use in 2015, read this article on how marketers can build customer loyalty in the digital age.