Black Friday shopping is a holiday tradition that’s not going anywhere. The retail landscape continues to rapidly change with the popularity of online shopping and on-the-go purchases. That’s why it’s so important for customer service teams to keep up with the crowds. We’ve put together a roundup of this year’s biggest Black Friday trends and how customer service teams can make sure they’re staying on top during the year’s busiest season to meet and exceed service expectations.
Skip the Lines
Black Friday has become notorious for stampeding crowds and bloody noses. To avoid the chaos, consumers are ditching the malls and doing their holiday shopping from the comfort of their couches.
A big change occurred last year in 2016, when most brands began offering the same deals in-store and online. Black Friday online sales reached an all-time high this year, up 24% from 2016. Even more impressive is the fact that Cyber Monday broke records as the largest day of online sales in the US ever. This increase is nothing new, but 2017 marks the first year that less than half of online purchases were made from a computer. 40% of this year’s online sales were made from a smartphone, most likely because busy consumers are loving the ease of mobile wallets and worry-free mobile checkout processes. Since consumers are already on their smartphones, more brands are also using SMS solutions to be available for their customers at anytime.
So what does this mean for the retailer? In a world of online, mobile and in-store retail options, customers have come to expect omnichannel integration. This means that whether customers are shopping in-store, on their laptops, or on their phones, they expect retailers to honor deals and uphold customer service standards across all channels. They also expect all of these channels to be integrated smoothly. For example, a customer should be able return an online purchase to a store location without a problem, as many shoppers will do their shopping research in-store and purchase online (or vice versa). The option to purchase online and later pick up in-store was the reason that 33% of shoppers decided to make a purchase during last year’s holiday season.
Hello Black November
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are slowly being replaced by an even bigger shopping event: Black November. Many deals that were once exclusive to Black Friday no longer are. Retailers have been advertising “Black Friday Week” and “Black Friday Month”. For example, Amazon launched an entire Black Friday Store on November 1, featuring daily deals. Brands are wanting to stand out from the competition by being the first to offer a great deal, and customers have definitely been taking advantage.
Spending in the weeks leading up to Black Friday increased this year compared to last year, with over $1 billion dollars in online sales taking place every single day from November 1 - 22. With these extended sales, consumers also expected extended availability and hours of service. In order to smoothly sail through the holiday rush, customer service teams should be prepped and ready well in advance of Black Friday weekend. Customers want to be able to purchase items when it’s convenient for them, even in the middle of the night. This means that retailers must ramp up their staff during this season and ensure that customer service team members are ready and available to handle late-night shoppers and customers in varying time zones. By purposefully advertising their phone number, email and chat tool, brands can make sure that they are as available to their customers as possible.
This year’s trends once again emphasize the need for brands to have a strong omnichannel integration and a ready-for-anything customer service team, in order to succeed both during the holidays and all year round.