For weeks now, all the focus in ecommerce has been on Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. Not just for the potential it always holds, but for the now typical uncertainty it brings. For the past couple of years, there has been something which has the potential to make or break Black Friday sales for retailers globally. In 2020 it was the pandemic, and in 2021 it was supply chain issues.
Each year brought its challenges, and each year Shopify merchants defied all expectations to break records. This year was no different.
So today, we’re going to take a look at the numbers coming out of Shopify as well as some of our own figures. We’ll also dive into what these numbers tell us about the immediate future of ecommerce, and what it means for merchants.
How did Shopify merchants perform over BFCM?
Let’s start with the big picture in the Shopify ecosystem. In 2019, Shopify merchants collectively pulled in $2.9 billion in sales over BFCM. This increased to $5.1 billion in 2020, and rose again to $6.1 billion in 2021. Those are some impressive figures, so did 2022 continue that growth?
Shopify merchants smashed 2021’s figures, bringing in a total of $7.5 billion over Black Friday weekend. If you weren’t keeping track of sales-per-minute over on their live map, Shopify reported that the peak sales-per-minute was reached at 12:01pm on Black Friday to the tune of $3.5 million.
As for how many people that translates to, that's around 52 million customers shopping with Shopify powered stores.
This represents a 12% increase from 2021. So there were more people shopping, as well as spending more. But which categories caught their attention?
The top three product categories were apparel and accessories, health and beauty, and home and garden. There may be few surprises there, as these categories are not only highly giftable, but desirable for personal use. Many customers wait to see what Black Friday deals they can snap up for themselves while they’re hunting for some good value gifts.
Black Friday weekend is always an interesting time to learn about customer behaviors and habits, and this year was no different. One behavior which many merchants pay close attention to is mobile vs desktop purchases.
73% of sales occurred on a mobile device, so 27% on desktop. This is in line with previous years, where mobile often reigns supreme. This is likely due to the fast-paced nature of Black Friday weekend, with mobile allowing for greater flexibility. Customers may be at work, commuting, or elsewhere away from their desktop computer. Mobile makes it easy for them to find and buy quickly.
Were people buying gift cards over Black Friday weekend?
The answer is a resounding yes - at least with merchants using Govalo. Many people don’t think of BFCM as an occasion to buy gift cards but in fact, we saw record year-on-year growth in the number of gift cards issued over the weekend. This can be largely attributed to the creativity from our merchants in how they chose to use and promote their gift cards during this time.
We’ll get back to that later, for now let’s talk numbers.
Over Black Friday weekend, 28x more gift cards were issued through Govalo compared to BFCM 2021. And if we break it down further, we have a fact that may just surprise you.
Govalo issued 20x more gift cards on Black Friday compared to 2021, which is impressive enough. But we actually issued double the number of gift cards on Cyber Monday over Black Friday this year. Yes, double.
As for the values of gift products powered by Govalo, let’s take a look at both gift cards and gift subscriptions.
The average value of a gift card was $41, and the average gift subscription was worth around $127.00. If you’re like us, you’re probably thinking about the potential retention value there in the new year when those are all redeemed.
This huge success is in no small part due to the innovation of merchants using Govalo. The most successful promotion we witnessed over BFCM was giving away free gift cards with qualifying orders. For example, The Nutr’s promotion offered not just a discount on products purchased but also a free gift card.
This gives customers the immediate Black Friday bargain they expect, with a valuable incentive that they’ll redeem later down the line. A big win for retention and increasing AOV as a result of gift products.
Another great example from over the weekend came from Curie who chose to run gift card only promotions over BFCM. This offered scaling rewards, so the more a customer spends, the higher the gift card value they receive.
This was powered by a unique rewards based feature we currently have in beta, and will be releasing widely to merchants in the near future. And Curie CEO, Sarah Moret, had some very encouraging feedback to share in the immediate aftermath of BFCM weekend.
This BFCM we ran a gift card promo w/ @fromgovalo. The only sitewide sale we've ever run is our Curie Day 20% off sale, so using that for comparison:— Sarah Moret (@thats_a_moret) November 28, 2022
1) Gift card promo helped us acquire more NEW customers than a % off sale (70% returning customers for Curie Day vs 28% for BFCM)
We essentially witnessed in real time the impact of gift card promotions - higher new customer acquisition, higher AOV, and lower CAC.
All of these figures and feedback is to say - don’t sleep on gift cards when it comes to promotions.
What we learned over BFCM
There’s still a lot of data to pour over and trends to analyze, but in the direct aftermath of Black Friday weekend we can already see some clear trends and truths emerging. We’re going to look at the top three we’ve gleaned from the data so far.
Ecommerce isn’t going anywhere
There has been some doom and gloom in the news over ecommerce and its place in retail compared to brick-and-mortar stores. Well, it was a record year for ecommerce, while foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores seemed to indicate more modest growth for in-person retail.
This isn’t an in-person or ecommerce debate, however. In fact, it highlights the need for more stores taking an omnichannel where possible, to target all their potential customers where they are at any given moment.
Mobile is still king for online shopping
The future of commerce is mobile, and has been for quite some time. Especially this year with the growth in social shopping on platforms like TikTok, the number of customers browsing and ordering on their mobile devices is constantly growing. And for yet another year in a row, mobile has come out on top as the primary channel for Black Friday shoppers.
It’s not just enough to have a mobile adaptive website, you need to create a full mobile-centric experience. The most successful stores over BFCM will have been those who were able to provide customers with a fast and responsive shopping experience. Mobile allows for flexibility which desktop simply can’t compete with. You can shop from quite literally anywhere with an internet connection.
The future of commerce will continue to edge further into mobile-first territory. The merchants who will come out on top will be those who take advantage of the flexibility and ease mobile experiences have to offer.
Customers love gift card promotions
Black Friday weekend is typically associated with discounts. While this can be great for the customer it does leave the merchant with a very big problem - very thin profit margins at a very crucial period of the year for sales. This is especially an issue at a time of high inflation and rising operational costs.
That’s where gift cards come to be extremely valuable. The initial acquisition cost is lower, as it’s only at the point of redemption you pay that fixed cost. Plus, customers typically spend over the value of a gift card and it’s a guaranteed retention tactic - they’re incentivized to spend the gift card. What’s more, this BFCM weekend customers proved they love gift card promotions.
So, next time you’re planning a promotion, consider trying out gift cards.