Black Friday has always been complicated. From the in-person shopping frenzies of years past to the explosion in eCommerce, the holiday shopping experience is a whirlwind for consumers and retailers alike. In addition, changing trends and permanent shifts in consumer behavior have forced retailers and digital marketers to adapt. With the holiday shopping season well underway, we’ve witnessed many of the same complexities as previous years, with some notable changes in shopper traffic, retail strategies, and consumer expectations. Here’s a by-the-numbers look at what Black Friday 2021 meant for retailers, consumers, and SEO professionals.
In-Store Shopper Traffic Down 28.3%
While Black Friday shopping in 2021 increased 48% compared to 2020, in-store shopper traffic remained below pre-pandemic levels, down 28.3% compared to 2019. At the same time, data also shows that 65% of U.S. customers still plan to shop in-store this holiday season for product-related reasons. Even if they don’t buy in-store, many customers prefer to browse gift ideas and see or test products in person before making final purchase decisions.
This data aligns with previous holiday shopping predictions for 2021, especially regarding the expectations customers had going into the season. Right off the bat, a large number of retailers promoted their Black Friday sales as early as October, hoping to spread holiday traffic peaks throughout the season rather than packing large crowds into stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. To complement this approach, many of these same retailers closed their stores on Thanksgiving Day, and visits to physical stores declined by 90.4 % compared to 2019.
While retailers did this primarily for the sake of customer experience, labor shortages, supply chain challenges, and shipping delays continue to play crucial roles in the 2021 holiday shopping experience. Consumers are shopping earlier to ensure their gifts arrive on time, with retailers turning to data-driven solutions and increased eCommerce efforts with the same goal in mind.
Retailers and Consumers Embrace Unified Commerce Options
Despite worries over supply chain delays and out-of-stock issues, many retailers rose to the challenge with a combination of old-school sales tactics and new-school methods. Unified commerce options like buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS), and buy online, pickup at curbside (BOPAC) continued to ease customer concerns about long lines and large crowds. At the same time, retailers replaced traditional layaway options with buy now, pay later (BNPL) options to help customers continue their yearly splurging on holiday gifts.
Made possible through platforms like Klarna and Affirm, these installment-based payment systems are set to be the hallmark of the year, with BNPL-based spending up 422% and order volume up 438%, according to Adobe Digital Insights. Likewise, Black Friday research from ACI Worldwide suggests that options like these might help customers cope with higher prices. While the volume of eCommerce transactions remained the same YOY, their value appears to have doubled, pushing consumers to embrace these BNPL methods.
Online Sales Continue to Outpace Brick and Mortar
Findings like those above combined with 2021 holiday shopping reports have proven yet again that Black Friday isn’t just for brick and mortar retailers. The report details that online shoppers accounted for 88 million of the day’s total number of shoppers compared to the 65.6 million that returned to physical stores. Likewise, Adobe Digital Insights reported that while U.S. online Black Friday spending fell slightly below 2020 levels, clocking in at $8.9 billion compared to the $9 billion spent the previous year, 44.6% of all online Black Friday sales came from smartphones—a 10.6% increase over 2020.
For those in the fashion and apparel business, the 2021 holiday season also saw a surge in overall apparel sales, soaring 86.4% compared to last year. This highlights a significant opportunity that savvy SEO professionals and fashion digital marketing experts have seen over the past few years.
As an SEO agency ourselves, we’ve had the opportunity to work with many brands in this category, including Rent the Runway. This subscription-based fashion brand wanted to test our agency’s ability to outrank competitors such as Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom in a major industry category search. To accomplish this, our agency focused on high authority backlink strategies, hoping to capture a #1 ranking within 90 days.
As per our case study, VELOX not only rose to the challenge but surpassed it, capturing three top rankings for keywords focused on event dresses, wedding dresses, and gowns within 60 days of the original 4-8 month timeframe. Best of all, our new rankings generated $97,500 per month in new revenue, adding $1,170,000 to Rent the Runway’s annual revenue.
Recent trends and our experiences have shown that investing in digital marketing and online retailing isn’t merely an option but a necessary step to remain competitive. No matter your industry, your customers are more online than ever, so now is the time to invest in your eCommerce strategies.
SEO Strategies Are More Important Than Ever
Case studies like the one above aren’t exclusive to the apparel industry. In fact, they showcase just how impactful proper SEO strategies can be for multiple sectors leading up to and during Black Friday and the holiday shopping season. The pandemic and resulting shifts in consumer behavior have forced many stores to become better digital retailers. The winners are those retailers who actively work to identify unique ROI opportunities, plot those opportunities into a revenue potential model, and incorporate thoughtful, white-hat SEO campaigns with high-authority backlinks.
Take JEMMA, a high-end luxury bag brand, for example. After partnering with VELOX Media, JEMMA saw a YOY increase of 127% in November, with transactions increasing by 97.5%. Likewise, VELOX helped push organic traffic through SEO strategies and promotions via Social and Google Ads during their 5-day sale. If that weren’t enough, overall November revenue YOY jumped from $76k to $181k, while the brand made $84k alone during its 5-day Black Friday sale.
At the same time, VELOX helped Natalie Wood Designs, a premium jewelry brand, promote their first Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales this year. As a result, overall revenue YOY in November increased 153%, with an increase of 197% in transactions. In their first month working with VELOX, the brand saw a staggering increase in month-over-month revenue of 636%. This goes to show that partnering with the right SEO agency can generate significant revenue gains and help you capitalize on the growing digital trends.
Ready to Optimize Your Online Strategies for 2022 and Beyond? Chat with the Digital Marketing Experts at VELOX Media
Black Friday 2021 shaped up to be as big and, in some cases, bigger than analysts predicted. While in-store shopping took a hit, eCommerce numbers remained promising, with holiday SEO strategies helping to provide revenue wins for retailers across multiple industries.
If your business or enterprise wants to improve its numbers for 2022 and beyond, partner with VELOX. As a Google Premier Partner ranking among the top 3% of digital marketing agencies in the world, our search marketing team is on the front lines of every Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and holiday sales period, with over 10 years of experience optimizing SEO strategies across a variety of industries and verticals. Chat with the digital marketing experts at VELOX Media to learn how we can help you surpass your revenue goals today.