Prelini 1Why Black Friday & Cyber Monday no longer represent the biggest shopping day of the year By Prelini Udayan-Chiechi from Bazaarvoice

Each year, online shopping continues to grow as consumers avoid the in-store crowds and take advantage of free shipping. This year the retail industry’s so-called "Black Friday" marketing campaign led to a 12% rise in online spending according to retail analysts IMRG which has resulted in a total of £1.23bn being spent online that day alone, taking the figure for the entire week, (Monday 21st - Monday 28th November), to a staggering £6.5bn.

On Tuesday the 29th, high-street stalwart, John Lewis confirmed the success of the week-long bonanza, itself reporting record sales for the period of just under £200m; a rise of 6.5% on the same week last year, and its biggest ever Friday the 25th on record…

As more and more consumers take to the internet and their mobile devices to grab deals over Black-Friday and the following days, it raises a series of questions for businesses, most notably: how do you set your brand apart from the noise?

With more than 5,000 brand and retailer websites and more than 590M monthly shoppers, the Bazaarvoice network has a unique perspective on the end of November shopping melee, and below are some key and unique takeaways mined from our own data to help your business make the most of the Black Friday ‘Bait Ball’.

For several years now, it seems like we’ve been talking about mobile shopping finally out-stripping desktop. On Black Friday, 48% of product page views came from mobile devices - a 10% increase on the 2015 figure. On Cyber Monday, 42% of product page views came from a mobile device - an 8% increase. More importantly, mobile devices accounted for 41% of Black Friday sales and 33% of Cyber Monday sales – once again edging forward towards the critical mark of 50% parity.

Heading back to the high-street, a ‘flash sale’ on a TV isn’t the only thing of value that brands and retailers can provide their customers. It appears at least 39% of in-store buyers are researching and reading reviews online before they make a purchase.

Even when buying gifts for others and trying to find the best deal, consumers want to make wise purchasing decisions and research the products beforehand, and our data shows that authentic consumer-generated content (CGC) like ratings, reviews, questions & answers, photos, and videos matter when making a purchasing decision.

Shoppers are able to make more informed decisions on what product is best for them, and companies benefit with positive ROI in the form of conversion, revenue, and average order value, plus better SEO and valuable product insights.

Brands have woken up to the consumer-feeding frenzy of Black Friday and some are now even strategically releasing their new products to coincide with this. For example, Adidas’ x BAPE NMD Camouflage shoes (released on the 26th November) received over 1.3million page views during the four day stretch and the product line has already sold out.

As consumers, it seems that we are early birds: by 9am on Black Friday, we were online shopping and researching products for the big shopping day ahead. With Cyber Monday, it seems we went to work, checked some emails, and we were then back to online shopping by 10am. These two periods constituted the most heavily trafficked hours of shopping on both days, so brands and businesses need to make sure their online presences (both desktop and mobile) are capable of withstanding the avalanche of inbound requests – failure to do will prove costly!

This past Black Friday weekend, our network saw year-over-year growth, however, neither Black Friday nor Cyber Monday represent the biggest shopping day of the year any longer; leading us to believe that consumers spread out their festive shopping across November and December, rather than simply bulk buying at discounted prices.

I suspect we will see even more shoppers wait until the week before Christmas this year to do the bulk of their holiday shopping, so this gives businesses and brands the opportunity to take a deeper look in to the consumer decision journey.

By asking questions such as: what products and brands are consumers researching? How long have they been in the market for? And, have they made a purchase yet? Businesses and brands will have the data available to enable them to better reach their shoppers at the critical point in the decision-making process, and therefore capitalise on the inevitable end of year consumer spending flurry.

Prelini Udayan-Chiechi, is VP Marketing EMEA at Bazaarvoice