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Is Black Friday dead?

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Remember when Black Friday was only the day after Thanksgiving?

In recent years, the traditional start to the holiday shopping season has crept earlier and earlier (and has lasted longer and longer).

If you need proof: Target, Walmart, Amazon, and Best Buy all launched their Black Friday deals before the end of October this year. And 38% of people said that they planned on shopping earlier in 2022 due to concerns over inflation, according to a holiday retail survey conducted by accounting firm Deloitte.

But some brands are pushing back against the slash-and-sell model. REI recently dumped Black Friday permanently; in 2021, Allbirds skipped the sales and released three limited-edition carbon-neutral sneakers; and in 2020, instead of discounting new items, Ikea ran a #BuyBackFriday program that encouraged customers to return used furniture to be upcycled in exchange for store vouchers.

This isn’t just about major brands making changes; the convenience of online shopping is also making it harder for consumers to justify waiting in long lines at the crack of dawn. On average, consumers spent $934 online versus $494 in stores, as reported in the aforementioned Deloitte survey. Cyber Monday also outperformed Black Friday in terms of sales by $1.8 billion in 2021, according to data from Adobe Analytics.

So, is Black Friday dead? Not necessarily.

Rather, there’s more to Black Friday than a singular, in-store shopping day—opening up opportunities for your eCommerce business. Forty-nine percent of Americans still plan to shop on key shopping event days, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday being the most popular. And while online shopping accounts for 63% of sales, in-store shopping continues to rebound, growing from 28% in 2020 to 35% in 2022, Deloitte found.

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Navigating the new Black Friday

As a seller, how can you navigate this new reality where customers are inundated with increasingly digital deals over the course of two months? There’s more opportunity than ever to reach new customers—that is, if you can make your business stand out amidst the noise. These tips can help you make the most of the holiday shopping season.

1. Put together an experience

In stores, people aren’t just shopping for gifts—they’re looking for an experience, says Natalia Zaslavskaya, Head of Wix POS.

“During the pandemic, you didn’t have a choice. You had to buy online. Now, you can go into a store again to see and touch a product,” she explains. Shopping today is a more collaborative experience.

“You might check out a product online, but then you go in the store and actually see how it fits and feels,” says Zaslavskaya. Creating a space where people feel more of a connection to a product is so much more engaging (and more likely to translate to sales) than scrolling through pages on a phone or computer.

Zaslavskaya suggests combining shopping with another experience, like partnering with a local cafe or wine shop, and playing up the event in your promotions, to give people a reason to stay longer.

“You want to give them the whole package and encourage them to interact, not only with the product but with you as the seller, too.”

2. Use all of your platforms

Consumers can be overwhelmed with email after email, and it’s easier to just delete them without reading. So, think outside of the box when it comes to eCommerce marketing and use multiple channels to keep your brand top of mind.

Do It Yourself: Manage your multichannel sales with Wix

For example, if you typically rely on email marketing, try SMS. Texts encourage fast responses, so sending exclusive promotions and sales via SMS is a great way to build urgency without adding another email to a customer’s inbox.

And don’t discount social media: In a 2022 survey of over 14,000 global shoppers, 65% of respondents said they use social media for inspiration when making a purchase, and 60% said that they shop from content posted by brands on social media. Here are the social commerce trends you should know.

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3. Start early, but create a sense of urgency

Picture the throngs of people pushing through a retailer’s door at 12 a.m. sharp on Black Friday to score a limited number of big-ticket items. You don’t get that same reaction with a longer shopping period and the sense of unlimited products that eCommerce creates.

Usually, businesses launch their sales a month in advance, says Zaslavskaya. “It’s good preparation and gets people excited about the things you’re promoting,” she explains.

But since that means people have longer than ever to think about their Black Friday purchases, converting specials into sales requires a little push.

“When customers put things in their online cart, you can push them to buy with a reminder like if they order within eight hours, it will be shipped tonight, or if they buy by X time, they’ll get an additional 10% off,” she says.

You can also remind customers that only a certain number of products remain, which can encourage them to finally click “buy.”

cyber monday promotional emails

4. Bundle products

Bundling or offering multipacks is a kind of upselling or cross-selling technique that encourages customers to commit to a larger purchase at a higher price. Even though they’re spending more, it makes them feel like they’re getting a better value because the unit price of bundled items is lower than when purchased separately.

Try suggesting complementary products to a purchase or offering a ‘buy two get a third free’-type deal. The Dollar Shave Club, for example, offers a variety of bundles and multipacks that translate to 6% or more in savings for their buyers. Remind customers of bundle options via your product pages, cart abandonment reminders, and your marketing methods.

5. Offer exclusivity

Discounts that range between 10% and 30% have become the norm on Black Friday, and so “a regular sale doesn’t work anymore,” says Zaslavskaya. “Exclusivity works better.”

Instead of slashing prices practically in half, follow AllBirds’ example and offer a special collection or limited-edition item that appeals to both new and existing customers.

For example, promoting a VIP discount or early access (i.e., pre-orders) to limited-edition products can create a sense of exclusivity, which rewards loyal customers and encourages them to buy more and buy now. (Encouraging people to sign up for a VIP program can also drive your mailing list through the roof, resulting in more sales down the road.)

Read Also: How to 90x your email ROI (feat. Klaviyo)

It might sound like a lot of change, but with creativity comes growth. The sellers who fine-tune their holiday shopping strategy—both in stores and on their eCommerce website—will have an advantage going into 2023.

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Ashley Mateo

Guest contributor

Ashley Mateo is an award-winning journalist and editor. Her writing has appeared in such outlets as The Wall Street Journal, TIME, Runner's World, Women's Running, Men's Journal, Health, Women's Health, Bicycling, and more.

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