Our Black Friday Observations


Black Friday was for many retailers a big success. Now that we have had time to ship out most of our customers packages filled with cloths, gadgets, camera equipment and early christmas gifts, it is time to look at the first market observations. In a nutshell: This sales day was an online shopping event. Nothing more, nothing less. And the early bird catches the worm.


A few post-Black Friday observations: Mobile first

Mobile accounted for more than half (55%) of visits to online stores on Black Friday, according to figures, offering another easy way to shop. In fact, it looked like shoppers didn’t want to miss a moment: John Lewis found that its busiest period to date was the half-hour between 8am and 8.30am, according to the Guardian, as people shopped on the way to work, and that from 8am to 9am, sales through mobile phones were up by more than a fifth.

Meanwhile, some shoppers were shunning the great outdoors, choosing not to brave the high streets to seek out bargains. The Telegraph reported that footfall on Black Friday had fallen by 7% on the high street, and 5% at shopping centres compared with 2015, according to ecommerce trend tracker PCA Predict.


Online bargain hunters like to shop early

A few major retailers in the UK reported a surge in purchases in the early hours of Friday. According to the Independent: Argos’ chief executive John Rogers said that there had been half a million visits to the store’s website between midnight and 1am on the 25th – 50% more than last year. The same report found that John Lewis was receiving five orders a second through the night.

At GANDT Ventures we can confirm that this early bird trend also existed amongst our Fashion & Retail clients.


We noticed a strong demand and interest among our partner shops in the early morning. However we cannot confirm that the peak already started the night before. The depicted customer sample is mainly based in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. These countries customers appear to have slept in first, went to work and then started reading the sales newsletter they got that morning.

After the initial peak and interest was over, the traffic levels consolidated and so did the number of orders (transactions) throughout the rest of the day.


Straight-Forward Deals with little product differentiation

This year it seemed like nearly everyone had joined in on the fun. Omni-channel retailers tried their best to tailor their offers to both on and offline customers. It nearly seemed as though a good number of retailers wanted to keep things as simple as possible. One example in Switzerland SIROOP.ch simply offered -15% on everything that they had on offer/stock/or sold for their partners.

On the one hand, very transparent for the consumer, but on the other hand not the best contribution margin-optimisation. Next to that, as a consumer, we found ourselves having to search for suitable products. Instead it is benefial to show a variety of different possible things that could interest us.

One of our main take aways from our A/B-Tests: We also noticed that ensuring that users could see all costs throughout the checkout process impacted positively on the overall customer experience. These include costs of each item, costs if any promo codes have been applied, costs of shipping and taxes etc. Anything not clearly visible to users or surprise created at any step in the checkout process tends to lead customers to abandon their carts.


Spreading deals out throughout the day helps

Amazon on the other hand, offered a far more price-driven approach around black friday and cyber monday. Of course promoting their own products first, but played with the components of time and scarcity a lot better. This helped keep the momentum going on the portal throughout the entire day. This surely also helped easy the server strain.  Siroop on the other hand, was hardly reachable in the early morning and early afternoon.

Our shops suffered a similar faith with User/Session number increases of over 400% compared to regular Sale-Day user numbers in the early morning. Session Peaks are a big strain on your servers. A spread out higher load is better than steep peaks. We therefore opted for a variety of offers, spread out over 18 hours.

This kept users coming back to our shops and secured an even server load throughout. This can be well-seen in the graph above. There was a high initial peak in our shops to raise the interest in the morning, followed by steady traffic.

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