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Three predictions for Black Friday weekend (it still matters)

Black Friday weekend will be different this year, but retailers dismiss it at their peril.

In a traditional year, the five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, which goes by a variety of names including “Black Friday weekend,” marks the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season and is a major source of revenue for retailers. But in 2020, many experts and observers are predicting Black Friday weekend will be little more than an afterthought. 

Factors such as increased online shopping, the timing of the Amazon Prime Day sales promotion, and reduced consumer spending have all been cited as contributing to the demise of Black Friday. Here are three predictions that run counter to this view.

It will be big
The success of this year’s October edition of Amazon Prime Day, estimated to have generated more than $7 billion in U.S. revenue, is being presented as evidence consumers have already done their holiday shopping. 

While more than a few holiday gifts were surely purchased during Prime Day, a recent survey from e-commerce platform Tophatter indicates almost half of consumers are not starting holiday shopping until November (37%) or December (11%). Oracle data indicates about six in 10 consumers will spend the same or more on the holidays this year as they did in 2019. h

Most encouraging of all, according to Shopify research, 67% of U.S. consumers plan to shop during Black Friday weekend in 2020. And Prime Day’s continuing popularity demonstrates the lasting appeal of limited-time, super-savings events. 

Stores will play a crucial role
Predictions are mixed as to how many consumers will shop at brick-and-mortar stores during Black Friday weekend. Regardless of the number of shoppers that show up to browse shelves and stand in line, physical stores will prove vital to Black Friday success.

Countless retailers have launched or refined omnichannel shopping features this year, such as BOPIS, curbside pickup and on-demand delivery. Adobe predicts that BOPIS, including curbside pick-up, will have over 40% more orders during the 2020 holiday season than in 2019.

Stores need to have dedicated staffing, space and inventory to ensure omnichannel orders can be efficiently picked, packed and fulfilled. Omnichannel retailers should also utilize stores as last-mile distribution hubs for on-demand delivery orders. Underperforming locations should be evaluated as candidates to become dark stores, which do not serve in-store shoppers but strictly fulfill BOPIS, curbside, and/or delivery orders.

Prepare for trouble
Sharp increases in online retail traffic will tax e-commerce infrastructure and attract the attention of cybercriminals. If you have a cloud-based enterprise, be prepared to scale it up. At minimum, be ready to shift operations to backup servers, and make sure plenty of tech staffers are available to react quickly if a disruption occurs.

Also, all of this additional e-commerce activity is tempting for hackers, and criminals do not take time off for the holidays. Make sure to analyze site traffic and activity for unusual patterns, and pay extra close attention to any influx from third parties (such as service providers) that may have access to your systems during Black Friday weekend.

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