What the Data Says About Black Friday

NOVEMBER 5, 2015 • Blog Post • By Todd Wasserman, HPE Matter Contributor

IN THIS ARTICLE

  • Black Friday is being pushed earlier and earlier each year as retailers strive to attract customers with the best deals
  • Retailers are compiling and analyzing customer data to give the shoppers what they want—the best deals during the prime holiday shopping season

Infoscout CEO on how retailers can take advantage of mobile shopping trends

Nowadays, back to school ads hit in July and Halloween decorations go up in stores in August. So perhaps it should be no surprise that Black Friday gets earlier every year.

Jared Schrieber, CEO and co-founder of InfoScout, which analyzes shopper data in real time and recently reached 100 million receipts captured, said that it’s possible to see “Black Monday” deals as retailers push offers earlier in the week. “There's more shopping activity happening well before (Black Friday),” he says. “That's one of the surprises from last year, how much earlier in the year the activity has started.”

InfoScout's data is based on consumers who get paid for using the company's Receipt Hog app to photograph their receipts. That's one way that retailers are attempting to anticipate and maximize Black Friday this year. Retailers like Sears also mine their customer loyalty programs in an attempt to find “doorbuster deals” that will attract the crowds. Such data, when synched up with receipts, can yield offers that appeal to high-value, repeat shoppers, not just opportunistic Black Friday shoppers who will never return to the store after they buy their deeply discounted items.

  • 41% of shoppers buy their holiday gifts before November.

Smartphone-wielding shoppers

While the methods of data crunching improve over time, new variables are often thrown into the mix. For instance, in 2015, the smartphone is considered to be the center of the Black Friday universe. Last year was the first time mobile device browsing became the majority, with 52.1 percent of the share. Mobile purchases accounted for 27.9 percent of all sales. A study by Experian also found that for many categories, more email opens and email clicks occurred on smartphones than on desktops.

In addition, Schrieber says consumers are using their smartphones to do research both before and during their shopping trip. “It's almost like instead of showrooming, customers are 'webrooming,' doing research online and then going to the store to actually buy,” he says. Of course, shoppers still showroom and read reviews about items they're thinking about buying and then look for cheaper prices from online retailers.

Omnichannel opportunity

Given the prevalence of showrooming, Schrieber says retailers are still woefully behind when it comes to providing omnichannel solutions. Ideally, if a consumer visits a store, there should be a strong prompt for them to buy from that retailer's online store if an item isn't in stock. “What we found in our data last year was that a lot of people left the store and bought the item online from another retailer,” he says. “There's an opportunity for Walmart, Kohl's and Target, in particular, to do a much better job integrating online shopping opportunities for the people who visit their stores.”

Brick-and-mortar retailers have attempted to fight back by expanding their own apps' functionalities. The Kohl's app, for instance, lets customers earn a point for every dollar spent, with 100 points netting a $5 reward certificate. That certificate can be redeemed via a mobile wallet in the app. Shoppers can then redeem their points at checkout.

Macy's, meanwhile, has an app that lets consumers take a picture of something they like and then see if they can find similar items on Macys.com.

Then there's Walmart's Savings Catcher, which makes up the difference if a competitor has a lower price on a product. Here's how it works: If consumers pay a lower price at another store, they can use the app to scan the code at the bottom of your receipt or just send Walmart the receipt number. If the price checks out, the difference is made up on a Walmart Rewards eGift Card or a Bluebird by American Express Card.

Schrieber has another, more low-tech, tip for retailers: Provide an offer on paper receipts where shoppers can go to your online store and receive a discount.

Timing is everything

Based on last year's data, consumer electronics will continue to have a disproportionate sway on shoppers. Schrieber says that trends indicate that consumers tend to buy big-ticket electronics for the household early in the season and then buy items for individuals (like smartphones) later on.

But what is “early in the season?” For 12 percent of the population that means “before September,” according to the National Retail Federation. Another 41 percent of shoppers buy their holiday gifts before November. The primary reason for this is to stretch out their shopping budget while avoiding crowds and taking advantage of early promotions. On the other end of the scale, only 3.9 percent of shoppers say they buy their gifts in the last two weeks before Christmas.

All of which is to say that while Black Friday is still very much prime time for holiday shopping, it doesn't hurt to get an early start.

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