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November 12, 2021

Black Friday 2021: Multichannel shopping expectations and delivery challenges this holiday season

Black Friday is a global success, as millions of customers turnout year-after-year to score the best prices for products they are hankering to purchase. Following COVID-19 in 2020 and the continued effects that it has had on retailers, Black Friday 2021 is expected to be a little different, as more customers choose multichannel shopping over the traditional in-store-only experience.

Below we discuss what retailers can expect on Black Friday in 2021, the challenges they will face, and the tools they need to create a seamless in-store and online shopping experience for their customers.

What will 2021 look like on Black Friday?

As Black Friday has grown in popularity worldwide, online sales have experienced an upward trajectory. For smaller retailers that squeaked through surviving 2020’s COVID curveball without a Click-and-Collect option, it is clear the time has come for a digital transformation. Consumers have spoken, and they have made it clear: online shopping must be an option, or your business will not get their business.

Click-and-Collect, BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup in Store) and BOPIL (Buy Online Pickup in Locker) solve a multitude of problems. According to Modern Retail, “At the beginning of 2020, eMarketer predicted that $50.66 billion in sales would transact via the Click-and-Collect format. By the end of 2020, that forecast had increased to $58.52 billion, an increase of 15.5% over the original estimate.” With variants of COVID keeping the possibility of future shutdowns in the news, consumers are unlikely to abandon the protective behaviours they’ve come to think of as normal, particularly when those behaviours come with benefits like the ability to choose when and where to pick up their purchases.

The importance of Multichannel strategies

As we look towards Black Friday for 2021, it’s worth sharing some key take-aways from NRF 2021: Retail’s Big Show – Chapter 1. One was the importance of integrating touchpoints: think multichannel moving forward. Using Click-and-Collect is an excellent opportunity to provide incentives for in-store purchases. For instance, if you use parcel lockers, you can include a coupon for the next visit when you put a customer’s item in the locker for pick up. The goal is to make online shopping and in-store visits natural extensions of each other.

The effects of last-mile on Black Friday

As we all experienced, COVID was highly disruptive to the supply chain. It trained us to be attuned to shipping promises—and delays. To that end, “Shoppers are growing more interested in visibility of the supply chain and the behind-the-scenes process of how merchandise reaches the sales floor. Before they make the trip, consumers want to understand how much of a specific product is available, at what location, and how fast they can get it,” said Carrie Tharp, vice president of retail and consumer at Google Cloud.

Digital Commerce 360 published The Cyber 5 Holiday Report in December 2020. They predicted that many adjustments made to manage until the pandemic is over will continue indefinitely, particularly when it comes to fulfilment. For instance, due to disruptions in the supply chain, retail chains began to use individual stores as micro-fulfilment centres, adding “… fulfilment options like Click-and-Collect, curbside pick-up, ship from store, and buy online, return in-store.”

Because shipping delays were a big problem during COVID, we expect consumers to shop earlier this year. They do not want a repeat of the disappointment they experienced when presents didn’t arrive on time due to circumstances beyond their control.

Click-and-Collect: The key to Black Friday success

It is irrefutable that online shopping has taken off in recent years. Earlier, we might have argued that post-COVID, pent-up demand for in-person shopping would cause a dip in online shopping as consumers rushed back to stores. At this point in the year, however, with COVID variants making headlines and case numbers rising and falling (and rising again), it’s more likely that this year’s Black Friday, up to and including Cyber Monday, will be a continuation of the last few years with a further increase in online sales.

The best way to combat the lingering effects of the pandemic is to combine online and in-store shopping to create an experience that will draw traffic. Click-and-Collect should be considered a table stake heading into the next holiday shopping season.

Quadient and you

Contact us to learn more about how Quadient can help your retail store provide a flawless experience for your customers for Black Friday and beyond.

Download a complimentary copy of our white paper “Black Friday: A global sales phenomenon” to learn more.