Black Friday 2013: Embrace Omnichannel Behavior and Social Opportunities

As Black Friday 2013 (November 29) approaches, retailers are already gearing up for holiday promotions. This year, tailoring for multi-screen behavior and social media are more important than ever before.

Online Black Friday sales last year increased 20.7 percent over 2011. This year, the National Retail Federation has already found that the government shutdown isn’t much of an issue for U.S. consumers; they forecast a 3.9 percent increase in November/December U.S. general retail sales, though e-commerce is set to grow at a far greater rate. The NRF predicts a 13 to 15 percent spike in online retail sales, which could reach $82 billion.

Last year, nearly six in ten consumers used smartphones and 41 percent used tablets to surf for bargains on Black Friday (IBM). A recent study by comScore for shipping giant UPS supports IBM’s 2012 findings and offers new insight into omnichannel consumer behavior to help retailers prepare for Black Friday and beyond#mce_temp_url#.

The UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Study reveals that U.S. consumer satisfaction with online shopping is the highest worldwide. Factors that drive consumers’ online shopping satisfaction include ease of checkout, variety of products as well as the ability to track shipments online. Of the shoppers surveyed, nearly two-thirds (59 percent) were smartphone users and 40 percent owned a tablet. 

Though the Baynote/E-tailing group 2013 Holiday Survey found that almost 40 percent of business owners are hoping mobile will drive shoppers to their brick-and-mortar locations, all signs point to the trend towards online shopping and mobile commerce continuing. 

In fact, online shoppers prefer retailers who deliver an integrated omnichannel experience, to combine online and in-store shopping experiences with an option of mobile shopping. More than six out of ten UPS Pulse respondents said the most important element that brought them to a retailer was the ability to buy online and then make returns at the store. This is consistent with IBM’s finding that consumers shopped in store, online and on mobile devices simultaneously to get the best bargains on Black Friday last year.

A deeper look at mobile device users reveals that nearly half of smartphone owners (47 percent) said they would purchase directly from promotions on their device. Meanwhile, 41 percent of tablet owners admitted that a tablet app could drive them to make transactions.

comScore/UPS found several other cross-channel and device insights to help retailers prepare for Black Friday and the holidays, including:

  • 44 percent of consumers want to be able to purchase online, but pick up merchandise in-store.
  • Even when their favorite retailer has a physical store, only 30 percent prefer to access the brick and mortar store; 56 percent prefer to access them via the computer and 12 percent via smartphone or tablet.
  • 46 percent of shoppers said they are less likely to comparison shop when using an app.

Mobile shopping habits aside, social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn drive retailer engagement. Of the shoppers surveyed, more than eight in 10 (84 percent) accessed at least one social networking site. 77 percent of online consumers used Facebook while Twitter, 26 percent, came a distant second. Two-thirds of Facebook users admitted that they clicked “Like” on the brand site in order to receive special promotions. Fully 86 percent said they would pay attention to retailers’ Facebook updates.

In addition to digital strategies, you can increase sales through positive word-of-mouth if you cater to consumers concerned about the availability of free shipping (68 percent), timely arrival of shipments (65 percent) and easy returns (47 percent), the report advises.

The survey was conducted by comScore in collaboration with UPS in February, 2013 and analyzed data from more than 3,000 U.S. online shoppers. Get the full report for further insights from UPS. 

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