COVID & Black Friday: Holiday Shopping is Being Reinvented

9 Minute Read | E-Commerce

Just like everything else in 2020, Black Friday is looking vastly different than it was a year ago. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated our adoption of eCommerce by approximately three years, with more than 31% of those who are 65 and older reporting they plan to only shop online, now that stay at home restrictions have been lifted.

If there’s ever going to be an opportunity for online businesses to thrive, it’s going to be this holiday shopping season. COVID and Black Friday 2020 have come together just as consumers have built trust in online purchases and are still keen to avoid crowds.

At the most recent eCommerce Summit held by The Australian, VINOMOFO’s Justin Dry breaks down digital success into a simple 4-step formula: 

  1. Know your customer
  2. Give them what they want
  3. Listen to them
  4. Make it easy and personal to them

But we know this is easier said than done, so we’ll walk you through it. Come, take our hand as we explain how your eCommerce site needs to adapt for Black Friday 2020. 


Make your contact count 

With the pandemic hitting retail hard, November will be swamped with Black Friday deals across email marketing, social media, and the broader web as retailers look to make up for the shortfall.

By personalising your digital campaigns, you’re cutting through a crowded market with information the consumer wants to see – this can be the difference between a purchase with you or a competitor.

Some quick tips from us:

1. Use your metadata wisely

Although often overlooked, Title Tags and Meta Descriptions are incredibly important. Not only do they help search engines understand what your page is about, but they can heavily influence click-through rates. 

These clickable blue links on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are the first impression many people have of your site, so it’s crucial you’re showing them something that’s readable, compelling and relevant to their search.

2. Optimise your Smart Shopping

If you’re a player in the Google Ads game, be sure to clean up your Smart Shopping feed before the big day. Be on the lookout for product warnings and disapprovals in your feed which could be preventing your products from showing in the search results. You don’t want to be caught out having your best-selling products inactive as the holiday season gets into full swing.

If you’re operating on a tight budget, never fear! Use Google Ads or Analytics data to identify your 20-30 best-selling products (we recommend using at least 3 months of data for this) so you don’t waste budget on those poorly converting items. Smart Shopping will also create dynamic remarketing ads to retarget users who are yet to convert. This means your customers will get personalised ads filled with all the goodies that they’ve previously browsed on-site to edge them across the line. 

It’s this easy to get your products in front of the right people when you’ve utilised your Google Shopping Ads correctly.

3. Run responsive search ads

When it comes to Google search, be sure to run responsive search ads on all of your campaigns. Responsive search ads will allow you to test multiple headlines and descriptions in one big hit. It’s strongly recommended to have one responsive ad in each of your ad groups for the best performance. This will give Google the best opportunity to find that golden combination that will resonate most with your customer.

4. Find your unique selling proposition

Cramming your ads with a generic sales message is not the way to go here. We find it best to build a list of unique selling points before setting up your Google Ads and Performance Marketing campaigns. For example, if you offer interest-free payment plans, run with one message around this point. If your products are proudly Australian-made, you could reserve another headline for that. 

You can see Death Wish Coffee has mapped out their unique selling points in a simple engaging way, which is direct, fun and the perfect building block for a digital campaign. 

Anticipate delays, learn to communicate

One thing we can confidently point out is that COVID-19 has wreaked havoc with postal systems all around the world. Seemingly, no one was exempt from the backlog of orders as people took to the internet to get their necessities and also indulge in a bit of retail therapy. 

Now that we’re months into the pandemic, there’s been a slight reprieve on the postal system, but we’re not back to our pre-COVID days just yet. So in the lead up to Black Friday 2020, ensure you’re prepared to keep the customer in the loop. By removing the need to reach out and enquire about the status of their order you’re building customer trust, and creating a super simple customer journey.

Ease & speed

With so many people buying/researching online for the first time thanks to COVID-19, it’s important to assess whether you’re making their Black Friday shopping easy. To make sure you’re removing as many purchasing barriers as possible, take a minute to ask yourself these questions:

1. Have I optimised my site for speed?

Fast page loading speeds are going to be crucial to your Black Friday 2020 survival, especially as people frantically try to get the best deals. We want to live by the mantra, “you make them wait, you lost the bait”.

If you’re making your customer wait during one of the biggest sale events of the year, they’re going to move onto the next site. Plus, page/site speed isn’t just for users, but for Google too. Google has shown that site speed can significantly affect your site’s ranking. So before Black Friday hits, take the time to invest in some technical SEO and site speed optimisation

2. Have I utilised multiple payment options?

Gone are the days of carrying multiple cards on you at all times. Nowadays, consumers are spoilt for choice with an abundance of digital wallets and payment options. 

As an eCommerce retailer, this means you need to cater to their preferences; if you’re not aligned with the payment options that they have saved to their phone or browser, you’re adding a purchase barrier that’ll just leave you with an abandoned cart.

Consider implementing a Buy Now Pay Later provider on your website to make this process as easy as pie. The premise is simple – a Buy Now Pay Later platform allows the buyer to break down their purchase into smaller more manageable payments via a loan from a third party provider. By introducing multiple Buy Now Pay Later platforms, you’re killing two birds with one stone: 

  1. You’re giving them access to a payment platform that they are aligned to.
  2. You’re reducing the up-front spend making the purchase less intimidating, and therefore more likely to be completed.

Current BNPL platforms available in Australia are:

  • Afterpay
  • Zip Money
  • Zip Pay
  • Humm
  • Openpay
  • Brighte
  • Review
  • Klarna
  • Bundll
  • Laybuy
  • LatitudePay

Shiels nail this BNPL incentive by flagging their multiple payment options right at the point of decision. 

3. Have I optimised our mobile site?

It’s a little screen but a big player. Mobile use is increasing every year with 89% of people saying they are likely to recommend a brand after a positive shopping experience on mobile. So if your mobile site isn’t ready, you’re missing a huge chunk of online shoppers!

VINOMOFO accomplishes two key goals on their mobile website:

  1. It’s easy for users to find out information about their offerings.
  2. They’re selling that information with beautiful, clear  imagery.

By making it this simple, you’ll  be far more likely to convert to a sale on the go!

4. Is my support team easy to reach?

You want to recreate the ease of shopping in-store and with that comes the simplicity of finding a helping hand. With COVID-19 driving more people online, having a support team that is easy to reach is integral in maintaining sales that may have been lost in the ‘new COVID normal’.


Example of a chat bot

Oz Hair & Beauty nails this process of bringing the in-store experience online via their chatbot, staffed by real consultants. When it’s this simple to get exactly what you want online, customers are far more likely to be a return customer and recommend you to their network. 

Above all, stay agile

As the doors of brick-and-mortar stores closed and social distancing became the norm in March, businesses (big and small) were pushed to go online (if they weren’t already). 

When COVID first hit, retail bigwig Shiels swung into action. In preparation for the surge in online sales, they moved all stock from their stores to their main office. Toby, Managing Director of Shiels, told The Jewellers Podcast: “it was a big job, but our staff were really happy that the company was opening back up.”

This type of fast-acting, forward-thinking response is a perfect example of how businesses need to adapt to suit the needs of their customer. 

2020 taught all of us that the future can’t be guaranteed and you never know what’s around the corner. As customer buying behaviours continue to change, so must the behaviours of the businesses selling to them. Be proactive and prepared for anything, before it happens. 

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