Black Friday Attracts First-Time Buyers for Retailers

Retailers sold an average of 307 percent more on Black Friday 2018 than they do on a typical day, according to insights from Bluecore, a retail marketing technology company used by more than 400 retailers to launch highly personalized campaigns at scale. Using  insights into individual shoppers’ interactions with specific products and buying patterns on ecommerce sites — in real-time and over time — Bluecore reports that 57 percent of Black Friday 2018 purchases were made by first time-buyers and predicts that more than 21 percent of these new customers will become repeat buyers.  

Bluecore, which currently manages more than 500 million unique customer IDs, which it reports is a cumulative product set larger than Walmart's and rivaled only by Amazon's, looked at shoppers’ behaviors and purchases across 161 retailers in multiple retail categories: Apparel (60),  Footwear (27), Home (23), Technology (9), Beauty (8), Jewelry (7) and Other (27). The company wanted to understand how Black Friday influenced buyer behaviors and shopping patterns leading up to and on the day of the 2018 shopping holiday. It also revealed what post-2017 Black Friday patterns reveal about what retailers can expect from new 2018 customers in 2019.

On Black Friday 2018, jewelry, apparel and footwear retailers saw the largest percentage of first-time buyers with 69 percent of jewelry customers, and 68 percent of footwear and technology customers, waiting until Black Friday to make an initial purchase from brands they hadn’t previously purchased from. Despite substantial new customer gains, jewelry and apparel retailers saw less of an increase in website traffic (compared to average daily traffic) than they did on Black Friday 2017: Jewelry retailers experienced a 114 percent increase in traffic on Black Friday 2018 (compared to a 210 percent increase in traffic on Black Friday 2017). Apparel retailers saw a 162 percent increase in traffic on Black Friday 2018 (compared to a 186 percent increase in traffic on Black Friday 2017).  

Traffic patterns may reflect customers’ advanced consideration of products. Bluecore’s data reveals that an average of 30 percent of Black Friday shoppers viewed the products they purchased on Black Friday two weeks in advance of actual purchase.

Detailed Black Friday 2018 findings from Bluecore include:

  • Repeat Buyers: In 2018, more than 21 percent of Black Friday 2017 customers became repeat buyers within an average of 94 days after their initial purchase, with an average of 1.7 orders in 2018. Nearly 6 percent of first-time customers on Black Friday 2017 purchased again on Black Friday 2018.
  • Changes to Average Order Values: For every dollar spent on the average day, retailers saw the following numbers on Black Friday 2018: Apparel ($1.01), Beauty ($1.03), Jewelry ($.80), Home ($90%); Footwear ($.99); and Technology ( $.89).
  • Increase in Orders - Black Friday vs. an Average Day: Across retail categories, retailers saw an average of 307 percent increase the number of orders placed on Black Friday. By retail  category: Apparel (450 percent increase); Beauty (322 percent increase); Jewelry (420 percent increase); Home (151 percent increase); Footwear (327 percent increase); Technology (353 percent increase).
  • Advanced consideration: The percentage of shoppers who viewed a product at least two weeks prior to a Black Friday 2018 purchase: Apparel (35.3 percent), Beauty (33.1 percent), Jewelry (31.7 percent), Home (35.3 percent); Footwear (24.3 percent); and Technology (27.3 percent).

“Though retailers see a significant number of first-time customers on Black Friday, the winners will be those that are able to convert these new shoppers into valuable long-term customers. Even more significant than total Black Friday sales numbers is the number of first-time buyers that become repeat buyers over time,” said Rob Holland, COO, Bluecore.

“This year we saw an average of 57 percent of purchases coming from new customers.  We expect that more than 20 percent of these new customers — who often convert in response to higher-than-average discounts — will become second-time buyers in 2019, and will buy in response to lesser (or no) discounts.”

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