With Black Friday already behind us for another year and Cyber Monday currently in full-swing, preliminary data on the success of this year’s long weekend on pre-Christmas sales makes interesting reading. Figures compiled by data science company Springboard, indicate that this year Black Friday proved to be a major disappointment for bricks and mortar stores. A decline of 0.6% had been expected by Springboard says footfall in retail parks and shopping centres was down a significant 3.6% and sales 4.2%. However, online sales were up 11.3%.
When Friday’s data is combined with that from the weekend and today’s Cyber Monday, we’ll get a clearer idea of whether the pick-up in online commerce has done enough to make up for the downtrend in in-store shopping this year. However, regardless, the lead up to Christmas is demonstrating just how crucial e-commerce now is to retailers. Within e-commerce, the dominant 2017 trend has been the growing significance of social commerce strategy. Social commerce is the quickly growing sub-category of e-commerce which, depending on the definition, is shoppers either making buying decisions as a result of social media influence, or making a purchase directly from a social media platform.
Customer intelligence company VisionCritical, have put together a number of stats which demonstrate just how important a good social commerce strategy will have been to retailers over the sales weekend. 40% of consumers interact on social media by either posting an update or sharing a photo while shopping. However, almost 70% of shoppers were disappointed by the level of discounts on offer this year, believing that better deals were offered by retailers in previous years. And 52% of American Black Friday shoppers engaged with planned to comparison shop on their mobile smartphones while in store.
These figures highlight a number of critical social commerce trends that retailer marketers therefore clearly need to be aware of and harness if they are to maximise sales:
1) Retailers need a social commerce strategy that taps into the kind of content that shoppers will share while shopping.
2) Retailers can harness social media to address the lack of enthusiasm for the level of discounts offered and motivate sharing. Social commerce strategies such as ‘Instagram couponing’ can leverage gamification to generate in-store social media shares to access bigger discounts and drive promotion shares.
3) Finally, retailers can find a way to gain an advantage from in-store comparison by using their social media presence to help drive potential customers to (favourable) online comparison pages.