Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the biggest shopping days of the year. So, it’s not surprising that there are already plenty of forecasts about what marketers can expect as the holiday shopping rush begins.
Here are six things likely to happen this year.
1. Retailers’ Early Readiness Will Pay Off
There was a time when Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals were only available for those two days. But, many retailers start appealing to consumers early. They offer great deals for an entire week or at least give a sample of the offerings so people can start planning.
Amazon began its Black Friday deals in mid-November, and people interested in shopping Sam’s Club can already check out the Black Friday ad for this year. It’s probable that this proactiveness will result in substantial profits. After all, great buys are what shoppers want most, and they probably don’t mind too much about the timing.
One exception might be if people were saving portions of their paychecks for Black Friday and can’t afford to take advantage of the earlier deals yet. This early push to attract consumers helps explain why only five percent of retailers reported focusing their ad budgets on reaching last-minute shoppers when those brands responded to a recent poll.
2. Amazon and Walmart Will Appeal to the Most Online Consumers
When many people decide they need to buy something online, Amazon is one of the first places they think of when choosing where to buy the merchandise. Walmart could come to mind, too, especially since it offers ways for people to get their items faster to directly compete with Amazon. As it turns out, those two brands are top of mind during the holiday season as well.
A study found more than 80 percent will use Amazon to shop for holiday gifts online, while more than 56 percent will see what Walmart offers. The research also revealed people would be more likely to buy online than in stores, but some would do both.
Amazon and Walmart will likely both emphasize convenience and selection to attract customers. Other brands should consider taking the same approach, as long as they can stand behind promises made.
3. In-Store Shopping Will Still Be Significant
Walmart is another one of the retailers that’ll start its Black Friday deals early this year. And, to get people in the mood to come into stores instead of sitting on their couches to shop, it’s hosting Thanksgiving parties in its stores starting at 4 p.m., complete with free coffee and cookies.
Also, Target and Walmart will both provide mobile checkout services courtesy of employees that roam around the stores with equipment that helps people pay for goods without waiting in lines.
To provide extra services like those, retailers need to have adequate numbers of employees on hand. But, going back to basics and being mindful of inventory control best practices at stores of all sizes and types is also crucial and cannot get overlooked due to the hectic surroundings. Empty shelves lead to upset customers.
4. Google Will Boost the Visibility of E-Commerce Stores
Many people type “Black Friday deals,” “Cyber Monday sales,” or similar search queries into Google to narrow down their searches. This year, Google’s letting retailers take part in an experiment that will display ads featuring their seasonal deals.
According to Google, 100 percent of “Black Friday” searches happened between November 19 and 25 last year, representing both the run-up to and the day after the shopping holiday. It’s too early to say for sure how much extra traffic Google’s dedicated ads will bring to e-commerce retailers, but the bump will likely be noticeable.
5. Social Media Shopping Will Lose Traction This Year
Individuals spend time on social media to catch up on the news or stay in touch with friends, so it’s not surprising that they use social media channels to research items and buy them during the holiday season.
However, a report from Adobe about holiday season trends found that social referrals will generate 11 percent less revenue per visitor than last year. And, the report projects a 25-percent drop in people using social media for gift ideas.
The reduced dependence on social media this year could be because people become disheartened and dubious when they see social media offers. One that’s already made the rounds this year was a bogus $150 Kohl’s coupon geared towards Black Friday shoppers.
6. Cyber Monday Will Attract People “Overwhelmed” by Black Friday
News channels capture footage of people running into stores as soon as the doors open on Black Friday, frantic to put TVs, laptops and other big-ticket items into their carts. Even in well-managed stores, the energy of hundreds of eager consumers can become too extreme. At least that’s the conclusion made by a survey carried out by The Harris Poll and OpenX.
It found that nearly 60 percent of shoppers intend to skip Black Friday this year, citing the shopping day as “overwhelming.” But, almost three-quarters of those polled said they did not feel the same about Cyber Monday.
One thing about shopping during Cyber Monday is that it allows people to get the items they want without ever coming in contact with others.
That characteristic could appeal to people who don’t like crowds or would need to make childcare arrangments to take advantage of in-store-only Black Friday deals.
Retail Preferences Are Shifting
It’ll be interesting to see how many of these predictions play out this year.
No matter what, retailers must realize that people are shopping during the holidays differently than in the past — both concerning their preferred methods and timing.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday will give profit boots, but the brands best poised to capitalize on them will be those that have evolved with the times.