CX Insights

Ecommerce Takes Over Black Friday

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6 min read

The image of Black Friday is enough to make anybody anxious. With huge lines of cold shoppers excitedly waiting outside of stores and some even camping out the night before, is the year’s busiest shopping day worth the hype?

We’ll look into 2018’s statistics, weighing the pros and cons of shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and discovering how businesses can better prepare for next year.

The dilemma

Following Thanksgiving, as the holiday shopping season officially begins, stores realize they can draw huge crowds by offering discounts. But in this digital age, many consumers opt out of the chaos of “doorbuster deals” and prefer to shop online.

Black Friday is simply changing. Retailers open up their deals days earlier and extend them after the Monday post-Thanksgiving. Likewise, digital transformations at even the most outdated brick-and-mortar stores put smaller businesses on the map.

According to Adobe Analytics, American consumers were on track to spend $7.9 billion in online sales with $2.2 billion of that via smartphone for Cyber Monday, setting the record for the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history. That’s not including an additional $6.4 billion in sales on Black Friday. Whichever way you chose to shop, if at all, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are growing rapidly.

To shop or not to shop

A paradox known as the two envelopes problem reflects many customer dilemmas on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. First, imagine you are given two identical envelopes. They both contain a single check, but one is twice the amount of the other. You’re allowed to pick one envelope to keep. Once you pick up your envelope, you’re told that if you want to, you can switch envelopes and chose the other if you wish. What would you do? Do you switch? Should you?

You may have heard this riddle in your math or economics class. Your professor most likely made you agonize over the right decision in typical pedantic style. Luckily (or rather unluckily) for you, there is no clear conclusion. Many scholars have proposed solutions, but there’s no definitive right answer.

Similarly, many of us wonder if we should jump on the discounts and deals available to us on Black Friday, wait until Cyber Monday, or skip the headache of this marketing-generated holiday entirely and wait for other annual sales.

Is brick-and-mortar a thing of the past?

RetailNext reported that brick-and-mortar sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday had dropped by as much as 7%, a trend recurring 4 years in a row. But it’s not all gloom and doom for brick-and-mortar. RetailNext also reported that for those who did trek out to make their purchases in store, customers were likely to spend more money per interaction.

According to Adobe Analytics, even consumers who shopped online made trips to retail stores with buy online pick-up in-store (BOPIS) orders up significantly (73%) from Thursday to Friday.

With investments into their omnichannel strategy, brick-and-mortar stores can continue to benefit from Black Friday & Cyber Monday spending. What’s perhaps most important to note, Rob Holland, COO at Bluecore, says,

This year we saw an average of 57% of purchases coming from new customers. We expect that more than 20% of these new customers–who often convert in response to higher-than-average discounts–will become second-time buyers in 2019, and will buy in response to lesser (or no) discounts.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be fruitful opportunities to acquire new customers. But your mobile experience has to be up for the challenge.

Upgrading with mobile technology

The question then becomes, how can traditional retailers keep up with digital sales and the trending preference for online shopping? In the debate between click (online) versus brick (in-store), it’s clear that businesses benefit from having both.

In fact, online retailers who open a store can see web traffic increases of 37%. Consider the omnichannel experience; customers want the convenience of mobile commerce with the personal connection of traditional retail.

Thanks to mobile technology, shoppers can now compare product prices from the palm of their hand as they browse retail aisles. This means that while the traditional shopping experience can remain, it must amp up its digital efforts to meet customer expectations. In the words of Macy’s⁩ Chairman and CEO Jeff Genette:

Our best customers shop cross-store and cross-channel.

Seamless omnichannel experiences can result in any of the 57% of customers on Black Friday who are new shoppers becoming returning customers, providing long-term benefits form short-term sales.

To prepare for 2019, retailers must continue to improve their mobile experiences for customers as mobile usage will continue to grow as a mode of shopping, especially on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Optimized shopping with feedback

As customers are under time pressure to make purchases, they will leave if they don’t find what they want immediately, whether it’s in-store or online. This is where the importance of feedback comes in. It’s clear that customers are ready to provide it. This year on Black Friday, for example, Usabilla collected 1.75 times more feedback than the average amount of the past 6 months.

A store’s online presence needs to be flawless and integrated. With out-of-stock items and slower than usual shipping times, it’s important to open up a channel of communication with users so you can alert them if you’re experiencing functionality problems, hear what’s going wrong and fix problems in the moment.

Feedback allows you to keep the pulse on digital channels during these high-traffic shopping days. Moreover, you can easily reflect on these insanely busy days and improve your strategy and team for next year with the data and insights provided by your customers.

With Usabilla for Websites, you can do just that. Your users tell you what’s working and what’s not in a way that is visual and leaves the guesswork behind. Similarly, collecting feedback on your digital channels defers customers from angrily posting on social media when things don’t go their way.

#BlackFridayFails on Twitter

Looking back on this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday many people took to Twitter to vent their frustration with buggy websites, payment issues and more.

Thanks to Usabilla for App, this can all be avoided. We love J.Crew and Lowes, but seeing their site outages made us wish they’d used Usabilla last weekend.

Email Newsletters

Regardless of online or in-store shopping preference, a common thread amongst all buyers on these momentous shopping days is that people receive a lot of emails. These are the prime days to unsubscribe from email newsletters because let’s be honest, we all get bombarded.

How can businesses stand out from the noise and ensure their emails drive customers to a purchase rather than an unsubscribe? Usabilla for Email. With it, you can keep customers close and give them what they need. We help filter the feedback so you can focus on what customers are asking for and make the right improvements.


Consumer behavior this weekend was a precedent for online shops. Not only did people open their wallets wider than ever before, but they also raised their expectations of customer experience. People demand easy to navigate and payment-process optimized platforms.

Incorporating exit surveys and slide-out campaigns with information on deals and giving people the option to leave feedback are just some of the changes that will help you tackle these opportune days in 2019. For businesses, adopting Usabilla looks out for both your interests and those of your customers.

Interested? Learn more about our Voice of Customer (VoC) solution and optimize your digital channels by scheduling a meeting with one of our friendly Business Developers.

Rachel & Meghan
Meghan Horvath and Rachel Bodony are the Marketing Content Writers at Usabilla.