What merchants need to know about Black Friday 2018 to inform 2019 plans

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Kristina: What most surprised you about the 2018 data for Black Friday? 

Sarah Cascone, Director of Marketing, Bluecore: The most surprising thing about the2018 data for Black Friday was the percentage of first-time buyers that were predicted to buy again so soon after the holiday (21% within 94 days). Typically, you would assume most consumers would go shopping for the deals and drop off the face of the earth after that (at least in the eyes of the brand), but many do return in the 3 months following. Since second-time buyers are 130% more valuable than first-time buyers, that group of consumers was a treasure trove for the retailers who were able to identify those buyers and provide relevant follow-up to get them to buy again.

Kristina: Do you expect this to hold true for Black Friday 2019? 

Sarah: Absolutely. Online sales grew by 16% in 2018 and I expect that trend to continue as more direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands come on the scene and are adopted by consumers, craving more relevant experiences. Black Friday should fuel that considering it’s such a massive shopping holiday, with retailers selling an average of 307% more on Black Friday than a typical day. I expect that we’ll see more customers buying for the first-time during Black Friday 2019 and if they are offered a relevant experience, subsequently buying again shortly after. 

Kristina: What should merchants and brands expect from Black Friday this year? 

Sarah: Merchants and brands should expect to see more first-time buyers than previous years, however, they should expect a drop in those buyers returning for a repeat purchase if they are not targeted appropriately. More D2C brands are arriving on the scene with the technical ability to respond to consumers quickly and thus, consumers expectations of a relevant customer experience is only growing. Retailers, with that ability, will see tremendous revenue growth and an increase in lifetime value that will yield a healthy customer base and leave their competitors in the dust.

Kristina: Beyond Black Friday, what are you expecting to see for ecommerce through the holiday season? 

Sarah: For retailers with the inability to target customers based on buying preferences such as discount affinity, I expect to see holiday deals and promotions last longer than previous years in an effort to drive more revenue (but that strategy does not typically yield long-term success).

Kristina: Based on Bluecore’s data, how should merchants be prepping for Black Friday  – and the rest of the holiday season – right now? 

Sarah: Retailers should be identifying who their seasonal shoppers are and what they require to convert, in order to encourage them to convert during the holiday season (i.e. What products/categories are they interested in? Do they require a discount to convert?). This will ensure they are providing welcomed communications that are relevant to the customer while protecting margins during a typically heavily-discounted time.



Kristina Knight is a freelance writer with more than 15 years of experience writing on varied topics. Kristina’s focus for the past 10 years has been the small business, online marketing, and banking sectors, however, she keeps things interesting by writing about her experiences as an adoptive mom, parenting, and education issues. Kristina’s work has appeared with BizReport.com, NBC News, Soaps.com, DisasterNewsNetwork, and many more publications.