Another Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) have come and gone. The holiday that once marked the beginning of holiday shopping and big crowds and lines in-store is changing the way we think about shopping and gifting at the holidays.

It’s possibly even changing the way we plan out big ticket item purchases for ourselves. (I won’t tell if you don’t.)

Retail is trending up in sales in the mid 4% range and expected to stay in the high 4% range throughout the season of giving. Promotional activity across the retail industry is still in full swing. While the seasonal savings and shopping are just starting with Green Monday a couple weeks away, and many of us still wading in Thanksgiving leftovers and online wish lists, we wanted to take an inventory of some powerful take-aways for next year.

And there are around 60 billion reasons you should keep reading about this year’s trends according to Customer Growth Partners who reported the dollar amount in sales for this year’s four-day holiday weekend alone, a 5.1% bump from 2017.

Here are five things we learned from Black Friday this year:

1. It’s undeniable. Customers want their in-store experience.

In-store experience

There’s still a lot of buzz around an oncoming retail apocalypse, especially with tariffs starting to hit retailers and their pricing strategies hard this quarter. But the good news? Consumers still want their in-store experience – millennials included.

While the rise of eCommerce is indisputable, anyone in retail can be thankful for this news – shoppers flocked to their stores this Black Friday.

Bloomberg reported that younger millennial and generation Z shoppers came out in troves to find their deals of choice around 3:30 p.m. on Black Friday. Retailers catering to younger shoppers reaped the rewards; instantly.

While brick-and-mortar store traffic is ultimately on the decline, falling 4-7% in profit over the two days, year-over-year, retailers still had a strong in-store showing. And retailers made moves to enhance their shopping experience – Walmart even rewarded their first Black Friday shoppers for waiting in the cold small-business-Saturday-style by providing complimentary cookies, coffee and cocoa to keep spirits warm and bright going into their doors.

And with the digital age here to stay, more retailers are realizing the importance of bringing the digital experience in-store.

2. Omni-channel is still changing everything.

Omni-channel is still changing everything

In the retail industry we talk a lot about how omni-channel shoppers do more research and spend more. The numbers from this year fell right in line with those observations – while online sales thrived, retailers saw a reassuring show of in-store traffic. And more leading brands are finding smart ways to integrate the online and offline shopping experience.

Walmart’s mobile shopping app became an interactive in-pocket guide to the store and where items and promotions were located – letting customers plan a direct path to the deals they wanted to get their hands on first and reducing unnecessary time hunting them down.

Target used mobile checkout to streamline purchases and reduce wait-times and cornered more savings around their iconic Cartwheel app.

Bloomberg shared that “integration of digital and physical stores became more pervasive”.

3. Online or offline, it’s all about your customer experience.

Customer experience at Black Friday was everything

The retail industry has never been more competitive, and consumers are more loyal to brands than they are to retailers. More brick-and-mortar and online retailers are making finding the perfect savings easier by starting them sooner.

As retailers keep the momentum from early November until late December, a cultural shift in seasonal shopping and promotions is obvious. It isn’t just about savings anymore, it’s about customer experience.

More retailers are investing in customer experience and loyalty programs to keep customers coming back during the holidays and into the new year. A good example? Target is offering exclusive offers throughout the month of December to their signature Red card holders.

4. Return on Investment is bigger than ever before

This Black Friday the ROI was there

This year, four full weekends of shopping and an extra day of shopping before Christmas will cap a record-breaking holiday season.

Black Friday shoppers spent a cool $2.4 billion online Wednesday, according to Adobe Analytics data, and another $406 million online Thanksgiving morning. By the time the turkey was on the table that evening, online consumers accounted for another $1.75 billion in sales.

Black Friday also showed us a growing focus on in-store versus online shopping with a total increase of 28.6% in online sales from 2017. The move to shopping online gives customers the flexibility to shop for must-haves over Thanksgiving leftovers instead of leaving their houses mid-food coma.

5. Savings are starting sooner, here’s why.

Black Friday Sales are starting sooner every yearThe last few years, more retailers have been starting or announcing Black Friday specials at the beginning of November. This year, Target and Walmart both opened up about their promotional plans at the start of the month, meanwhile Amazon started Black Friday sales on November 16th.

What’s driving these changes? Convenience for shoppers who want more options throughout the holiday season, growing profit shares and price transparency. In a brutally competitive retail market, pricing transparency across competitors is fueling more promotions to start sooner to cash in on market share, capture demand and attempt to build customer loyalty.

The right pricing is always critical to bringing shoppers in-store or to your online store. Retailers are rightfully becoming obsessive about shelving the right inventory and providing the right prices every day, especially as the holidays draw near.

What else have retailers learned from Black Friday?

Share and comment below or join in the dialogue with us on LinkedIn.

Right Prices, Products and Technology…

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