Black Friday: How Businesses can Leverage its Full Potential

 November 21st, 2018

Starting in November and continuing until Christmas, the holiday shopping season is one of the biggest opportunities to increase sales for online businesses. This is especially true regarding Black Friday, which is traditionally one of the biggest shopping days worldwide. How has Black Friday become such a strong force in ecommerce? And how can businesses better cater to customers in this special online shopping atmosphere?

Black Friday: Beginnings

Black Friday is always the fourth Friday in November, so for 2018 it falls on November 23. Originating in the US, Black Friday is held on this day because it immediately follows Thanksgiving, when most Americans begin their Christmas shopping. The name Black Friday developed from the way businesses traditionally kept their financial records, with losses written in red and profit written in black. Given the push for shoppers to start their holiday spending, businesses quickly realized that on this day they most frequently saw black in their books and so Black Friday was born. To leverage the customer’s increased willingness to buy, businesses seized the opportunity and created the tradition by offering unique deals available at no other time of the year.

Since its humble American beginnings, Black Friday has become a global phenomenon, thanks to the many ecommerce giants offering Black Friday sales worldwide. Black Friday’s sister holiday, Cyber Monday, was created by ecommerce companies to extend the shopping spree to the following Monday, occurring this year on November 26. Some of the most famous ecommerce shops, such as Amazon, have had huge success from these two days, with many others in the ecommerce world eager to follow suit.

Ecommerce on Black Friday: Statistics & Trends

There is plenty of incentive for ecommerce companies to plan ahead for Black Friday. Online retailers generate up to 100% more revenue during the holiday season, with Black Friday accounting for around a fifth of all those sales. The total spending for the holiday season 2018 starting with Black Friday in the US, including both in-store and online sales, is estimated to reach $717.5 billion, or roughly $1007 per shopper, increasing by 4.3% in comparison to the previous year.


Europe has been catching up on the trend and is not far behind the US. On Black Friday 2017, the UK for example experienced a retail sale spike of 361% in comparison to regular days, followed by another spike of 220% on Cyber Monday. Other European countries show similar tendencies, with a rising focus on mobile sales. Indeed, after having some peak days in 2017 where mobile commerce processed more orders than desktops for the first time, it is predicted that mobile phones will be the leading commercial platform during the whole holiday season in 2018. In fact, the mobile market is expected to cover 68% of traffic and 46% of sales, peaking on Christmas eve with 72% of traffic and 54% of orders.

Best Ecommerce Practices for Black Friday

With all the hype surrounding Black Friday and its spin-offs, the competition of other online businesses can be tough. Nevertheless, there are some aspects of the ecommerce strategy that businesses can prioritize in order to attract as much traffic as possible.

According to an ADI report, the top priorities for consumers when visiting an e-commerce site for their Black Friday shopping are price, availability of free shipping, and convenience. Businesses who tailor their websites, checkout experience, and customer support to meet these three priorities should be well on their way to getting the benefits of Black Friday. If you want to learn more about how to optimize your checkout, feel free to read our recent checkout blog series.

A big pitfall to watch out for during these hectic days is the stability of both your website and your payment processing. If a customer is in the middle of a checkout and is suddenly met with a declined card, an error message, or even a crash, they are likely to leave your shop and look for an alternative. To prevent such issues, it is of utmost importance to have backups for everything. Leverage automated payment flows to avoid declined cards or overloaded payment acquirers and have a large variety of payment providers integrated in your system. This enables the possibility to simply use a different payment provider or acquirer in case of high traffic. Integrating express payment options, such as PayPal, is also highly recommended, as speed and convenience are both essential to a high conversion rate.

As mentioned above, ecommerce will experience a shift to mobile and being able to offer a well-designed mobile experience is crucial. For an ultimate mobile customer journey, it is a good idea to offer both an optimized mobile payment shop and the payment experience that is quick and convenient enough so that customer is just a few taps away from the purchase being made.

The Black Friday shopping frenzy is the prime time for ecommerce companies to showcase their products, bargains, and customer experience. By keeping current trends in mind and following the best practices mentioned above, online businesses can stay “in the black” this holiday season.

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