BFCM 2020: The big issues and how to tackle them

| By Kelly Vaughn

BFCM 2020: The big issues and how to tackle them

Let’s get the obvious out the way; 2020 has been a very unusual year to say the least. Between changes to everyday life brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, to the upcoming US election, there are a few big ticket issues that are set to make Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend complicated to navigate. We’re here to paint a realistic picture of what’s affecting BFCM this year, and how you can best develop a strategy that takes those issues into consideration.

What are the issues affecting BFCM this year?

Uncertainty around coronavirus

At the start of nationwide lockdowns and travel restrictions, it was hard to predict what markets and even life would look like a few months down the line. In a similar vein as first waves die down and the potential for a second wave exists, people and businesses will be hesitant about making decisions. 

Impact of nationwide lockdown rules

It’s difficult to predict how lockdown will affect brick-and-mortar sales on BFCM weekend, but there’s no doubt that there will be some impact. The days of rushing down to a store for a hot deal may well be over, meaning that there will be more people shopping online for a bargain instead. Throughout lockdown there was a big uptick in ecommerce sales, therefore we may see this trend continue through to BFCM.

Massive growth in the ecommerce space

You may have seen all the headlines about the growth in ecommerce over the last few months, and whilst this is a good thing for the industry it also means higher competition come BFCM weekend. Brick-and-mortar stores took the plunge and got online, and many of those that were already online saw an increase in sales. On top of this, consumers were shopping more online during periods of lockdown as they weren’t able to go to physical stores, so this also contributed to ecommerce growth. As these stores reopen, the level of growth in online sales may start to decline steadily therefore it’s important to prepare for that in your BFCM strategy.

Rise in unemployment

It’s an unfortunate consequence of the pandemic, but unemployment rates are higher than they’ve ever been before. This is a sensitive issue that you need to take into consideration with a great deal of empathy. People may be more cautious on spending too much in the run up to the holidays if they’re still on furlough, if someone in their immediate family has been made redundant, etc.

US Election

For much of the year the upcoming election understandably flew under the radar, but now as campaigns ramp up and time ticks down to November it’s the topic on everyone’s minds. In the last couple of weeks before the election, most people won’t be thinking about BFCM and a lot of social media feeds and ad space will be dominated by news about campaigns and the election in general. Consider this when you’re planning your own campaigns, and strategize accordingly.

Large brands with large budgets

The growth in ecommerce is more likely to affect competition among small to medium sized businesses rather than enterprise level ones. Meaning that you’re likely to have more competitors, and that means more small brands fighting for advertising reach on limited budgets. This means that large brands with sizable budgets are more likely to dominate ad placements.

How to approach your BFCM strategy

Be ready to adapt

The best thing you can do for your BFCM strategy is to make sure each element is easy to adapt. Have plans and contingencies in place for if you need to change anything whether that’s your website copy, product development plans, photography, social media, etc. Have a couple of situations mapped out related to issues that would affect your business or your customers and how your brand can quickly respond to them. 

Build issues into your plan, not around them

The best thing you can do for your business in planning is to make sure these issues are built into your strategy rather than trying your best to avoid them. People know these issues exist, and they want brands who are genuine and sympathetic. Building these in doesn’t necessarily mean having to talk about them in marketing material, but more to do with thinking about them as you plan. For example, including shipping and delivery information clearly on your site in case of any delays, considering what demographics you’re targeting your ads towards, what promotions you want to run and who for, etc.

Use your store data effectively

Your store data over the last few months compared to the same period last year will likely look very different. This makes it a bit more difficult to make predictions or plan, because the climate you’re operating in is vastly different to last year. Instead, look at the trends in your store data from the last few months, trends from your BFCM performance last year, and try to spot some similarities and differences and reasons for each. Figure out what your customers are really looking for right now, and try to cater to that. Use data for location demographics as well so you can better target ads, helping you to use your ad dollars effectively.

Listen to your customers

We’ve spoken before on our blog about the importance of speaking to your customers, and that’s going to be especially important going into BFCM 2020. Ask your customers for feedback, and continuously review what your target demographics are thinking about in the run up to Black Friday. Use your own feedback as well as feedback you’re seeing elsewhere in opinion polls, and surveys and research conducted by ecommerce platforms such as Shopify.

Stay on top of current events and trends

This is part of being ready to adapt, because how will you know to adapt if you don’t know what’s happening out in the world? Keep a close watch on the news and on ecommerce trends so that you’re ready to make a quick and informed move. Being up to date on the issues that may affect your customers or your business is essential for your BFCM planning this year.

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