Black Friday 2020 and Covid-19: How Is The Game Changing?

How Is Covid-19 Going To Impact Black Friday 2020?

Black Friday is around the corner again. It is a much-awaited festival for shopping enthusiasts and brands chasing spending sprees. Every year, Black Friday tends to be highly anticipated by shoppers, who expect cheap offers and discounts by the sellers during this time. Black Friday generally occurs on the first Friday after Thanksgiving. It is also reported that Black Friday derived its name from the Philadelphia Police Department reporting, which described the shopping chaos at downtown stores Friday after Thanksgiving.

A study of Black Friday events by analytics firm The Hustle showed that there had been 11 deaths and over 100 injuries due to Black Friday rush since 2006. The excitement around Black Friday is no longer limited to the USA alone – its origin – but has spread to all corners of the globe.

Black Friday also offers several opportunities to brands to clock up impressive sales numbers, and build more significant connections with their customers.

For example, analysts recorded Black Friday 2018 to be the busiest shopping day in terms of total transactions in Europe in 2018. There were 21 percent more transactions in Europe than the next busiest peak sales day, Singles’ Day, and 90 percent more transactions on Black Friday when compared to the average Friday in 2018 throughout Europe. 175 percent more was spent on these transactions than it was on an average Friday.

The pandemic of Covid-19 has induced global lockdowns, recession in economies, and retraction of funds by investors behind several retail and e-commerce start-ups. Hence, it was expected initially by industry insiders, until a month or two ago that brands will roll out far less offers this Black Friday season. The social distancing rules will also make managing the rush at stores not only more difficult but also unlikely.

However, according to several in-depth industry reports, major brands are prepared to roll out the Black Friday season like before. In fact, some retail brands have started rolling out Black Friday discounts from mid-October itself. But for sure, this time things are expected to be quite different.

For example, Walmart has announced that it will not hold extended in-store hours on Black Friday this year, but that it will increase the number of promotions available on its online channels.

The verdict, according to the industry is clear – consumers are expecting a shopping bonanza just like every other year, even with Covid-19. Just like a crisis creates opportunities and completely redefines the existing market landscape, so does the Black Friday 2020 beckons smart, innovative and nimble players to stake their claim, increase their market share and mindshare with the consumers.

Brands that want to take advantage of the opportunity presented the need to be prepared to roll-out the offers in a manner that is aligned with their country’s safety practices and also make agile and smart inventory decisions. It might mean making more rapid shifts to online channels as well as placing increased emphasis on the digitization of processes.

Making unexpected and rapid shifts to the online channels might place even greater pressure on an already stressed internet infrastructure for many e-commerce companies. News about network outages and e-commerce sites going down on days of heavy shopping has become even more common – and despite several advancements in the underlying technology, many vendors have failed to take good advantage of the strategies presented by these advancing technologies.

People are using smartphones more than ever before ( growing at 19% YoY) to access their favorite shopping websites and complete transactions. For people accessing via smartphones, the speed of website loading becomes even more crucial than is the case on desktop. Research shows that users on apps tend to be less sticky with the website or web app if the loading speed is slow or if the sections are not loading correctly.

The rise of social media, search engine optimization, and email channels have also given a boost to online channels and website optimization.

The verdict is clear for both established and new players in the industry- e-commerce websites need to invest greater than ever before into user experience in order to tap effectively into the massive market opportunity around the Black Friday 2020 shopping bonanzas.

Delivering an experience that is optimized on mobile devices and delivering fast loading speeds – even during periods of high traffic such as on peak days of Black Friday eve – are going to be crucial differentiators for brands.

Investing in CDN solutions can be a practical and strategic move for e-commerce brands that are attempting to position themselves for success and boost in online sales during this festive season. (Btw, The Definitive Checklist For a Robust E-commerce Website in 2020 can help you reshape your e-commerce website for the best)

A CDN utilizes a series of geographically separated and strategically located cache servers that store the website content. So, when a user requests a piece of content or tries to access a particular catalog on the website, the response is served from the cache server closest to the user. Traditionally, the request and response had to travel to the origin server and back.

CDN architecture

If you are wondering how much of a difference this caching of content makes – then the answer is that it does make a pretty significant difference: While front-end optimizations for websites and applications are relatively straightforward- the significant difference happens as a result of back-end optimizations.

On the back-end, the website information is generally stored in the website’s static servers which may be located in one part of the globe – say California. For the user from the east coast, or across the Atlantic, the request will have to travel to the origin server and will be reverted. Despite the advances in technologies such as optical fiber transmission and related technologies, the lag resulting from round-trip time can add up to become significant. A CDN significantly reduces round-trip time by serving the content from the CDN’s Point of Presence (PoP) – which tends to be in close vicinity.

Investing in a CDN also offers several other benefits. Also, you should pick a CDN that is immensely scalable, as you can immediately scale up or scale down according to your business requirements – saving you considerable costs when the resources tend to be under-utilized such as during the lean season.

A CDN also protects against DDoS attacks and other types of security concerns that may affect your server. By utilizing superior storage technologies, CDNs ensure that your content is delivered quickly, effectively and reliably to a scalable audience – which would come in handy especially for handling the surge in traffic that would be expected during the Black Friday rush.

At Medianova, we provide global CDN solutions in streaming, encoding, caching, micro caching, hybrid CDN, and website acceleration to ensure that your website performance is as desired even under peak traffic conditions.

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