By mid-2020, everybody knew that Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend this year was going to be different.
Shopping has steadily migrated online, with repeat lockdowns serving to quicken this shift. Despite the fact that Black Friday began as a primarily in-store event, this year, it looked just like its Monday counterpart — an online shopping extravaganza.
In fact, preliminary data shows that Black Friday in-store traffic dropped 52.1%. At the same time, estimates show that spending online increased by nearly as much.
In our latest BFCM 2020 report, we found that eCommerce conversion rates jumped by over 89% in fashion, 118% in jewelry , and 113% in home decor, indicating that consumers were serious about cashing in on Black Friday deals.
Along with your customers, we scoped out dozens of eCommerce websites this past weekend to gather the most enticing and unique Black Friday experiences of 2020. Here are the creative campaigns, eye-catching features, and shareable promotions that, combined with valuable discounts, put shoppers into a buying frenzy.
1. Early Previews and Access (Brands: Missoma, Target, & Venca)
Consumer confidence took a hit during COVID-19 as uncertainty made shoppers think twice about spending. To get people in the mood to shop ahead of Black Friday, some brands kicked off holiday campaigns way earlier than usual, even as early as October to coincide with Amazon Prime Day.
This not only helped them get consumer attention before holiday advertising reached a peak, but it also encouraged shoppers to start adding items to their wishlists so they’d be ready for “go-time.”
Jewelry brand Missoma combined a Black Friday early access email capture campaign on-site with an influencer strategy that put their products in front of shoppers a few days in advance.
Target created a series of videos to announce promotions two weeks before Black Friday.
Spanish clothing retailer Venca started four days before, on Monday, with lots of attractive offers such as ‘buy now, pay later’ and a flexible 100-day return policy.
Every brand is on social, but using social channels to create unique Black Friday experiences is an art.
A full-blown, cross-platform social media shopping experience needs to take virality, entertainment, and incentives into account. And PrettyLittleThing nailed it. They combined a cash giveaway, with promotions and vouchers, capturing shopper engagement for days across Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook. They even created a custom filter for Instagram stories.
3. The Creative Use of Traditional Channels (Brands: Ulta, Williams Sonoma)
Choice online is near-endless, and so is the volume of ads, influencer posts, and marketing emails. Brands need to go the extra mile to get consumer attention by leveraging existing channels in new and unexpected ways.
Ulta delivered promo updates via SMS, enabling them to bypass savvy consumers who ignore ads and emails. By using phones for their intended purpose and encouraging brand fans to sign up in a non-invasive way, they were able to reach customers directly in a space where there is comparatively less competition.
Williams Sonoma used their website homepage to increase reach for their other brands, such as Pottery Barn and West Elm. It’s a clever way to expose high-intent shoppers to more promotions and to increase the chances that they’ll find something they like.
4. Fulfillment-Based Navigation (Brand: Target)
With so many more consumers shopping online this year, retailers have had to offer a variety of fulfillment options, from curbside pickup to same-day delivery. The retailers who understand how integral the fulfillment experience is to the overall CX will win more business from new and more hesitant shoppers.
Target did a great job of this by including filters based on the mode of order fulfillment, so shoppers wouldn’t be disappointed at the last minute if an item isn’t available with their fulfillment method of choice.
5. Black Friday Experiences Based on Gamification and Contests (Brands: Boohoo, River Island)
Gamification is a clever way to get shoppers to engage and ultimately spend more. However, with all the noise surrounding Black Friday and the rush to reach all the sales on time, you have to be thoughtful about how you introduce gamification, or people will simply scroll away.
Boohoo created a game on their app, an Instagram filter with a mystery prize, a raffle promo, and more, giving shoppers various ways to play, so they could choose what was easiest and most fun.
River Island created an Instagram contest with a ‘tag a friend’ giveaway to get more eyes on their BFCM sales.
6. Month-Long Deals (Brands: Petco, Zaful)
Week-long and month-long deals were a particularly good option this year, since BFCM moved online even for traditional brick-and-mortar players, crowding the four-day sale period even more than usual. Moreover, it’s a practical way to space out orders and make fulfillment and delivery more manageable amid disruptions brought on by the pandemic.
Petco held an ongoing week-long sale that started on Cyber Monday, giving shoppers and opportunity to skip the Black Friday rush altogether.
Zaful, on the other hand, had a very busy November full of discounts and promos. They even created a holiday sale calendar to keep shoppers coming back for more.
7. Lighten up your Black Friday Experiences With Some Humor (Brands: Shinesty, Bonobos)
Emotions influence purchase decisions, often more than any other factor. Having a distinct voice and personality is useful not only for improving brand recall but also for nurturing loyal fans and creating the connections that will build a community. When shoppers feel that brands get them, they’re more likely to engage and even spend more — that goes for Black Friday, too.
Shinesty has always been known for their humor. So, they let their personality shine with an unusual approach to SEO by putting their keywords right on the homepage in conjunction with some funny copy.
D2C darling Bonobos published a witty post on Instagram, showing their cheeky side to spark curiosity and make shoppers smile amid the craziness.
8. Building Anticipation and a Sense of Scarcity (Brands: Zaful, Bed Bath & Beyond, PrettyLittleThing)
It’s great to have shoppers visiting your social media accounts and website, but when you’re after conversions, it’s just not enough. The brands that invested in creative ways to speed up purchase decisions were able to see results this BFCM.
Bed Bath & Beyond took an aspirational approach, reminding shoppers how good it will feel to wrap and share gifts with loved ones. Zaful and PrettyLittleThing had inventory status updates right beside their discounted prices to create a sense of FOMO without using pop-ups or other invasive experiences.
9. Strategic Social Proof Placement (Brands: SHEIN, Pingo Apparel, Fashion Nova)
Social proof is a tried and true strategy to increase eCommerce conversion. While testimonials and user-generated content will always be effective, brands are finding new ways to encourage shoppers via social influence to add items to cart and complete their purchase.
SHEIN lets shoppers know when products are trending with a subtle ranking on the PDP. Pingo shares when an item is purchased and includes the location of the buyer to make it more relatable. Fashion Nova shared customer reviews on their Stories right after promoting Black Friday deals to draw shoppers in.
With the spike in traffic during BFCM, it’s an unparalleled opportunity to win over first-time browsers and turn them into loyal customers. Using membership and loyalty-exclusive perks to entice new customers to create an account is a win-win situation: Shoppers receive immediate value after they sign up, and brands get to build customer relationships. For brands that typically have an email list sign-up pop-up, switching to a subscription or loyalty sign-up is a higher-value opportunity, especially at this time of year.
MeUndies showcases member pricing at every opportunity.
Petco offered deep discounts for repeat orders.
11. Using Existing Real Estate to Make Discounts More Visible (Brands: Williams Sonoma, River Island)
Gone are the days when the product listing pages and search results were plain and boring. This BFCM, smart brands stepped it up a notch, using fresh tactics to stop shoppers from scrolling down to the end of the page without clicking on anything.
Williams Sonoma simplified the shopping experience by putting irresistible add-ons right where consumers can immediately see them — on individual product listings.
River Island included a Black Friday banner within product search results.
12. Smarter Cart Experiences (Brands: Glossier, Outdoor Voices)
Online shopping cart abandonment is a constant frustration for brands and retailers, but on Black Friday weekend, it’s amplified. Brands that are able to make the cart experience a seamless part of the journey, rather than an easy-to-forget end-point have an advantage
Glossier makes the cart window a part of the browsing experience, so shoppers are continually reminded of the items they’ve collected. Payment options and checkout are also available within the pop-up window, creating a single-click shopping journey.
Outdoor Voices used their spunky brand voice and a CTA to checkout directly within their cart abandonment emails to encourage shoppers to complete their purchase. Plus, they include useful extras (like cards and gift wrap) right on the checkout page.
13. Change Up Your Discounts (Brands: Zaful, MeUndies)
Discounts are a no brainer, but the brands that keep it fresh with bundles and timed promotions can earn spikes in shopper interest. This is especially true in fashion, where shoppers tend to buy in bulk on BFCM, according to our latest data.
Zaful offered a variety of product and discount bundles to help shoppers build their ideal cart, rather than get lost in endless identical discounts.
To keep customers glued to their website and social media, MeUndies offered different deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
14. Small Tweaks That Grab Attention (Brands: Bonobos)
It’s the little things. Brands that wanted to deliver the best Black Friday experiences were willing to make all possible changes (albeit temporarily) to create seamless shopping journeys.
Bonobos changed their site metadata so that shoppers researching for brands and products on Google would instantly notice their Black Friday promotion.
15. Exclusive Product Drops (Brands: Alo Yoga, Fenty Beauty)
Finally, to make the most out of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping craze, some brands introduced new and limited product collections including items that shoppers had been waiting for. The streetwear drop model proved that hype for exclusive collections works, and combining that with Black Friday makes for an unstoppable strategy.
Alo Yoga dropped an item per day, encouraging their cult following not just to buy while stock lasted, but also to check back daily for more coveted items.
Fenty Beauty released new products (including surefire crowd favorites, like different shades of bestsellers) at a discounted price in addition to a sitewide discount.
Taking BFCM Tactics Into 2021
While that concludes our list of top Black Friday experiences for 2020, the key thing to takeway from these examples is that innovation in eCommerce comes in many different forms. This past week, many brands and retailers used larger-than-life novelty alongside minimal site updates, both of which enabled them to stand out from the competition and gain life-long customers. Now’s the time to consider how these strategies can be tweaked to elevate the shopping experiences you deliver to all year round.