2018 Black Friday Recap | Worldlink Integration Group | Supermarket, electronics store and clothing shop banner set with people shopping and buying products on shelvesBlack Friday 2018 has been one of the best examples of how the supposed “Retail Apocalypse” has been actually a great boon to the retail industry as a whole.

Though brick-and-mortar sales declined by about 1.7%, overall holiday sales are projected to increase by six percent up until the 25th. So far, industry experts with eMarketer expect the strongest growth since 2011. This growth flies against the contraction the retail industry has seen in previous years in terms of overall foot traffic, and even on Black Friday last week. The researchers with eMarketer credit low unemployment, strong income growth, and high consumer confidence for the expected boost in spending.

If the 2018 holiday season is as strong as projected, it could be great for both retailers and customers – after all, strong sales help fuel innovation and further development of in-store customer experiences.

Ecommerce has been increasing even faster, with online sales increasing by twenty-four percent this year. Growth alone is not the only important metric; so let’s take a look at what strengths were displayed by brick-and-mortar stores this year.

Other Metrics For Measuring Your Black Friday Performance

Even though most customers say they prefer shopping online, the in-store traffic monitoring service ShopperTrak reported that the foot traffic declines that characterized recent years have flattened out, and in specialty retail, may be on the rebound.

Most brick-and-mortar retailers have been prioritizing a revamp of their customer journey. This has been done to great effect in stores like Best Buy, who have built strong branding and customer service thanks to their focus on the experience.

Larger retailers have had a hard time adjusting, with stores such as Macy’s and Lowe’s having closed many locations in the past few years. This year has marked a flattening out of that trend, which could be the start of a rebound for adjusting retailers.

In contrast to these larger retailers, among the best indicators for brick-and-mortar is the expansion of ecommerce retailers into the physical retail space. The proliferation of formerly online-only businesses opening holiday pop-up shops across NYC is just one of the metrics that should be a part of your analysis.

Even though the big-box giants of the past have seen their overall store numbers decrease, occupied retail space is increasing in several major cities, with the expansion in part coming from these digital retailers.

A single year of growth, or a slowed decline, is of course not a sure sign of a rebound for the whole industry. However, the omnichannel mentality of having strong online and physical store options is almost certainly the best way to invest if there is indeed a rebound occurring.

Those companies with such an omnichannel strategy captured 88 percent of spending on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, according to the ICSS. In addition, as we’ve described in the past, almost two-thirds of shoppers who visited a physical store to pick up goods ordered online made an additional in-store purchase. The use of click-and-collect was also higher this past Thursday and Friday. In addition, in-store purchases were slightly larger than online purchases, with larger products like TVs and furniture almost exclusively being made within physical stores.

The New Omnichannel Retail Model

The contraction of the more numerous physical retailers and the rapid growth of digital stores in brick-and-mortar indicate that the retail rebound is non-traditional: a mix of ecommerce and physical stores is the future.

That sort of business model entails a great need for integration across all stores between the traits that make both the physical and digital stores work. In other words, your cloud computing service and POS options need to be consistent across all your locations, whether online or brick-and-mortar.

To make that happen, your stores need to have enough bandwidth, proper Wi-Fi coverage, and a fast enough network to make sure your IT framework is efficient and works in real-time.

If you are preparing for such an integration in 2019, who you select as a technology partner matters. You need a partner who can effectively roll out, tune up, and test your new touchpoints as well as perform a refresh or upgrade around your store schedules. You want the ability to roll out a new customer experience without disrupting your current customers’ experience at the start of 2019.

Book a meeting with Worldlink today to find out how we can help you create a seamless, satisfying, and branded customer experience across all of your stores, or fill out the contact form to the right.