Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the Most Wonderful (Last) Week of the Year

Once upon a time the holiday shopping season had a well-defined beginning and end: Black Friday and Christmas Day.  

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Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the Most Wonderful (Last) Week of the Year

Nov 12, 2018

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the Most Wonderful (Last) Week of the Year

Once upon a time the holiday shopping season had a well-defined beginning and end: Black Friday and Christmas Day.

But in the past decade the lines have blurred, as many retailers are now open on Thanksgiving Day, and the shopping season extends past Christmas.1 

Moreover, countless businesses now grease the wheels for Black Friday by beginning their holiday marketing campaigns weeks and even months in advance, taking note of a National Retail Federation (NRF) study that shows how more than 40 percent of consumers start their holiday shopping before November.2 

At the same time, Small Business Saturday (est. 2010)—which falls the day after Black Friday and encourages consumers to patronize local brick-and-mortar businesses—has gained a higher profile.

Most notably, the shopping rush no longer ends on the day before Christmas.

In fact, in recent years, the day after Christmas—and in fact, the entire last week of the year “has started to feel ‘a little like a stretched-out Black Friday,’” said Craig Johnson, president of consulting firm Customer Growth Partners, in an interview with the New York Times. “The week has, over the years, been gradually assuming more and more importance in the overall mix.”3 

Why might this be the case? For one, consumers are eager to return or exchange unwanted items. But they are also looking to spend their newly-received gift cards, which have become increasingly popular gifts.

According to an annual survey conducted by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, 39 percent of consumers purchased gift cards during last year’s holiday season, making gift cards the second most popular holiday gift.4

By and large, consumers like to receive—and redeem—physical gift cards, helping to drive foot traffic to stores and other establishments. Per National Gift Card Corp., “75 percent of the volume in gift card program redemptions is still in physical cards versus 25 percent for digital gift cards.”5

Black Friday Cyber Monday 2018

None of the above diminishes the importance of either Black Friday (November 23) or Cyber Monday (November 26).

According to CNN Money, “American shoppers spent a record $5 billion in 24 hours” on Black Friday 2017, including a “16.9 percent increase in dollars spent online compared with Black Friday 2016.” At the same time, “ShopperTrak, a data analytics company that measures the number of shoppers at stores, said foot traffic decreased less than one percent when compared to Black Friday 2016,” a reflection of the ongoing growth of online shopping and continued resilience of physical stores.6 

Three days later American shoppers set another record. Per Adobe Insights, Americans spent $6.59 billion online on Cyber Monday 2017, a 16.8 percent increase over Cyber Monday 2016.7

As for the aforementioned last week of the year, Think with Google™, enterprise center tells us that “last year we saw about 20% of all December store traffic happen in the six days after Christmas.” And, “for general shopping queries (such as ‘shopping near me’ or ‘store hours’), [Google™ sees] 34% more searches on Christmas Day than [it does] on Black Friday,” indicative of consumers gearing up for December 26 and the remainder of the year.8

Maximizing Your Share of the Holiday Shopping Pie

So what can you do to maximize your revenues and profits during the mission-critical part of the year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve?

For starters, there are dozens of things you can do from a marketing perspective, with Shopify’s 26-point-checklist offering a series of potentially helpful suggestions. Some are commonsensical, like providing quick and courteous responses to customer questions and offering “easy and hassle-free returns.”

Others are a little less obvious, like creating “awesome abandoned cart emails” that encourage shoppers to complete their purchases.

But even less obvious, perhaps, is how minimizing friction during the payment process—both on and offline—can help maximize revenue and profits.

mPOS Solutions

In fact, adding a mobile point of sale (mPOS) solution is a commonly overlooked improvement, one which allows you to take payments on tablets and smartphones, in addition to traditional point of sale devices.

A mPOS is particularly advantageous when foot traffic is heaviest—as on Black Friday—because you can largely eliminate checkout lines when you are capable of taking payments from anywhere in your establishment.

In addition, cashiers equipped with mPOS-ready tablets or smartphones aren’t tied to a cash register; instead they can double as sales consultants and ring up customers from anywhere on the sales floor, boosting the likelihood of impulse purchases and making the payment process faster and easier for customers.

Never mind the fact that an mPOS solution can enable you to make sales outside of your physical place of business; suddenly you can take payments anywhere you go, including special events and trade shows.

And if your establishment isn’t yet EMV® ready, this is an ideal time to explore adding a mPOS solution and adding the capability to accept EMV payments. As you probably know, being EMV-ready reduces your exposure to financial liability, because as of October 2015 “businesses that are unable to support chip cards [may be] held financially responsible if a fraudulent transaction occurs.”

Prepping Your Web Site for Cyber Monday

At the same time, it’s a good idea to make sure your Web presence is up to the challenge of attracting Black Friday Cyber Monday shoppers and processing their orders. This includes ensuring that your site can handle surges in traffic (and establishing a contingency plan in the event your site crashes).

You may also want to take advantage of tools designed to prevent online credit card processing fraud, including address verification service.

Also, by now your site should be secure (that is https, not http); not only is it an SEO ranking factor, Google is now marking all sites that have not migrated to https as “not secure” in Chrome.9 

In addition, your site also needs to be responsive—that is, optimized for tablets and smartphones, not just desktops. Response magazine notes that mobile commerce already makes up close to 40 percent of e-commerce, and that “it will represent nearly half (49.2 percent) of total e-commerce sales by 2020.”10 If users can’t read or appreciate your content they’ll likely go elsewhere to make their purchases.

Speaking of content, this might also be a good time to optimize the existing content on your site — by updating and improving the meta descriptions on your pages, for example — as among Google’s top three ranking factors, content is the only one in which you have complete control.11

The bottom line is that you can’t skimp on your web site if you want to keep up with your online competitors. “Put time and effort into the copy and design,” emphasizes Blue Host, “because Google can sniff out something slapped together.”12

As can potential customers.

TSYS can help

If you have any questions about mPOS solutions, fraud tools or need help getting ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, don’t hesitate to give TSYS a call at 1.888.845.9457.

1 These Stores Will Be Open on Thanksgiving, House Beautiful, https://www.housebeautiful.com/shopping/g23133690/stores-open-on-thanksgiving/

2 Holiday Survival Kit, National Retail Federation, https://nrf.com/sites/default/files/Documents/NRF%202014%20Holiday%20Survival%20Kit%20REV.pdf

3 Christmas May Be Over, But Holiday Shopping Is Not, The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/business/holiday-shopping-13th-month.html 

4 National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics survey, https://nrf.com/media/press-releases/procrastination-nation-holiday-shoppers-rushing-meet-deadline

5  Even in Digital Age, 3 Out of 4 Redeem Loyalty Points for Plastic Gift Cards, National Gift Card Corp., https://www.ngc-group.com/even-in-digital-age-3-out-of-4-redeem-loyalty-points-for-plastic-gift-cards

Online sales boomed on Black Friday, CNN Money, https://money.cnn.com/2017/11/25/news/black-friday-holiday-shopping-foot-traffic/index.html
 
7 Cyber Monday becomes largest online shopping day in US history, CNBC, https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/28/a-record-6-point-59-billion-spent-online-on-cyber-monday-making-us-history.html
 
8 'Twas the week before (and after) Christmas, when shoppers went nuts, Think With Google, https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/last-minute-christmas-shopping/ 
 
Effective July 2018, Google’s Chrome browser will mark non-HTTPS sites as ‘not secure’, Search Engine Land, https://searchengineland.com/effective-july-2018-googles-chrome-browser-will-mark-non-https-sites-as-not-secure-291623
 
10  Retail Sales on the Rise; E-Commerce, Mobile Will Enjoy Surge, Response Magazine, https://www.responsemagazine.com/commerce/retail-sales-rise-e-commerce-mobile-will-enjoy-surge
 
11 Now we know: Here are Google’s top 3 search ranking factors, Search Engine Land, https://searchengineland.com/now-know-googles-top-three-search-ranking-factors-245882
 
12 How to prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Blue Host, https://www.bluehost.com/blog/websites/how-to-prepare-for-black-friday-and-cyber-monday-9442/
 
EMV is a registered trademark or trademark of EMVCo LLC in the United States and other countries.  www.emvco.com  All trademarks contained herein are the sole and exclusive property of their respective owners.  Any such use of those marks without the express written permission of their owner is prohibited. Think with Google, Chrome and Google are trademarks of Google Inc.

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