How Did the eCommerce Space Fair This BFCM?

Written by Ben Moore

December 9, 2021

It’s that time of the year, the annual debate as to when it is suitable to put up the tree and crank the volume button on your radio (upwards or downwards) whenever the bells of Mariah’s flagship song is heard. However, one thing is made very clear – Christmas is on its way!

With the most wonderful time of the year right around the corner and with the fresh taste of peak period still resonating in the mouth, it can be easy to get lost in the moment. By reflecting on how your peak period went and analysing any key trends or behaviours, you can help better prepare your retail business for the year to come.

Despite the pandemic fast-tracking eCommerce as the primary method of shopping in 2020, merchants saw a significant drop in the total value of Black Friday spending in the country – as expected. With the reopening of non-essential shops from early 2021 and the reopening of the economy, some analysts predicted that this trend of slowing sales figures for BFCM would continue into a plateau. Yet, figures published by Shopify taken from data produced by over 100,000 UK merchants signified that this was not the case.

The average cart price of UK merchants rose from £55.17 to £63.19 compared the year before, partnered by an increase of 474% in POS sales – Shopify

It’s safe to say the UK still embraces Black Friday despite the hardships the pandemic has caused!

Comparing Shopify’s eCommerce data to the rest of the world tells us a different story. Black Friday eCommerce sales dipped slightly in the United States from $9 Billion in 2020 to $8.9 Billion in 2021. This dip signifies that the predicted plateau on a broader scale away from the isolated data provided by eCommerce retailers was to be expected. A slight dip in figures is expected due to a few unpremeditated factors whilst going into this peak period, such as supply chain issues and the emergence of the Omicron variant. Additionally, even though ‘profit generated’ will be the main metric of success in the eCommerce space, online traffic is another important metric to measure activity. 2021 saw an increase in online activity from the previous year, hinting that the industry is still booming despite a dip!

Taking data from different sources suggests that overall, the eCommerce industry, despite slowing down in BFCM sales, is still a vastly popular method of shopping and isn’t going away anytime soon. As for Commerce platforms, 2021’s BFCM was the first year (since the pandemic) that stores established using these platforms had the opportunity to take advantage of both their online and brick-and-mortar stores – and as predicted, business is booming. Even though merchants using platforms such as Shopify had a great BFCM, there’s always room for improvement! Let’s look below at a few tips that we’ve learned from BFCM so that eCommerce merchants can make the most out of this festive trading period.

Tip #1 – Optimise Site for Mobile-first Viewing


Bloomreach conducted a Black Friday eCommerce trend report highlighting that 71% of all UK shoppers made their BFCM purchases using their mobile phones, with up to 7.5 million searches in the UK alone. This is a no brainer then for eCommerce merchants to optimise their online store to be suited to a mobile using audience – this takes the form of improving site navigation, the speed of the site and incorporating the ability for customers to one-click purchase products.

Tip #2 – Boost website SEO


With more people using search engines as their first port of call when beginning their buyers’ journey, it’s key for an eCommerce merchant to play the SEO game to ensure their search engine visibility is top-notch. Researching niche product keywords and phrases can position a merchants store higher up the list, increasing the amount of website traffic in the process. Identifying these keywords associated with the type of products being sold and incorporating them into the website through comprehensive product and meta descriptions can equip a merchant with a better chance of ranking higher.

Tip #3 – Address any issues with Logistics


It says what it does on the tin! Logistics is vital in the eCommerce journey, and any hitch with late delivery or a poor returns system can put a repeat customer off for life! With BFCM being the first real test to a merchant’s logistical setup, it is critical to make sure there’s no kink in the supply chain and that the logistical side of the buyers’ journey is as seamless as the customer experience on the online store.

With BFCM passing, now is a great time to reflect on what areas of the supply chain could be smoother (if any!) and if anything needs addressing before the onslaught of late gift purchases and post-Christmas returns begins!


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