SUMMARY: Online sales were set to increase between about 20 and 40 percent from 2019 levels on Black Friday, according to estimates from Adobe, although the analytics group pared back earlier forecasts for an even bigger jump. It recorded $5.1bn worth of eCommerce orders on Thanksgiving — almost half from smartphones. The key question is will this trend last?
Online sales increased because people are afraid to go shopping. While there are stories about people ignoring safeguards, the majority, 72%, of people are staying away from restaurants and back and mortar stores. Like Wal*Mart, and Target, some retailers have been successful in competing with Amazon.com because they invested in the user experience.
While online sales continue to spike some are getting headlines saying this is the end of brick and mortar shopping. That would be a huge mistake.
Consumers have “cabin fever” and are anxious to go on vacations, go out to eat, and shop in stores once the pandemic shows signs of control. As a result, online sales will decline,, but they won’t decline completely if online shoppers have a great experience.
Unfortunately, for a lot of online brands, the user experience extends to shipping and returns. Packages arriving late or damaged will lead to angry shoppers, and paying for returns will add more anguish.
The solution of course is to emulate Amazon.com but that takes investment in people and logistics. Online merchants spend a lot of money to get customers but they don’t spend enough to keep them.
Target and Wal*Mart can handle the logistics because they have stores in most cities, but other retailers might find a huge pallet of returned goods awaiting them after Christmas and might not be prepared to issue a lot of refunds.
Once the pandemic is a distant, bad memory, people are going to come out in droves. Some behaviors might change, but consumers still love to shop.