COVID-19 has accelerated the shift from brick-and-mortar to ecommerce and the next couple of months will show a continuation of this trend. Salesforce predicts that up to 30% of global retail sales will be made through digital channels this holiday season.
Whilst uncertainty around lockdown restrictions remains, we anticipate demand for online shopping to further increase during the key trading season across all international markets as brands try to entice shoppers in the lead up to Christmas.
Below, senior members of Pattern’s international team share their Black Friday predictions on the trends we can expect to see in the upcoming trading period.
Consumer brands to place more focus on discounting
We asked our international team for their opinion on whether brands will focus more heavily on discounting this Black Friday than in previous years.
Pattern’s Chief International Officer Chris Vincent gives his view on this and says: “Discounting globally will be rife as brands seek to make up for the loss in sales they may have encountered earlier in the year. I expect discounting tactics to become quite aggressive in the early months of 2021.”
Our General Manager for Australia Merline McGregor agrees adding: “This year, with peak well underway, it is clear that brands will be taking an aggressive stance on stock clearance, and will need to enter 2021 with lighter and cleaner stock levels."
She adds that the difference in lockdown rules between states in Australia, has had a clear corrolation with where ecommerce sales have grown the most. She says: "We can clearly see the impact that a prolonged lockdown has had on Victorian ecommerce; with sales more than double the other states of the nation. This will be interesting to monitor as Victoria comes out of lockdown.”
Perfecting your delivery and logistics proposition will be integral to sales
A strong and sound delivery proposition has always been critical for success for consumer brands; and the pandemic has further highlighted its importance; particularly in Europe, where online shoppers have high expectations at every stage of the shopper journey.
Pattern’s Director of Consulting for Europe Kerry Lee explains the increased online demand brings challenges too, as part of her Black Friday predictions: “As much of Europe faces its second lockdown period, we will continue to witness growing offline-to-online shopper migration. While this is positive for many consumer brands, it presents significant challenges for logistics, stock management and for some, the bandwidth of their sites.”
“Delivery networks may struggle to keep up with the surge in demand for goods, and in turn may begin to penalise European clients for driving more sales than had been originally forecast for this year. In order for brands and retailers to cover these additional costs from delivery networks, there may be a greater focus on encouraging bulk-buying and, where possible, promoting click-and-collect services more heavily.”
Pattern's Global Head of Marketing Joanna Perry agrees: "In Europe we've seen retailers and brands begin their Black Friday promotions much earlier than in previous years, with some having started at the beginning of November. Partly this is to try and capture spend before their competitors do, but it's also due to the squeeze on logistics. Retailers are trying to spread orders so that they don't disappoint customers by not being able to handle dispatch and delivery."
Black Friday predictions: Marketplaces will be a key ecommerce channel
Marketplaces thrive on discounting, and are the online destination of choice for consumers looking for a bargain. The pandemic has seen marketplaces gain an influx of new online shoppers globally, many of which will go on to make purchases across the peak trading period.This year the peak shopping season seems to have to have started as early as mid-October, thanks to the delay of Amazon’s Prime Day.
Pattern's Director of Marketplaces in the US George Hatch tells us how Amazon's Prime Day in October pulled holiday shopping earlier this year and set the stage for what he believes will be a record-breaking Q4. Walmart is adapting by spreading out Black Friday deals into a month long “Deals for Days” event beginning online and continuing the experience in-store.
He says: "The likes of Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy will be heavily subsidising Black Friday and holiday deals and there will be some great bargains out there, but overall brands will not feel the need to discount as much this year primarily due to the overall increase in online shopper demand. During this time, brands may need to worry a bit more about staying in stock and ensure they are meeting their delivery guarantee estimates."
Merline McGregor explains how the impact of COVID-19 has played to the strengths of marketplaces: “Amazon will be a winner during this time. With speedy and contactless delivery becoming the norm in the market, brands would do well to compare themselves against the marketplace to ensure that they at least meet, if not exceed expectations in this area.”
Pattern’s General Manager for MENA David Quaife tells us how the market in the Middle East is preparing for its largest trading period for ecommerce, White Friday (as Black Friday is named in the Middle East): “In the Middle East, we will see the two largest ecommerce players, Noon and Amazon battle it out to maximise the ever-growing ecommerce opportunity in the region. Consumer electronics will continue to be the lead category on marketplaces and a lot of the success of these promotional campaigns will be down to what products will be featured with large discounts.”
Our Black Friday predictions reiterate the need for brands and retailers to closely assess their online sales channels, to ensure that they are associated with excellent online selling experiences.
To discuss how Pattern can help to define your digital strategy, help trade your direct to consumer website or support your marketplace presence get in touch here.