Every year in ecommerce we build up to Black Friday weekend - it’s consistently one of the biggest shopping periods of the year across the board. Yet despite all the planning, research, and time that goes into it, it feels like it goes by in a flash. Just like that, BFCM 2021 is over and we are well and truly deep in the holiday shopping season.
While there are still plenty of sales ongoing and lots of time left before the end of the holidays, let’s take a look at the data coming out of Shopify that shows just how important BFCM still is in the commerce calendar.
BFCM 2021: Facts and Figures
Total global sales
One of the most exciting figures to come out of BFCM every year is always the total global sales.
Drum roll please...
Across the globe, stores powered by Shopify totalled $6.3 billion across Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. This is a huge increase of 23% from 2020, and double 2019’s sales figures.
Smashing records faster than ever
Not only did global total sales go far and above that of 2020, merchants around the world were smashing sales records faster than ever before.
By 4am EST on Black Friday, total global sales had already surpassed $1 billion - that’s 4 hours earlier than in 2020. Not only that, but at peak sales Shopify saw $3.1 million in sales per minute. The popularity of Black Friday around the world is clearly growing, as more international Shopify merchants get online.
Independent and DTC businesses come out on top
Continuing on from last year, Direct-to-Consumer sales are once again the global leader.
The number of customers that shopped with independent and DTC merchants topped 47 million - that’s 3 million more than in 2020. People want to shop independent, directly from the brands they love most.
Cross-border sales are growing
Shopify has made a big effort over the last few years to grow their global network of merchants and increase the number of tools to facilitate greater international growth. This year at Shopify Unite, announcements included their new Payments platform to make it easier for merchants to provide customers with their preferred payment methods, as well as later introducing Shopify Markets.
Cross-border sales accounted for 15% of total global sales over BFCM. This demonstrates the impact that of Shopify’s increased development into international ecommerce, and we’re looking forward to seeing what this figure looks like in 2022 as international merchants continue to come on board and sell globally.
Mobile and social are more important than ever
The past couple of years have changed how we interact with technology and commerce. With more merchants getting online in 2020 in response to the pandemic, to greater demand for online-to-offline fulfillment, plus how our interactions online have continued to merge, it’s clear to see how this was reflected in BFCM sales.
Mobile purchases made up 71% of global sales across BFCM, and sales generated by social integrations tripled.
What affected BFCM this year?
As in 2020, we published an article a couple of months ahead of Black Friday outlining the issues we could see making an impact on BFCM weekend. It can be difficult to accurately determine exactly how much impact these issues would and have had, but their effects can certainly be seen.
The primary issue leading up to Black Friday has been all over the news for the last couple of months - supply chain issues. This would impact both merchants receiving stock into their warehouse, as well as fulfillment chain actually getting products to customers. That could have meant a number of things such as more out-of-stocks and anxiety over orders arriving in time. In fact, we seen that there was a much higher intention from customers of starting their shopping much earlier than in previous years. This was combined with many brands starting their sales much earlier also. The expectation would perhaps be that this would result in lower BFCM sales, as holiday spending would be more spread out. However, we can clearly see in total sales figures for BFCM weekend that this was not the case and in fact sales significantly increased over 2020.
Other issues that had the potential to impact BFCM were increased consumer expectations. This has been reflected in data around mobile and social commerce; while mobile sales are only up 4% from 2020, there was a huge increase in social integrations impacting checkouts. What this tells us is that consumers want more social integration in their shopping experiences, and the brands that offered this over BFCM were definitely rewarded.
With fewer restrictions this year than last, it was expected that in-store shopping may impact sales for Black Friday as more customers hit the high street for their BFCM bargains. While foot traffic on Black Friday itself was up from 2020, it still didn’t come close to pre-pandemic levels showing a strong preference for online shopping.
With the United Kingdom having officially left the European Union in January 2021, higher fees and more complicated import/export regulations left a question mark over cross-border sales from UK merchants. It’s interesting then to see that one of the most popular cross-border sales routes was actually UK to USA, perhaps demonstrating how UK brands may recouped the potential difficulty in EU export by instead gaining more American customers.
2020 was an unusual and unpredictable year to say the least, and this continued well into 2021. Between supply chain issues, Brexit, increasing digital expectations, and more, merchants certainly weren’t faced with the easiest of tasks. In spite of this, across the Shopify global network, it has been another year for the record books.
3 things to focus on from BFCM 2021
Keep building your omnichannel experience
One of the most interesting facts to come out of BFCM 2021 has certainly been how much sales as a result of social integration have grown. These provide a much more seamless experience, as customers were able to get to checkout faster to snap up deals they discovered on social platforms. This along with increased mobile sales clearly demonstrates that customer expectations have changed - they not only want omnichannel experiences, but they expect them. Going into the new year, merchants should focus on how they can further integrate their various sales channels to develop a truly omnichannel experience.
Build lasting, meaningful relationships
This year’s BFCM figures have shown a clear, ongoing desire for customers to spend their holiday dollars with independent and DTC merchants. However, in order to make this last through the holidays merchants need to continue to foster those relationships. To do this, continue to find new ways to improve the post-purchase experience including retention strategies. Make your customers feel like they’re important; use personalization to deliver more tailored experiences, which will ultimately deliver more value.
Balance supply chain with international growth
While sales were up, that doesn’t mean the supply chain is any less difficult to manage. In fact, how merchants strengthen their supply chain will be crucial in the year ahead. Especially with growth in cross-border sales, it’s vital to learn lessons from 2021 supply chain issues so that merchants can better weather the storm in the future should these issues crop up once again.