Skip to Main Content
Sign promoting Black Friday sales

Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday

How retailers can win both days

Over the past few years, North America’s in-store sales have fallen precipitously while online shopping has risen. This trend shows no sign of abating as digital devices become even more integral to daily life and shopping malls continue to close. 

E-commerce’s dominance is underscored in the 2019 sales figures for the weekend following Thanksgiving. Traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and informally kicks off the Christmas shopping season--with many stores promoting special sales to capitalize on the occasion. Just three days later, Cyber Monday is the retail industry’s relatively recent creation to boost internet sales.

Let's Start a Conversation

According to Adobe Analytics, this year online shoppers spent $7.4 billion on Black Friday and $9.4 billion on Cyber Monday. Neither day can be ignored in the digital space. But brick and mortar stores should not overlook Black Friday, despite the decline in year-round foot-traffic. A report from First Data Insights (now Fiserve) shows that 2019 Black Friday in-person sales saw a 4.2 percent increase over last year.   

Traditional physical retailers without a strong digital presence may be asking themselves whether it’s possible to compete with digital-native upstarts who have splintered their markets. Well, they can compete. And they can win. 

By embracing a philosophy of digital business transformation and delivering a better customer experience at every step along the way, businesses can hold onto (and even increase) their in-person sales while refining their e-commerce model so they are competitive with new arrivals. In other words, legacy businesses can win on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, in-person and over the internet. 

David Bernstein, the retail industry lead for North America at Publicis Sapient, said retailers need to manage to get “both their offers and value to customers and their technology and operations to handle the peak traffic flawlessly.”

“Those that only get one of the two (or neither) miss a massive opportunity to create happy customers during this busy holiday season as well as obviously create positive impact on their businesses,” Bernstein added.

Success in retail requires continued digital evolution of in-store environments and online. Companies can thrive during the holiday shopping season by reimagining how they conduct business internally and service their customers. By putting the customer first at every point, retailers can create lasting loyalty online and in-person in a way that seizes new markets and possibilities over the internet while protecting the core businesses.

$7.4 billion
Amount online shoppers spent this year on Black Friday
$9.4 billion
Amount spent on Cyber Monday
4.2 percent
Sales increase on Black Friday

Seizing new opportunities online 

Historically, companies providing a product or service of great value are almost guaranteed to grow under one condition: they must value the customer. But transitioning into the digital space comes with a torrent of other considerations. Growth, though important, isn’t enough on its own. Profitable growth in e-commerce requires prioritizing four fundamentals.

1. Supply chain optimization: Flexibility across multiple interconnected channels enables the agility necessary for fulfilling new market needs. 

2. Product selection, pricing, and promotion: Retailers can select the optimal inventory through comprehensive analysis and automated decision-making.

3. Customer acquisition/retention: Using data to drive new and repeat sales across different channels. 

4. Engineering transformation: Adapt quickly as the world of e-commerce continues to evolve.

Transitioning to e-commerce

Legacy brands have built powerful and successful e-commerce platforms by adopting comprehensive strategies that adhere to these interconnected goals.

Several years ago, Carrefour, the French multinational company that operates big-box stores throughout the world, faced a common problem that traditional retailers have confronted: customers increasingly wanting to shop over the internet. Unfortunately, Carrefour did not have a strong online presence.

In just six months, Carrefour developed a new ecommerce platform that’s delivered tremendous growth and allows frequent enhancements--evolution is baked into its DNA. From day one, Carrefour had a cohesive and unified vision for its digital future and started to operate as an “enterprise startup.” 

For over a century, Avon Products established itself as a leader in the cosmetics industry with its door-to-door beauty representatives and world-famous catalogue. However, Avon customers increasingly want to purchase makeup supplies online.

The beauty giant developed a mobile app that allows customers to flip through high-quality brochures featuring stylish models and inventory. But it also enables customers to contact their Avon representative any time of the day for beauty consultations and makeup recommendations. Avon saleswomen can track their sales goals and manage orders with the app.

Launching powerful platforms is only step one. Success during peak shopping periods require continued dedication to ensure everything flows smoothly. 

Sudip Mazumder, senior vice president and North America head of integrated delivery for Publicis Sapient, said the business transformation partner supported around $1 billion in online revenue during Cyber Week for its top North American retail clients.

“Some of big box retail clients handled up to 55K orders/hour during peak hours without any issues,” he added.


Four Fundamentals of E-Commerce Growth

Supply chain optimization
Flexibility across multiple interconnected channels enables the agility necessary for fulfilling new market needs.   

Product selection, pricing, and promotion
Retailers can select the optimal inventory through comprehensive analysis and automated decision-making.

Customer acquisition/retention
Using data to drive new and repeat sales across different channels.

Engineering transformation
Adapt quickly as the world of e-commerce continues to evolve.

Store of the future

It’s clear that brick and mortar stores cannot rest on the success of past models. Embracing a digital-first mentality could open avenues for growth but it’s important to make sure a company’s core business model is not abandoned. It’s true that e-commerce platforms have raised the stakes for what customers come to expect from a retailer’s physical locations.

Businesses can retain their current customers (and even attract more) by reimagining the experience from the moment they step through the front door until the moment they check out. 

Audi AG, the German automobile manufacturer, transformed its in-store experience. With more people flocking to major cities, many potential Audi customers were far away from the large showrooms afforded by the plentiful space in suburbia or the countryside. The urban car dealerships have always dealt with the issue of limited space preventing a thorough presentation of their complete range of vehicle models.

The car maker introduced a series of interactive, touch-screen tables, called Audi City. These let customers browse through the manufacturer’s full range of available model variants. Then, with one swipe, customers can project on the showroom wall a life-size image of the vehicle, which can be rotated and viewed from every angle. Not only does this allow potential buyers to narrow their options considerably before confronting the actual vehicles, but it’s a peak experience for car enthusiasts. Audi City resulted in a 70 percent increase in unit sales and a 90 percent increase in first-time Audi buyers. 

Building a New, Agile Retail Organization With Carrefour

The American coffee and donut giant Dunkin’, still commonly referred to by its original name, Dunkin’ Donuts, is another company that enhanced the in-store experience through digital innovation. Dunkin’s daily customers were accustomed to their traditional cardboard and tape menu boards when swinging by for their morning caffeine fix. But these boards weren’t too efficient. Numerous stores with diverse offerings by region meant the board needed to account for thousands of variations. Updates were cumbersome and it was difficult to make largescale changes. 

Dunkin’ created a digital menu board that trades static pictures for dynamic videos. In addition to the more appetizing display, these menu boards are web-based and easily customizable for each location. The new menu can offer drink recommendations based on the temperature outside and automatically switch from morning to afternoon offerings.

Winning in-person and online

These new in-store experiences from Audi and Dunkin’ show how businesses can keep enticing shoppers into their stores with creative and innovative technologies. Digital business transformation is not just relevant for online shopping. It’s about creating an environment that educates and entertains, fosters loyalty and compels customers to return. 

Looking at the data from Cyber Monday, some business owners might think it’s time to pack up shop and launch a completely new online operation. Though tempting, this would not take the necessary precautions to protect the brick and mortar operation already in place.

Legacy businesses without a digital presence need to adapt. But by expanding one’s notion of digital business transformation to include in-store experiences, retailers can succeed on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Having a multi-pronged approach will elevate the shopping experience and meet the consumers where they want--whether at your store or at their kitchen table.

--By Michael Walsh