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November 4, 2020 - By Hawke Media

Black Friday vs Cyber Monday 2020

The Winners, The Loser, & Everything In-between

SPOILER ALERT: There will only be one loser on Black Friday & Cyber Monday, and that is brick and mortar retail sales. With COVID-19 continuing to affect where and how we shop, major retailers are closing their doors to crowds. I doubt that conclusion is a surprise to anyone as more shoppers migrate to eCommerce platforms and away from traditional shopping centers.

Historically people turn out in droves to snag Thanksgiving Weekend deals to head off their holiday season spending. 2019 was no different. Around 189.6 million shoppers (a 14% increase from last year) turned out to get a head start on the season spending an average dollar amount of $361.90.

Did you see any correlation in your sales?

Online shoppers beat out in-store shoppers by a margin of approximately 12.8% with only 124 million shoppers opting for the more traditional route (75.7 million did both).

In true underdog fashion, Black Friday took the crown from Cyber Monday for the busiest online shopping day and kept its title of the busiest in-store shopping day. Small Business Saturday punched in a distant, but strong second place for in-store shopping in 2019 and with big retailers bowing out, this could be a good alternative for lower capacity small businesses to attract willing an eager customers.

woman doing statistical analysis
Source: Getty Images

Trends & Observations

Beyond the discounts, shoppers are looking for a number of factors before making a purchasing decision. Perks like free shipping and buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS) were cited over 5% more frequently among those looking to buy. And with the spread of COVID-19 these will continue to become more and more influential.

Pay attention to these factors that buyers cited as major influences in their purchasing decision:

Ease of Use:

Your website and/or app need to provide a seamless experience from end to end. 

Items need to be easy to find, easy to cart, and easy to checkout and pay. Whether your customer comes from email, social, or any other source, they want a positive experience when making a purchase.

If Sally visits your website and each page takes too long to load, Sally will likely get frustrated, leave, and shop elsewhere (like 53% of people). If she makes it to checkout and one or more of the items in her cart become unavailable, say goodbye to that revenue. If she can’t click through from a promotion to the product she wants, she probably won’t go looking for it.

The above scenarios are hypothetical but easy to imagine because most people have been in Sally’s shoes. A major part of customer experience is how they interact with your website or app while on their way to purchase your product.

Being fast, efficient, and functional are always key!

Sense of Urgency:

Shoppers are waiting for limited-time promotions and sales to pounce on items they’ve wanted, but have been waiting to buy.

This isn’t just a strategy for the holiday season. 

Give your customers a reason to hit the “place order” button by making them an offer that they can’t refuse. By offering your product for a lower than average sale price for a limited time, you can avoid devaluing your brand and products while also influencing your bottom line with a potentially higher volume of sales.

You can offer a range of special options, including bundles (a good way to get less popular inventory out of the door by packaging it with more popular items), buy one, get one, and if you have a subscription product you can offer a prepayment discount.

Work in these tactics with new customers and customers who’ve fallen off the radar. Most importantly, keep an eye on your margins, so you don’t end up giving away the farm!

Free Shipping:

Who doesn’t love free shipping? 

Apparently, 49% of shoppers reported that free shipping was the most important influence in their buying decision. 

Free shipping can be a heavy strain on your margins, but tactics like bundling can bring in higher dollar sales to make up for the loss on shipping costs.

Do what makes sense for your business!

Diverging paper planes
Source: Getty Images

How To Stand Out

Optimize for Mobile

An overwhelming number (75%) of shoppers either researched products, price shopped, or made purchases using mobile devices.

It’s easy to see that shoppers are moving toward the experience that offers the most convenience, which means every touchpoint needs to be optimized for mobile. Make sure the experience using your app or mobile website is flawless for your mobile users.

That means adaptive text and page size, compressed images and file sizes (without sacrificing quality), and optimized CSS. 

Make Your Emails On Point

Shoppers are looking to email more than any other medium for deals and promotions. Your emails need to work – on desktop and mobile for all email clients – and they need to stand out!

Clear and concise communication with purposeful supporting graphics is a must. Make sure you test your messaging within different segments – conduct and A/B test with different subject lines to influence open rate, or different call-to-actions to influence click-through rates, or different layouts to test engagement.

It’s easy to spend time putting together an email only to send it off into the ether without thinking about the person on the other end, but it’s crucial to always ask yourself “why do would I care about this?” if I were in their shoes.

There should always be two winners on Thanksgiving Weekend, the buyer and the seller. And in reality there are actually two losers, the other is our collective waistlines.


Thanksgiving weekend draws nearly 190 million shoppers, spending up 16 percent. December 2019.

13 Statistics Showing The Importance of Mobile Web Performance. April 2017.