Shoppers Have High Expectations for Performance on Black Friday
November 24, 2020
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Shoppers are heading into Black Friday with high expectations for digital experiences and are only willing to experience a service interruption of five minutes or less to get the best deal, according to the 2020 Black Friday and Cyber Monday eCommerce Trends Study, from xMatters.

The study also found that more than half (52.2%) of e-commerce technology professionals said that ensuring a positive customer experience will be a critical operations challenge along with the manual work needed to resolve incidents (29.9%) during this high-usage time.

Additionally, protecting customer data and maintaining service availability during peak shopping times are top concerns for e-commerce technology teams heading into Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping events this year.

"Today's research provides additional insight into the new behaviors and increased reliance on digital services that shoppers have developed because of the pandemic," said Troy McAlpin, CEO at xMatters. "With any big revenue opportunity, like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, comes the pressure for companies to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Proactive incident response and management practices grounded in automation, collaboration and constant learning will be key in delivering positive and always-on customer experiences."

Online Shopping Expected to Dominate Black Friday

A majority of consumers surveyed reported that they have increased their online shopping as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

■ For 79% of consumers, online shopping has increased as a result of the pandemic.

■ Nearly half (45.2%) reported that they plan to shop online only during Black Friday this year.

■ 48.4% plan to complete between 51 to 100% of their holiday shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year.

Additionally, a majority of e-commerce technology professionals (78.1%) expect an increase of at least 41% in online shopping and use of digital service offerings during this Black Friday and Cyber Monday compared to 2019.

Consumers Only Willing to Wait 5 Minutes or Less During a Service Interruption

Generally, consumers will not be as patient during this year's Black Friday compared to previous years where Black Friday shoppers have notoriously stood for hours in line, with some camping outside of stores overnight to get their hands on doorbuster deals. However, some age groups will be more patient than others:

■ 43.2% of consumers are willing to experience an interruption (e.g., a website or app crashing, unresponsive website, application or digital service, etc.) of only five minutes or less to get the best deal or to purchase a specific product.

■ Gen Z shoppers (ages 18-23) are more patient compared to millennials (ages 24-39), Gen X shoppers (ages 40-55) and baby boomers (age 55-73):

- Over half (53.8%) of millennials will only wait 5 minutes or less during an interruption in comparison to 40.9% of Gen Z shoppers.

- Almost a quarter (22.7%) of Gen Z shoppers will wait up to an hour to get the best deal compared to 10.6% of millennials. Only 5.3% of Gen X and 5% of baby boomer shoppers were willing to experience an interruption for an hour.

When asked to select all that applied from a list of reasons that would cause them to abandon their online shopping cart or end an online shopping experience on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, consumers selected security, speed and reliability as the top three reasons:

■ Security: Nearly half (49.4%) said security or concerns that their personal information may be compromised would cause them to end their online shopping experience on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Baby boomers are also 74% more concerned about security issues in comparison to Gen Z shoppers.

■ Speed: A slow mobile app or website would cause 43.5% of consumers to end their online shopping experience.

■ Reliability: Additionally, 39.4% said if an app or website was unreliable or did not work or if search options were inaccurate, they would end their online shopping experience.

However, there is an opportunity for organizations to win back shoppers if an incident is resolved quickly. More than half (54.2%) of consumers are willing to go back to an app or website later that day and try again if a service stops working or slows down during their shopping experience.

Pandemic Drives E-commerce Innovations

COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation in many industries, including retail. The majority (81.8%) of e-commerce technology teams surveyed said they delivered faster software releases to meet customer demand in response to COVID-19. Nearly all (96.4%) said they are confident that these new innovations are capable of supporting Black Friday and Cyber Monday traffic.

Despite this confidence, many technology professionals at large e-commerce organizations still expect challenges associated with these new innovations. A majority (69.4%) said they have experienced increased complexity in and around the functionality of new systems and an increased difficulty in capacity planning (46.8%). Other expected critical operations challenges include:

■ Ensuring a positive customer experience (52.2%)

■ Manual work needed to resolve and report incidents (29.9%)

■ Siloed functions prohibiting collaboration (29.3%)

When asked what concerns technology professionals most heading into Black Friday and Cyber Monday, respondents reported:

■ Protecting customer data (37.6%)

■ Maintaining service availability in peak traffic times (34.7%)

■ Dependency of and reliance on third-party systems such as a tax system, ERP, CRM or shipping and fulfillment (18.5%)


Minimizing the Cost of a Poor Customer Experience

E-commerce organizations can't afford to have an app or website crash during Black Friday or Cyber Monday when a majority of consumers will be shopping online.

E-commerce professionals estimate significant revenue impacts if a site or online shopping application goes down for 30 minutes or less on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Over a quarter (27.1%) said that 30 minutes or less of downtime can cost $100,000 or more.

To prepare for the most anticipated shopping day of the year and to keep prospective customers from going elsewhere for their online shopping needs, technology professionals are:

■ Increasing security measures (24.5%)

■ Preparing customer incentives such as discounts or abandon cart promotions (19.4%)

■ Developing a unique P1 plan (18.2%)

Methodology: xMatters surveyed 300 American consumers and 300 technology professionals at e-commerce organizations of 1,000 employees or more for the 2020 Black Friday and Cyber Monday eCommerce Trends Study.

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