Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 20/11/2018 (598 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Black Friday/Cyber Monday retail sales weekend is now the biggest retail event of the year.
And since so much shopping is now done online — it’s the Super Bowl of the e-commerce world with $123.4 billion worth of global sales projected to take place online in November and December this year — retailers not only have to have a good strategy, but they need to have the technical tools to execute all that digital commerce.
That’s why this week at Bold Commerce, the Winnipeg company that makes popular apps for the 600,000 merchants worldwide who use the Shopify e-commerce platform, it doesn’t matter if you’re a senior developer or account executive, everyone in the company is in support holding customers’ hands through the explosion of activity that takes place over the course of a few short days.
Bold is the largest of Shopify’s 80,000 partners, with about 260 employees. Its apps, like Bold Upsell and Bold Bundles, are some of the most popular tools retailers use to customize sales, most of which can be configured to run special sales over the course of few hours on Black Friday.
Even loyalty and subscription apps can be transformed to become Black Friday discount specials.
Jason Myers, a co-founder of Bold and vice-president of growth, said the sudden volume of online activity invariably causes technical disruptions, and during the long hours and late nights during the week, e-commerce professionals lay a few side bets predicting which brand name might crash.
Five years ago, when Bold Commerce was only about a year old and had about 8,000 stores using its apps — it’s now up to about 100,000 — it had a major problem with its servers on Black Friday but had the problem solved in time for Cyber Monday.
"We had 8,000 retailers and we lost about 1,500," he said. "It was the worst day for us, but also in some ways, the best day. It really changed our view and opened our eyes to what Black Friday was. We vowed we would never go down again."
The company has grown dramatically — 40 to 70 per cent per year — as has the phenomenon of online shopping for deals on Black Friday. Shopify’s statistics show that online sales have increased about 16 per cent per year for the past few years, and the same kind of growth is expected again this year.
About 50 per cent of retailers scramble at the last minute to put together their Black Friday sales programs, and Bold’s service support requests are up by a factor of 10 during this week.
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And, while there is all sorts of technology to generate online sales — more than $5 billion globally on Black Friday and close to $7 billion on Cyber Monday — it’s still such a new phenomenon that retailers have to feel their way through the avalanche.
"Are they going to get one million views or 100 million views? They just don’t really know, and you can’t prepare for it." Myers said. "In a brick-and-mortar retail store, at least you can see the lineup outside. Online, you just don’t know."
Eric Boisjoli, Bold’s chief technology officer and one of the four co-founders, said Bold is now ready on its end with access to about four times the capacity it would normally have in order to handle between five million and 12 million hits per hour on Bold’s apps.
"Let’s say we normally see growth of about two per cent month over month," he said.
"With Black Friday, it’s several times greater all in the space of an hour. We are a lot better set up to handle those spikes now."
Martin Cash Reporter
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.
On average, Black Friday shoppers expect to spend $1,007.24 each. Of that, they'll spend $637.67 on gifts. Another $215.04 will go for food, decorations, flowers, and greeting cards. They'll also spend $154.53 to take advantage of the seasonal deals and promotions.
The best Black Friday deals are, surprisingly, not on Black Friday. Many retailers, including Amazon, offer deals earlier and earlier, upstaging Black Friday itself. The competition this year is so fierce, stores are innovating new ways to get your dollar.
Most deals for electronics are offered at the beginning of November.
The best day for Christmas decor is November 22. Discounts are 23 per cent on average. The best day to buy toys is the day before U.S. Thanksgiving.
The number of deals hit their peak the week before Thanksgiving. The average in-store discount is 20 per cent for the entire week. That discount increases to 37 per cent on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Saturday.
Online sales are the best on Thanksgiving Day (Sunday), not Black Friday. The average discount is 24 per cent. It's the best day to find online discounts for sporting goods, computers, apparel, and video games.
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Updated on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 at 9:50 PM CST: Adds photo