Post-Game Analysis: What Black Friday Means for the Future of Retail

Dec 01, 2017 — Catherine Van Reenen
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As one of the biggest shopping events of the year, the stretch between Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday serves as a microcosm of the entire retail industry. The massive transaction volumes over this period amplify existing consumer trends and can tell us much about the future of retail. Let’s look at the 2017 Black Friday metrics and trends to see how retailers can use them to their advantage moving forward.

 

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Digital Sales Dominated Thanksgiving Weekend Shopping

Between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, more than 174 million U.S. consumers shopped in stores and online. Online shopping hit record sales levels, with consumers spending $2.87 billion on Thanksgiving, $5.03 billion on Black Friday, and $6.59 billion on Cyber Monday, according to data from Adobe Insights. Much of this revenue was driven by smartphone-wielding shoppers; on Black Friday alone, mobile accounted for $2 billion in sales.

Although firm figures aren’t yet available for physical store sales, reports from the Payments team here at iQmetrix are showing that Black Friday was a huge success for wireless retailers. Transaction volumes more than doubled over Black Friday, nearly tripling in value from sales on an average Friday. Congratulations to our amazing clients!

Contrary to industry predictions of a steep decline, physical foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores held steady with a negligible decrease of less than 1% from Black Friday 2016. Overall, Black Friday continues to hold its title as the busiest in-store shopping day of the year, as illustrated by the above chart by analytics firm Shopper Trak.

 

A Battle of the Channels?

Although the success of e- and m-commerce last weekend might initially look like the digital defeat of brick-and-mortar merchants, it’s much more nuanced than that. A closer look at the 174 million people who shopped between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday shows that, of those, 64 million (just over one third) used both digital and physical channels to scope out the hottest deals and make their purchases. The boost in mobile traffic, along with the steady pace of in-store shopping, suggests that consumer behavior is converging across all channels—and it goes way beyond Black Friday.

Matthew Shay—President and CEO of the National Retail Federation—summed it up nicely in a recent article for TheStreet.com: “the game is no longer played at either end zone…retail is a game that’s played at the 50-yard line now.”

In other words, the winning strategy for the future of retail is omnichannel. By embracing both online and physical channels, retailers can attract customers regardless of whether they’re braving busy malls or shopping at home on the couch.

 

How Mobile Payments Can Drive In-Store Sales

An omnichannel approach means ensuring a consistent customer experience across all platforms. Perhaps the biggest point of inconsistency between channels today is the payment process. During high-volume shopping periods like Black Friday, the convenience of the one-click online purchase typically wins out over long checkout lines in physical stores. However, brick-and-mortar retailers can recreate the convenience and speed of online transactions all year round by transitioning to a mobile store setup. 

Mobile payment devices bust lines, decrease wait times, and increase efficiency by allowing customers to make purchases anywhere in the store. Plus, most mobile payment devices accept both traditional cards and new contactless payments—the “analog” equivalent of the one-click online purchase. With contactless payments, the consumer taps their card or smartphone on the payment terminal and boom: transaction completed.

By taking the best parts of the digital shopping experience and adapting them for in-store use, brick-and-mortar retailers can attract customers with a game-changing omnichannel strategy.

Contact a Payments Specialist to learn more about how mobile payments can enhance your omnichannel strategy and boost your bottom line during the holiday season and beyond!

Contact a Payments Specialist

Shutterstock / Shopper Track / Brian Field

Topics: Omnichannel Retail, Payments

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