We knew Black Friday Cyber Monday would be different this year, but different how? Every BFCM, we follow our merchants’ online sales in real-time. This year, we wanted to see exactly how COVID-19 accelerated broader trends in commerce.
BFCM serves as a microcosm of global commerce and offers a glimpse for the year to come. To fully grasp where things are headed, we need to analyze more than sales data—we need to reflect on how independent businesses adapted, how consumers responded, and what this means for 2021 and beyond.
Here’s what we found.
Shopping weekend? More like shopping season
Despite sudden lockdowns and global economic hardship, independent businesses on Shopify rallied to make 2020 the most successful BFCM to date.
Shopify store owners collectively made a whopping $5.1 billion USD in sales between Black Friday and Cyber Monday globally, up 76% from last year.
2020 was also the longest BFCM season to date. Business owners ramped up their campaigns and promotions as early as November 12th this year, with many expecting to continue well into December—a strategic decision made to mitigate supply chain disruptions and shipping delays.
The BFCM trends that are here to stay
Below, we'll take a closer look at the data from BFCM 2020 and analyze some of the most meaningful changes that emerged. You may see familiar trends that began at the start of COVID-19, plus a few more that we think are here to stay.
Consumers want to support small businesses
Forced closures affected independent businesses the hardest. Despite their courage and ingenuity, they needed consumers to make a choice: to shop small, or to let the powers that be take an uncontested hold on the world of commerce.
Fortunately, holiday shoppers sided with independents—and in a big way. During BFCM, more than 44 million consumers globally purchased from independent and direct-to-consumer brands powered by Shopify, a 50% jump from 2019.
There’s a demand for alternative fulfillment options
Curbside pickup and local delivery started as lifelines for retailers early in the pandemic and continued to play a pivotal role this BFCM season. Not only do consumers want to support local businesses and shop safely from the comfort of their homes, they also want to avoid shipping costs and delays.
The kicker: shoppers check out with a 25% higher cart size when they opt for local pickup and delivery, according to Shopify research conducted from May to August 2020.
On Black Friday, the average cart price for curbside pickup orders was $78.60 in the US and C$93.81 in Canada. As for local delivery, the average cart price was $62.70 in the US and C$97.59 in Canada.
We expect curbside pickup and local delivery will continue to grow in popularity as shoppers flock to local stores for last-minute holiday gifts.
The top-converting marketing channels remain steady
To succeed as an independent business, you have to meet customers where they spend their time. Thankfully, we have some data to point you in the right direction for the immediate future.
We dug into how various traffic sources performed during BFCM weekend. While these channels weren’t necessarily responsible for the most orders overall, the data suggests they’re important sources to consider for store owners in search of qualified traffic.
During a year defined by change, what's most surprising about this data is how consistent it is with last year. The workhorses of online marketing are poised to stay relevant—and profitable—as we move into the next era of commerce.
Customers want to chat with you in real-time
Commerce has always been conversational. From sales to support, conversations are still at the heart of how customers build personal connections with brands they love. But things have changed, and business owners must adapt in return.
In the absence of in-person customer service, live chat apps have become crucial for businesses and buyers alike. We started to see exponential growth in store owners using Shopify Ping to communicate with their buyers as early as April—and it’s continued to trend upwards since then.
On Black Friday, we saw a record number of merchants using Shopify Ping, up 62% from the previous Friday. We saw the second-highest count of conversations over Ping on Cyber Monday, up 33% from the previous Monday.
Finally, whether it’s responding on social media platforms or via SMS, the faster a brand responds, the more likely they are to secure a sale. Shopify's data indicates that businesses who respond to a shopper’s chat within 5 minutes are 70% more likely to get a sale from said shopper.
Accelerated checkout is becoming the new standard
Online shoppers want to fill carts, not forms. That's why we introduced Shop Pay, our accelerated checkout option, earlier this year. Shop Pay remembers your customers’ preferred details and encrypts everything so they can safely speed through checkout.
From January to February, we conducted a study of Shopify's 10,000 largest businesses with Shop Pay enabled. Our data shows that Shop Pay increased their checkout speed by 4x with an average checkout-to-order rate 1.72x times higher than those going through regular checkouts.
Turns out, this held throughout the busiest shopping season, too. During the BFCM period, we saw a 129% growth in sales year-over-year facilitated by Shop Pay, with the average time to checkout decreasing by a full minute since last year.
Cross-border selling is a cornerstone of modern commerce
If this year taught us anything, it’s that relying on a single market or channel can leave your business vulnerable. Nailing your shipping and fulfillment strategy so that you can tap into international markets can supercharge your business. And that’s exactly what many Shopify business owners did this year.
During the BFCM weekend, 14% of all orders purchased from Shopify stores were from another country.
Opening your doors to a global audience may sound daunting. Still, as more commerce moves online, it’s often necessary to look beyond your domestic market.
And while the complexity and cost associated with global selling has historically made it inaccessible to most small businesses, Shopify is changing that. You can rest assured that our platform sets independent businesses up to succeed internationally and compete on a global scale.
Shoppers value sustainability—and so do we
Consumers care about sustainability and ethical consumption, but price and shipping times often inhibit those good intentions. So, we're addressing that head-on.
We know that an average of one kilogram of carbon is emitted into the atmosphere for every package shipped. On a high-traffic shopping weekend like BFCM, shipping emissions grow significantly.
Which is why during this BFCM weekend, Shopify offset all carbon emissions from the delivery of every order placed on our platform, resulting in nearly 62,000 tonnes of carbon emissions offset.
That’s the equivalent of carbon captured and stored by 80,970 acres of North American forests in one year—the size of approximately 61,340 football fields!
A round of applause
It’s been nearly nine months since the pandemic forced many businesses to close their doors. And in the period that followed, we’ve seen the resilience of small businesses on full display.
Reaching BFCM was a feat in itself, but breaking sales records? That was hard to imagine just a few months ago. So, we'll end with this: thank you to independent businesses everywhere. Your ability to adapt, pivot, and thrive—against all odds—is worthy of celebration today.
Illustration by Isabella Fassler
*All of Shopify’s 2020 Black Friday/Cyber Monday data is based on sales by its more than one million businesses in approximately 175 countries around the world from November 27th 12:01 am UTC+13 to November 30th 11:59 PM UTC -8. All data presented here (including worldwide sales) is approximate and is based on various assumptions. All data is unaudited and is subject to adjustment. All financial figures are in USD unless otherwise indicated.