How To Prepare for 2022 Black Friday eCommerce Fulfillment

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For eCommerce companies worldwide — but especially in the United States — Black Friday inspires excitement and trepidation. As arguably the biggest shopping day of the year, the day after Thanksgiving offers eCommerce companies the year's best opportunity to maximize sales, move products, and increase profits.

Most eCommerce companies use this opportunity to offer deals and special offers on various in-demand products. Given that the holiday seasons are usually stressful for consumers, online sales of in-demand products usually prompt a significant surge in web traffic and sales for most eCommerce companies. 

However, this massive surge in demand presents challenges as well. Black Friday's massive spike in sales can raise numerous logistical issues for eCommerce companies that did not adequately prepare for the significant increase in demand. Given the sudden rise in sales, eCommerce companies can also find themselves struggling with shipping products in a timely and efficient manner. 

There's no question that Black Friday is one of eCommerce companies’ most important days of the year. But, given its numerous logistical challenges, eCommerce companies should prepare well in advance. One of the best ways of doing this is to find the best inventory monitoring partner that fits all your order fulfillment and logistical needs. eCommerce companies should begin searching now to find the most suitable partner for all of their Black Friday order fulfillment needs.

Rakuten Super Logistics, now ShipNetwork provides eCommerce companies with the flexibility, scalability, and cost savings that online stores need to maximize their 2022 Black Friday eCommerce fulfillment

Will eCommerce Continue To Grow in 2022?

As eCommerce sellers look forward to Black Friday in 2022, many wonder what the overall forecast of the eCommerce industry looks like for this year and the foreseeable future. Market trends can be difficult to predict. Given the preliminary work needed to maximize profits and customer satisfaction on a major sales day like Black Friday, many in the eCommerce world would like to know whether or not eCommerce as a whole will continue to grow. 

This question is especially pertinent given the unusual trends in eCommerce over the past two years. As many are already aware, the fiscal period of 2020-2022 was significantly defined by the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on commerce. Following the global surge in COVID cases in early 2020, brick-and-mortar retailers began to shut down or switch to a much more limited capacity. At the same time, consumers began to avoid in-person shopping due to either mandatory stay-at-home orders or an abundance of caution. 

As a result, the eCommerce industry saw a noticeable boom in 2020. In fact, between 2019 and 2021, eCommerce's share of total retail sales rose from 15% to 21%. As of 2022, eCommerce represents around 22% of total retail sales. 

But given that this surge was driven by a global health emergency more than continuous trends, eCommerce companies still wonder if this increase in sales will continue as the world continues to mitigate and lessen the effects of COVID-19. This question is especially relevant as eCommerce companies put in the work and resources to prepare for Black Friday 2022 and all of the logistical and inventory challenges that go along with it.

If eCommerce sales decline with COVID-19 rates, eCommerce companies may not get the benefits of Black Friday in 2022 they had predicted. When preparing for Black Friday, eCommerce companies need to understand where eCommerce industry trends stand outside of the effects of the pandemic. 

Fortunately, most eCommerce growth projections remain optimistic, even as the world emerges from its COVID-19 quarantine. While the pandemic had a major effect on the retail industry and the growth in eCommerce rates, experts do see several other unrelated factors driving eCommerce growth as part of a longer-term trend.

Innovations in logistics, increased internet access around the world, and surges in mobile app shopping all contribute to increases in eCommerce sales.

Based on current estimates, Morgan Stanley sees eCommerce sales potentially increasing from today's $3.3 trillion in sales to around $5.4 trillion in 2026. That would correspond to eCommerce occupying 27% of retail sales within four years. While many consumers turned to online shopping out of necessity, the convenience and efficiency mean that many will continue to use eCommerce outlets even as they no longer have to deal with lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.

Thus, eCommerce companies should be optimistic that Black Friday will provide a significant opportunity in 2022.

Peak Black Friday Season Sales

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Following its humble origins in the 1920s, Black Friday has grown beyond a single day into an entire shopping season. As a result, "Black Friday" peak sales may not fall on the actual Friday after Thanksgiving. Instead, different retailers may offer even better deals during the lead-up to Black Friday or the weekend following it. Therefore, eCommerce companies should look for different peaks in sales for the entire month of November rather than just on Black Friday itself. 

For example, "Cyber Monday" may have overtaken Black Friday as the year's biggest shopping day in recent years. Cyber Monday is the Monday following Black Friday, usually the last day of Thanksgiving break for students and many adults. Over the past decade or two, online retailers began noticing that consumers used this day to do most of their online holiday shopping. These retailers soon began offering online Cyber Monday deals in addition to their Black Friday deals, and a new shopping holiday was born. 

As a likely result of the pandemic, 2020's Cyber Monday sales saw the largest online retail sales in the day's history, with consumers spending $10.8 billion on that day alone. Though that number went down slightly the following year, Cyber Monday 2021 still outshined that year's Black Friday with $10.7 billion in sales. 

In addition to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving itself has become a significant shopping date in its own right. In 2020, online retailers saw $5.1 billion in sales on Thanksgiving Day, a whopping 19% increase from 2019. Thanksgiving Day 2021 saw an additional $5.14 billion in online sales. Based on these trends, eCommerce companies should prepare their inventory and digital infrastructure for several days of major online shopping around the entire Thanksgiving holiday.

Companies that prepare only for this year's Black Friday may quickly be overwhelmed by increased sales and site traffic in the days before and after.

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How Much Did Shopify Make on Black Friday?

When looking ahead to Black Friday in 2022, eCommerce retailers should wonder what kind of sales they can expect, given the resources expended in preparation. While projections of this nature are usually more of an art than a science, we can get a decent picture of what to expect this year by analyzing the Black Friday sales of major online retails in the past few years.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on online sales can say a lot about the trends in eCommerce, from Black Friday in 2020 to Black Friday in 2021. We examine this by looking at the sales numbers from specific eCommerce companies over the past two years. 

For example, Shopify is one of the world's largest and most significant multinational eCommerce companies. As such, the Black Friday sales numbers from Shopify in 2021 can inform eCommerce companies on what to expect for Black Fridays in the future. 

In 2021, Shopify saw $6.3 billion in sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Even though November 2021 saw fewer lockdowns and stay-at-home orders than November 2020, these sales figures represented a 23% increase from the previous Black Friday's $5.1 billion. Black Friday 2021 was Shopify's most successful Black Friday to date. 

Shopify's success on Black Friday 2021 demonstrates a few key trends affecting the eCommerce world. These trends saw short-term surges due to the COVID-19 pandemic but were already part of a broader evolution of the global retail industry. 

For one, the increase in online shopping came in conjunction with an increased desire on the part of consumers to prioritize smaller and local businesses. On Black Friday 2021, around 47 million consumers purchased items from independent and direct-to-consumer retail outlets rather than major chains.

The synthesis of independent retailers and online shopping is only possible thanks to the increasing trend toward eCommerce companies such as Shopify. Thus, eCommerce retailers expect 2022's Black Friday to see similar surges in eCommerce-powered independent shopping.

With Shopify, another major trend on 2021's Black Friday was a preference for alternate fulfillment options. Curbside pickup and local deliveries saw increased sales numbers compared to in-store shopping. While this surge may have initially come about due to the pandemic, the convenience and efficiency of these fulfillment options mean that they will likely continue to drive surges in eCommerce over the next few years. 

Shopify's total sales on Black Friday 2021 also saw a continuation of the trends toward cross-border shopping. Improvements in global logistics and fulfillment have allowed online shoppers in several countries to purchase items more easily from outside their borders.

For Shopify, this was especially true in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. The use of mobile apps for online shopping was also a major driver of Shopify's Black Friday sales. In 2021, mobile orders made up around 71% of Shopify's Black Friday sales.

As more and more consumers have access to mobile apps, eCommerce retailers can expect 2022's Black Friday to continue this surge in mobile-based sales.

Do Online Prices Drop on Black Friday?

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If there's one thing that Black Friday has become synonymous with in consumers' minds, it's sales. Historically, the day after Thanksgiving has been the ideal time for people to get a head start on the holiday shopping season. After all, most people are still on their Thanksgiving break, but with the big day out of the way, people have more time to dedicate to shopping.

Many consumers have ideas for future Christmas shopping gifts fresh in their minds. Combine this with the desire to avoid last-minute panic buying in the days before Christmas, and you see why Black Friday became notable as the busiest shopping day of the year. 

And as the year's busiest shopping day, it was also the perfect day for retailers to offer some of their best sales and special offers of the year. This comes in conjunction with further deals on "Cyber Monday," the Monday following Black Friday that traditionally sees a surge in online shopping. 

However, one trend eCommerce retailers have experienced in recent years is the larger scope of sales in the days leading up to Black Friday, rather than just on Black Friday itself. For example, retail sales in November of 2021 totaled around $109.8 billion. This accounted for an 11.9% increase in total sales from November 2020. This surge in sales included the days and weeks leading up to Black Friday as well as the day of.

This is because many retailers have begun using the lead-up to Black Friday to offer some of their best sales and special offers. As Black Friday becomes more and more of a major holiday itself, the days of hype leading up to it present more of an opportunity to offer more sales and drive purchases. According to Tech Radar, many of the best deals in 2021 occurred in the days leading up to Black Friday.

Therefore, eCommerce retailers can expect online prices to drop on Black Friday 2022. But, at the same time, we should also expect a broader drop in online prices for most of November. Taking into account the weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday and the weeks in November when many retailers will be advertising Black Friday sales, eCommerce companies can expect online price drops for both Black Friday and the weeks leading up to it. 

Preparing for Black Friday Shipping Spikes

Given these considerations, eCommerce retailers can expect Black Friday 2022 to present a critical opportunity for maximizing sales and increasing profits. But, while this prospect undoubtedly fosters excitement, the logistical challenges that will likely come with increased online sales may cause anxiety. After all, a Black Friday spike in online sales will lead to a spike in shipping and several potential logistical issues. 

The best way for eCommerce companies to minimize potential Black Friday woes is to prepare for shipping spikes well ahead of time. Fortunately, online retailers have nothing to fear with the right inventory partners and preparation tools.

Since Black Friday 2022 will likely follow trends from previous years, eCommerce retailers will be wise to set up their Black Friday inventory based on sales numbers from Black Fridays in 2020 and 2021 (with some adjustments based on future sales projections). 

It's also a good idea to pay attention to trends in shipping preferences. As we've previously seen, one of the biggest trends over the past few Black Fridays was a stark increase in consumer preferences for curbside pickup and local delivery. We have also seen higher consumer expectations for fast delivery. Companies like Amazon have standardized fast delivery times when it comes to ordering things online.

Consumers want their orders right away so knowing the preferred shipping methods among customers ahead of time will go a long way in mitigating potential logistical issues well before they happen.

Another good idea when preparing for Black Friday is for eCommerce companies to optimize their supply chains for omnichannel support. With eCommerce allowing for online shopping from a wide range of locations, shopping methods, and delivery preferences, a good supply chain will maximize customer support efficiency with this diversity in mind.

Online retailers can prepare for Black Friday omnichannel support by diversifying their supply chain network, prioritizing lead time accuracy, ensuring compliance with necessary regulations, and focusing on trusted and reliable vendors. Other strategies that eCommerce companies can focus on now are prioritizing supplier relationship management, green logistics, and optimizing their supply chain for last-minute delivery. 

Another important point to remember is that any sales spike will also increase returns. This is especially true during the holiday season when many gifts are returned shortly after purchase. Though online retailers prefer not to focus on returns, the fact is that an easy and convenient return process will make customers more likely to use a specific eCommerce company again in the future.

When preparing for Black Friday 2022, eCommerce retailers should consider the likely surge in returns when preparing their logistics and ensure that customers can return items with little hassle and have a positive experience. 

Preparing for Black Friday Order Spikes

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Of course, the surge in Black Friday order spikes does not merely require preparation on the logistical end. eCommerce retailers should prepare their online store infrastructure and customer service for the predicted increase in purchases and average order value. Fortunately, thanks to new and innovative tools, online retailers can better prepare well in advance for Black Friday sales. 

One important tool eCommerce retailers have in their pocket is Google Analytics tools (such as Google Trends) which allows them to find trends in online searches and sales and plan accordingly. Seeing what products people are searching for in the summer of 2022 will give retailers a clearer idea of what products they will likely sell on Black Friday. This will help retailers focus their offers on products likely to be more popular to increase how much stock they have and get them in front of potential customers as soon as possible. 

With a rise in online shopping comes an increase in online payment methods. As an eCommerce retailer will likely know, in today's world, online consumers have a wide range of payment options when shopping online. Online payment services like PayPay, Stripe, and Swish attract many customers thanks to their convenience and reliability in online shopping. Of course, most customers will only have accounts with one or two of these services.

eCommerce retailers would be smart to ensure they accept payments from as many reliable online payment methods as possible. This is especially true when preparing for Black Friday, as the surge in online sales will likely come from several different online payment services. If an eCommerce company is not yet integrated with a popular online payment service, it's a good idea to make that connection now rather than waiting until too close to Black Friday. 

Finally, eCommerce retailers should keep in mind that an increasing share of online shopping occurs via mobile apps. Mobile apps provide unprecedented convenience for online shoppers, especially those trying to get through Black Friday shopping with as little hassle as possible. eCommerce companies that do not offer convenient mobile apps will likely miss out on many potential sales.

As with payment methods, it is a good idea for any eCommerce company to work on their mobile apps well before Black Friday rather than rushing an app with little time to spare before the unprecedented shopping season. 

How ShipNetwork Can Help eCommerce Companies Prepare for Black Friday

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The world of eCommerce is one of the most promising aspects of what retail in the future will look like. Major shopping events like Black Friday are arguably the year's best opportunity for eCommerce retailers to maximize sales, connect with consumers, and build a lasting and loyal base of customers. But though current projections of Black Friday sales look promising, the unavoidable logistical and inventory issues would likely induce stress within any eCommerce retailer, no matter the size. 

Rakuten Super Logistics, now ShipNetwork has built a global inventory monitoring network that provides the savings and flexibility that eCommerce retailers require when navigating the hectic Black Friday shopping season. As a leading partner for eCommerce retailers worldwide, ShipNetwork takes the stress out of Black Friday preparations by providing retailers and consumers with reliable, efficient, and borderless inventory centers. 

ShipNetwork takes pride in a customer service team of superior shipping experts who can assist with any logistical issues that customers may have. With the future of eCommerce seemingly driven more and more by online, mobile, and borderless shopping, eCommerce retailers need a partner they can trust year round.

With ShipNetwork's partnership and global inventory monitoring infrastructure, online stores can prepare for Black Friday with all the excitement, joy, and optimism that such a day should inspire without stress and hassle.

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