Despite some studies indicating a challenging remainder of the year for retailers as consumers look to tighten their purse strings, shoppers around the world expect to maintain or increase both their online and bricks-and-mortar spending this Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) weekend. However, they are looking for particular deals and are planning to use AI to discover new brands as well as products – and are willing to switch brands to get them.
This is according to Shopify’s Black Friday Cyber Monday 2023 Report into more than 2,000 consumers and 1,000 SMBs in the UK, which is part of a global research study surveying 12,000 consumers and almost 5,000 businesses in six countries.
Deann Evans, Managing Director, EMEA at Shopify, commented: “Despite many studies predicting a challenging period for retailers as consumers look to tighten their purse strings, our data indicates that this could be a key revenue moment for those that embrace BFCM. In fact, shoppers have recently cut back so they are ready to spend during BFCM to get more for their money. Brands need to embrace this opportunity by offering competitive deals and higher quality products as if they don’t, consumers may move away to another.”
Shoppers aren’t cutting back, but want specific bargains
Three quarters (73%) of consumers globally – rising to 74% in the UK – have reduced their discretionary spending over the last couple of months. Yet people want to spend this season with over half (53%) of UK shoppers putting aside more money each month than they have in previous years.
This is resulting in a notable 69% being more likely to shop during BFCM weekend and upcoming peak sales moments to get more for their money. In fact, 66% of UK shoppers, increasing to 67% globally, plan to spend as much or more during BFCM weekend this year compared to last year.
However, UK consumers are becoming more savvy with 83% revealing they will compare prices to see where the best deals are. Furthermore, 68% cite cost as one of the biggest reasons they would switch brands. But it is not just cost, it’s quality with three quarters (77%) saying they want higher quality products that will last for a long time.
Gareth Newman, CEO and Founder of Blakely, a UK founded clothing store said: “BFCM is a competitive time, and we find that a fast paced, reactive approach drives sales. Sometimes that means putting on the right sale at the right time, or using a sale to draw in people who haven’t shopped with us before but are sitting at the top of the conversion funnel and making sure we give them a reason to return. That’s one example of where linking up our in-store and online offer is really powerful: someone might wander into our store and buy in a sale, and if they opt in to hearing more from us we can create personalised rewards or an incentive to shop with us again.”
Both offline and online retail is booming, with social media shopping also in the limelight
Despite perceptions, browsing in a shop remains a close second behind browsing online (33% vs 39%) for British consumers as the top way they make new product discoveries. And 76% of UK merchants – up to 81% globally – said that brick-and-mortar stores are as or more important than last year, up from 68% in 2022.
The study also found that more shoppers are open to making purchases through social media platforms. One in three UK consumers (35%) would be willing to purchase products directly on Instagram. This is vital as 80% of UK merchants said selling via social media had the same level or more importance than a year ago.
Newman commented: “We see online and bricks-and-mortar as essential partners allowing us to create omni-channel experiences for our customers. We started out as a solely ecommerce business, but by adding physical stores we were able to carve out a completely new sales channel, where new customers could find us accidentally and existing ones can have an immersive Blakely experience. By linking the two we’re already seeing added value: we’re converting in-store customers, online, and vice versa.”
Technology-driven shopping experiences drive sales and loyalty
40% of UK shoppers are more likely to buy from and/or spend more money with brands that actively embed technology into the shopping experience, with a further 20% highlighting they are more inclined to be loyal to those brands.
Brands must take note with self-service checkout being the most popular technology for UK consumers (53%), followed by real-time order tracking (38%) and mobile (44%). Almost two in five (38%) of shoppers said they use tech to get the best value for money, 34% to make the experience more convenient, and 26% to make more informed decisions.
AI stands out as a route to better offers and more targeted deals with over two thirds (68%) of those in the UK thinking AI will make it easier to discover new brands and products or to find out more information about the products they are buying.
More than one in ten (13%) regularly or always make use of the ability to create customised designs (e.g. personalised versions of a product) – just ahead of the portion who use virtual assistants or AR/VR experiences (12%).
The good news is that brands are responding with two thirds (67%) saying they are investing more in technology to help them capitalise on BFCM and upcoming seasonal spending windows.
The online survey was conducted by Sapio Research, on behalf of Shopify, among 12,000 consumers and 4,852 businesses with online sales capabilities with fewer than 1,000 employees across Australia, Canada, France, Germany, UK and US. The survey took place in September 2023.