2020 has been a unique year for retail and eCommerce businesses at every turn. Customers have spent more time shopping online than in stores. Curbside and in-store pickup has taken off. And delivery services have evolved to accommodate the surge in fulfillment needs — particularly for last-mile doorstep deliveries.
This has created an interesting backdrop for Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year, as in-person shopping has been restricted for health reasons and online shopping (and deals) have become the norm.
How will Black Friday and Cyber Monday look compared to previous years? We’ve got 5 predictions for you, below.
Extended Black “Friday” Deals
Traditionally, Black Friday has been a one to two day holiday. Shoppers would line up outside their preferred store after Thanksgiving dinner to wait for employees to open at a specified time. And once the doors were open, customers would flood the aisles to take advantage of deals on items like clothing or electronics.
But with foot traffic being reduced to combat the spread of Covid-19, many retailers are planning to take a different approach. Rather than offering deals on a few consecutive days, businesses like Walmart, Best Buy, and Target are extending their deals into the weeks preceding the holiday.
To reach the bar that’s been set this year, retail and eCommerce businesses will likely need to offer deals throughout the month of November and possibly into December as well.
Digital Black Friday
eCommerce has been the preferred method of shopping for customers all over the world this year. And with Covid-19 still on the books, that’s projected to continue on through Black Friday (and of course, Cyber Monday).
The logistics of a “digital Black Friday” will be interesting in a lot of different ways, as customers will be able to place products in their carts well before Black Friday or Cyber Monday even begins to increase the chances of getting a great deal on a desired pair of shoes, a TV, or an iPad. At the same time, businesses will likely need to use email, social media, and push notifications to provide shoppers with real-time information on limited time and last-minute deals.
Regardless of how each business chooses to handle its eCommerce deals, many will likely take a page out of the Cyber Monday playbook.
While many shoppers choose to purchase items online and have them shipped directly to their doorsteps, there are also other fulfillment options available to customers, including in-store pickup (BOPIS) and curbside pickup (BOPAC). And businesses have spent the last three quarters polishing up their pickup procedures to make it faster, safer, and easier for everyone involved.
During Black Friday, these options will likely continue to be available to customers in order to reduce the strain on the fulfillment process. And this means customers will be able to get their products faster as well.
In the last few years, many businesses have received backlash on their decision to start Black Friday on Thanksgiving, as it pulls employees away from their families. As a result, this year, many retailers and eCommerce businesses have opted to close on Thanksgiving, so that employees can spend time with friends and family.
Ultimately, the businesses that choose to follow suit will likely maintain a better public perception than those who decide to power through the holiday.
Naturally, with all the online shopping that will take place between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, fulfillment will get bogged down. And it won’t just be carriers who will be overwhelmed. Fulfillment centers will also face a massive number of orders to pick, pack, and ship.
To accommodate the demand, retail and eCommerce businesses will need to strategically scale their operations. That includes expanding their fulfillment and order management teams and increasing the number of carriers and last-mile delivery drivers. In many cases, this may lead to seasonal hiring. But in others, the best option will be to partner with an omnichannel order management provider that can scale up and down with their needs.
Being two of the biggest shopping days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday don’t look to be going anywhere, anytime soon. But with all the changes in 2020, this year will look a lot different. By leaning on the best practices you’ve developed during Covid-19, adapting your processes to fit a digital Black Friday, and scaling your operations to meet the needs of lots of digital orders, you’ll be in good shape to tackle it.