Black Friday isn’t dead. It just had a heart attack.

 

The storied holiday tradition of skipping Thanksgiving dinner to pepper spray and degrade your way to huge savings may be losing its luster, but that doesn’t mean the day’s spirit has died.

 

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It’s only moved to greater pastures: the digital landscape, where stats from the past weekend have shown an increase in online shoppers and a decrease in brick-and-mortar shoppers:

 

“In 2015, approximately 103 million shopped online while 102 million bought in-stores. This year, the Internet had a clear advantage: More than 108 million purchased electronically, while only 99.1 million bought in stores.”

 

This trend should continue, as brands look to innovative new ways to give their customers easier access to the weekend’s bargains. As Stacey Widlitz, President of SW Retail Advisors, told CNBC:

 

“The ones that are really making it easy for the customer and focusing on them will be the winners.”

 

Business is an ‘adapt or die’ environment; and in today’s increasingly digital age, brands will be expected by their customers to bring the sales to them. Otherwise, they face the prospect of a competitor reaching out to their customer through far more efficient, modern means.

 

According to Richard Jaffe, Stifel analyst, “traffic was noticeably slower at several of the mall-based specialty shops, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Chico’s and Banana Republic.”

 

Meanwhile, “double-digit online sales growth kept some shoppers at home, as retailers like Wal-Mart, Kohl’s and Target offered the same deals online as they did in stores.”

 

It’s as clear as the Friday is black: If you haven’t made your digital store an easily navigable experience for your customers, you’re going to lose out on sales.

 

Black Friday Shopping is Madness

 

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The name ‘Black Friday’ alone conjures up images and reels of thousands of Americans toppling over each other, risking serious injury or death, and waiting in lines extending forever.

 

When you can get the same deals online, which is what a number of prominent retailers promoted, there’s no point in being the first in line.

 

Shoppers today would much rather shop in safety online, and avoid the risk of a broken nose caused by some soccer mom who wanted that microwave at 15% off a little more than you.

 

What will inevitably hurt the case for going to the mall on Black Friday were the two deaths and four serious injuries that occurred. Before this year, “nobody was killed on Black Friday since 2013.”

 

Anomalies? Perhaps. But why even risk it when you have the opportunity to shop exclusively online in the comfort of your home.

 

Online Shopping Up, Store Shopping Down

 

As a result, online shopping is high. So high that it just hit a new online sales record for purchases:

 

“All in all, online sales added up to $3.34 billion, good for 21.6 percent growth on a year-over-year basis.”

 

America’s top retailers took notice of their customers’ tendencies and adjusted to their needs:

“A staggering amount of that buying took place on the Internet, data showed, setting a sales record. It underscoring how retailers have aggressively integrated web bargains into their holiday marketing strategy.”

 

As stated before, this is a trend, not a fad; online shopping was up 5 million consumers and store shopping was down nearly 3 million. No company should have an excuse as to why they don’t have a fully optimized, easily accessible listing of their products online.

 

However, if they really, really care about making sales, they’ll take it a step further…

 

The Rise of Mobile

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Online shopping isn’t the only thing that was on the rise this Black Friday. Not only was this a record weekend for online sales, mobile devices took an even bigger step this weekend with record sales of their own:

 

Out of those $3.34 billion in online sales, “mobile sales took up one-third of that number, with a total of $1.2 billion in sales on Black Friday alone.”

 

Overall, mobile purchases were up 33% on Black Friday. Naturally, it was the larger brands that noticed this first and profited most:

 

“Some of America’s top retailers, including Amazon, eBay, Target and Walmart, had all reported greater mobile traffic and sales on Black Friday.

 

Amazon had, in fact, said that Thanksgiving mobile orders were particularly good, as consumers ordered more items on turkey day than they did on Cyber Monday in 2015….Likewise, Target and Walmart both reported substantially greater mobile activity in both sales and traffic on Thanksgiving Day.”

 

It goes back to accessibility. Going on a computer is easier than going to a store, but picking up your smartphone or tablet is even easier than that, right?

 

Well….

 

“An interesting statistic comparison emerged that showed although 55% of visitors to retail websites on Black Friday were on smartphones and tablets, they only accounted for 36% of sales.

While that is an increase on last year’s numbers, it shows that people may browse on their smartphones, many still prefer to buy on their desktops and laptops.”

 

Surprisingly, “smartphones have a substantial lead over tablets, with 45% of overall mobile visits and 25% of overall mobile sales compared to 10% of visits and 11% of sales on tablets.”

 

Although smartphones and tablets are more compact, easier to move around, and more accessible, desktops and laptops are still perceived as more reliable.

 

Think about the buying and checking out process. There’s a lot to input, and one mistake in your credit card number can often result in the entire wall of information getting wiped out. On a desktop, it’s far easier to click around and type out your info, rather than scroll with your finger and input all your details there.

 

It will be interesting to see how brands continue to evolve their mobile experience into one that can rival the desktop experience.

 

Maybe they can take some tips from the giant of all retail giants…

 

Wal-Mart: King of Retail

 

As far as the mobile experience goes, nobody can do it quite like Wal-Mart:

 

“Wal-Mart said more than 70% of traffic to its Walmart.com website during Black Friday was driven by mobile.”

 

Despite widespread scrutiny, Wal-Mart continues to show how in touch it is with trends and how to keep its customers loyal, making their website mobile-friendly and receiving a majority of their website’s traffic from mobile devices.

 

From the moment I access Walmart.com on a mobile, I’m met with ‘Today’s featured deals’. A wide-range of products, from computers to plaid shirts, are available on an easy-to-swipe slideshow.

 

As I scroll down, I continue to see what made Walmart.com so successful on mobile.

 

Below the featured deals is another slideshow. This one is called ‘Great gifts to make them smile’ and is aimed at a specific target: Moms going Christmas shopping. Included are popular toys for the season and laptops, hitting the nail on the head of the college student, young adult and child demographics.

 

To begrudgingly sing their praises one more time, below that slideshow is an easily navigable selection of departments, including ‘Electronics’, ‘Home’, ‘Toys’, ‘Jewelry’, and more.

 

Go ahead and see for yourself how Walmart.com’s mobile presence should be emulated by every other brand with a multitude of products to offer. Even smaller brands could follow in their footsteps simply with these 3 listings:

 

  • Their best deals
  • Products that resonate with the main audience
  • Easily navigable product lines

 

It’s a simple layout that works and gives users exactly what they want without having to go searching for it.

 

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