Brands Overcome Inventory Issues on Black Friday, Says Bluecore; 8% Fewer Sales, But 9% Higher Order Values Than Last Year

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The Retail Technology Company Reports That While Brands Struggled to Convert 69% of Shoppers Who Encountered Out-of-Stock Items, Brands That Prioritized Product Discovery Were Able to Salvage up to 38% of These Shoppers

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–With inventory shortages spurring American consumers to shop earlier this year, Black Friday 2021 sales decreased by 8% and site traffic decreased by 5% compared to last year, according to new insights from Bluecore. The marketing technology company that transforms casual shoppers into lifetime customers for 400+ retail brands, reports that despite widespread inventory concerns, average order values still increased by 9% and an average of only 4% of products, across brands, were out of stock. Consumer electronics brands, however, took a hit with more than 40% of products out of stock and the only noted decrease (-4%) in average order values. The complete report is available here.

For the fourth year in a row, Bluecore looked at shoppers’ real-time and historical Black Friday shopping patterns, as well as their product interactions and purchases, across 153 retail brands and 8 retail categories: Apparel (47), Sporting Goods (22), Footwear (21), Health & Beauty (19), Home Goods (15), Jewelry (11), Specialty Gifting (11), and Consumer Electronics (7). The result is a comprehensive look at this year’s day-of Black Friday behaviors, as well as a comparative look at Black Friday 2020.

Bluecore analyzed 4.5 billion shopper events on brands’ ecommerce sites, including shoppers viewing products, abandoning products, adding products to cart, conducting keyword searches and completing sales transactions. The resulting data was derived from 348 million first-party cookies, 502 million cart events, 3 million unique products, 33 million orders and $4 billion in total sales, representing billions in gross merchandising value (GMV) for hundreds of retailers.

Key Finding from Bluecore’s Black Friday 2021 Report include:

  • Retail brands saw an average of 8% fewer purchases, but 9% higher average order values on Black Friday 2021 vs. Black Friday 2020. Difference in AOVs compared to 2021, by category: Home Goods (+24%), Apparel (+13%), Jewelry (+13%), Footwear (+8%), Health & Beauty (+6%), Specialty Gifting (+6%) and Consumer Electronics (-4%).
  • Inventory issues had the largest impact on Consumer Electronics brands. Consumer Electronics brands experienced an average of 41% products out of stock, while other categories experienced less significant inventory shortages: Home Goods (8% of all products were out of stock), Sporting Goods (6%), Jewelry (5%), Apparel (4%), Health & Beauty (2%), Footwear (1%), and Specialty Gifting (1%).
  • Brands lost between 62% to 93% of shoppers who encountered out-of-stock products. Apparel brands were the most well equipped to convert these shoppers to different products, with 38% of shoppers that encountered out-of-stock products purchasing another item from the same brand. Consumer Electronics brands were able to convert only 7% of shoppers that encountered out-of-stock items.
  • 52% of all Black Friday purchases were made by first-time shoppers. This is 8% fewer first-time buyers than they experienced on Black Friday 2020.
  • 48% of brands’ Black Friday purchases were from existing shoppers. Brands saw an average of 11% increase in repeat customers, compared to Black Friday 2020.
  • Nearly 60% of shoppers bought on impulse, while 42% planned ahead. Shoppers viewed products across categories an average of 10 times before purchasing. Shoppers viewed the most products, the most times, when shopping for Apparel (8.54 products, 17.97 views). Jewelry and Home Goods were also considered purchases, with shoppers viewing Jewelry items 12.95 times each and Home Goods items 12.55 times each.
  • Wedges, mules and flats saw the highest increase in YoY Black Friday purchases of any other Apparel or Footwear items, with wedges seeing a 12,259% increase in sales since Black Friday 2020, mules seeing a 701% increase, and flats seeing a 302% increase.

    • Other products that experienced the most significant increase in demand were watches (222%), traditional/ceremonial clothing (126%), pocket squares (124%), pants (111%), heels (97%), hats (72%), and sleepwear/loungewear (50%).
  • By contrast, Facemasks, hiking boots and neckties saw the largest decrease in demand, with facemasks seeing a 74% decrease in sales since Black Friday 2020, hiking boots seeing a 72% decrease, and neckties seeing a 67%% decrease.

    • Other products that experienced the most significant decrease in demand were gloves & mittens (-65%), loafers & moccasins (-52%), shorts (-48%), necklaces (-41%), dresses (-38%), sandals (-38%) and bracelets (-37%).
  • Average order values remain steady as shoppers buy again and again from brands. Shoppers purchasing for the first time spent an average of $130, while shoppers purchasing for the second time spent $117. Third time shoppers spent $124 and fourth time shoppers spent $121. These numbers confirm previous data from Bluecore that the value of an individual shopper that makes multiple purchases over time, compounds. This leads to exponential profitability with each subsequent purchase. Given the rising costs of new customer acquisition in comparison to the relatively lower cost of driving each additional purchase, retailers should be investing heavily in retention as a growth strategy.

“Considering that 48% of this year’s Black Friday shoppers were repeat buyers and that average order values are remaining stable as shoppers buy one, two, three and even four times from the same brand, it’s clear that retailers are shifting their focus away from purely acquiring one-time shoppers and instead investing in marketing that focuses on a longer life cycle,” said Fayez Mohamood, CEO of Bluecore. “The one-and-done customer acquisition tactics that once prevailed in the early stages of direct-to-consumer retail are being replaced by strategies designed to drive long-term profitability through the creation of compelling and personalized shopper moments across digital channels.”

“Black Friday continues to be treated as a major customer acquisition event for retailers, but retail brands are increasingly viewing acquisition as merely the first step in a longer-term customer journey. This is evidenced by the overall increases in second, third and fourth-time buyers across all categories,” added Sherene Hilal, SVP of Marketing and Operations at Bluecore. “This year’s insights reveal that retailers are investing heavily in heightened product discovery as part of a larger lifecycle marketing approach that prioritizes retention metrics, such as increased order values, repeat buyers and how the value of those customers increases with each subsequent purchase.”

Bluecore’s AI-driven technology allows retailers to launch completely personalized multi-channel campaigns at scale by predicting what customers need to see next, and curating products, content, and offers, specific to each shopper’s interactions with the brand. The company drives significant increases in revenue for the 400+ retail brands it works with, including Express, Tommy Hilfiger and The North Face, by connecting first party shopper data and living product catalog to predict and execute on the exact experience a shopper should receive to convert across owned and paid digital channels.

About Bluecore

Bluecore is a marketing technology company that’s transforming casual shoppers into lifetime customers for the world’s fastest growing retail brands. Through its patented shopper and product matching and the release of Bluecore Communicate™, Bluecore Site™, and Bluecore Advertise™ brands are now able to personalize 100% of communications delivered to consumers through their email, ecommerce and paid media shopping experiences. Bluecore replaces manual processes with an intelligent, AI-driven workflow, allowing brands to manage these communications through a single interface. In 2019, the company bet big on itself when it introduced the industry’s first shared-success pricing model. It’s now credited with doubling email revenue, and increasing customer retention, lifetime value and overall speed to marketing for more than 400 brands, including Express, Tommy Hilfiger, NOBULL, Teleflora, and Bass Pro Shops.

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