The most digital Black Friday ever: e-commerce and online marketing content

Subject:  Economy and Business
One person with a laptop and a credit card

Faculty of Economics and Business course instructor and digital marketing expert, Neus Soler, takes a look at Black Friday 2020.

According to an Ipsos study, 45% of Spanish people say they buy more online now than they did before the pandemic. Forecasts for this year's Black Friday indicate that digital retail channels will dominate, with 70% of those surveyed indicating that they plan to shop online.

The Library service has published two guides on e-commerce and digital marketing to help readers gain an in-depth understanding of how e-commerce works, its influence and the relevant rules of the game.

Will Black Friday be different this year as a result of COVID?

Absolutely, because now there are additional consumer profiles for online purchasing. Post lockdown, we have seen older groups of the population that have previously been reluctant to buy online now feeling more comfortable with it, which, together with their possible reluctance to go out to shop in traditional stores because they are afraid of the risk of infection, leads us to assume that these new online shoppers will turn to the internet for Black Friday as well.

What are the challenges for small and medium-sized businesses competing against the digital giants?

First and foremost, they need to be digitized so that they can offer a range of products online. They don't need to invest in an expensive website. They can manage their online sales through digital platforms (such as Amazon), social media (such as Facebook or Instagram) and certain apps (such as WhatsApp). They also need to offer their customers a shopping experience that big retail outlets will not provide: proximity (both physical and in terms of service), expert product knowledge, professional service, etc. There is also the market expansion that is generated on the basis of product digitization and differentiation, which means they have the potential to reach markets in other regions, and even overseas (internationalization).

Do you have any tips which might help small retailers boost their internet sales?

I would suggest that they take advantage of the online sales platforms offered by local chambers of commerce, councils and small business associations and use the platforms operated by digital giants in order to generate visibility for their product that wouldn't be possible through their own e-commerce channel. They should also focus on building a relationship with customers, both in-store and through social media.

In terms of physical stores, what can they do to improve sales, despite the limitations of the pandemic?

El gran problema que tenen molts petits i mitjans comerciants és que no s'ocupen de conèixer les novetats del sector. Els caldria assistir més a les fires, visitar la competència (les cadenes, que tant mal els fan, però que els poden marcar moltes pautes també), informar-se mitjançant les xarxes, etc. També haurien de treballar amb diversos proveïdors per aconseguir un assortiment ampli de producte, i condicionar les seves botigues per crear al client un ambient envolupant. Es tracta que el client obtingui una experiència de compra satisfactòria, cosa que significa que se li ha de crear un ambient ideal i se li ha d'oferir un valor afegit. El client ha de poder trobar el producte amb rapidesa, ha d'identificar les ofertes fàcilment, se li ha d'oferir una atenció personalitzada (que no passa únicament pel fet que sigui amable, sinó empàtica i professional), i s'ha d'intentar que no es formin cues. La tecnologia hi pot ajudar enormement, i hi ha opcions que no són gaire costoses.

Could you give us an example?

The use of QR codes to enable customers to access additional product information, or devices that facilitate online shopping in physical stores to avoid queuing to pay. There are also some cheap, ingenious solutions for catering to individual customer preferences, a perfect example of which is the different-coloured shopping basket scheme introduced by the beauty retail chain, Sephora, which respects the decision of those customers who prefer to browse without being approached by store staff and those who would prefer some assistance. This is a simple, cost-effective solution that adds value for both kinds of customer.

And do you have any recommendations for consumers on Black Friday?

That they make planned purchases. That they only buy products they really need or, if they want to treat themselves, that they set themselves a budget. And that they shop just as they would normally without the discounts, i.e., making secure online purchases, comparing prices and also being mindful of the fact that quality has a price (top quality products won't be given away). Similarly, to be aware of the fact that their consumer rights are exactly the same as when they buy at a regular price (product exchanges and returns), although, in the case of online shopping, they may be asked to assume the cost of postage.

What are your predictions for this Black Friday? Do you think it will be a record-breaking year for online purchasing?

Definitely. Shopping centres are still closed in lots of areas and in bigger stores (over 800 m2), either certain spaces are still closed or customer movement is restricted so that they have to wait for a member of staff to come and serve them. Just that alone doesn't make for a good shopping experience and if you add concern about contracting the virus on top of this, plus the addition of new buyer profiles to online shopping, there is little doubt that this Black Friday will break digital purchasing records. In fact, a recent study by Google suggests that online shopping will lead the way for Black Friday this year: "70% of consumers will make their purchases through this channel (50% exclusively online and 20% through omni-channel outlets)."

Interested in finding out more?

The Library team has produced two in-depth guides:

  • E-commerce: learning resources, articles and websites containing introductory information on selling products online and related concepts: business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) commerce.
  • Digital marketing: information on SEO optimization techniques to improve the positioning of content, tools to develop a social media plan and resources on web analytics.