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Unlocking Black Friday 2023: Learning From The Past

Scarlett Bendelow
7 min read
Unlocking Black Friday 2023: Learning From The Past

As the days grow shorter and the holiday season approaches, the retail world is gearing up for Black Friday. As we early prepare for this shopping extravaganza, we can't help but dive into the insights gained from the results of last year unravelling the successes, dissecting the challenges and exploring the invaluable lessons that will help you prepare for Black Friday 2023 with precision and confidence.

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is an annual shopping event that typically takes place on the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, which falls on the fourth Thursday of November and marks the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season.

The term "Black Friday" originated from the idea that retailers balance sheets would turn from red (indicating losses) to black (indicated profits) due to the surge in sales during this period.

In the United Kingdom, the timing of Black Friday has most relevance for its proximity to Christmas, offering consumers the chance to save money on their Christmas gifts and retailers an opportunity to boost sales. It has become a pivotal moment for both consumers and businesses in the UK, shaping the way people shop and plan for the holidays.

Last Year's Success Stories

There was a lot of speculation that last year's Black Friday/Cyber Monday may be a little subdued compared to previous years, and to some extent, this was pretty evident. The prevailing cost of living crisis and looming recession cast a shadow over consumer spending habits, prompting many to exercise caution and tighten their purse strings. Yet, it was precisely these challenges that made it all the more imperative for us to elevate our marketing efforts, break through the cacophony of promotions, and ensure our clients took centre stage in front of these discerning shoppers.

Electric Tobacconist

Following the migration from Visualsoft to Aero CommerceElectric Tobacconist had their best day to date on Cyber Monday (2650 transactions!). But this performance wasn't confined to Cyber Monday alone; it was part of a weekend-long success. Throughout the entire weekend, Electric Tobacconist's conversion rate averaged 24%, a testament to the effectiveness of their new platform in converting visitors into paying customers. Furthermore, the revenue over the weekend saw a remarkable upswing of 30% when compared to the same period the previous year. 

  • 💻 Over 2k transactions in 24 hours

  • 🤝 Conversion rate averaged 24%

  • 🤑 Revenue was up 30% during the same period last year! 


Across the Atlantic, the economic outlook was a little less bleak, which paved the way for our international clients in the United States to enjoy a bumper weekend of sales. For PocketWatches, the weekend started with a bang, with a staggering 15-fold increase in transactions compared to the previous year. When considering the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend in its entirety:

  • 📈 1,500% increase in Organic visitors (we'll put that down to ranking #1 for 'pocket watch' )

  • 🚀 Conversion Rate was up 182%. 

  • 💸 The site generated 3,000% more revenue.


Aquaroc's success on the other hand stands out as a shining example of consistent improvement and strategic prowess in the competitive eCommerce landscape. Their ability to thrive during the high-stakes Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend without specific promotions is a testament to their customer base and the quality of their products. 

  • 🚀 Conversion Rate was up 111%. 

  • 💸 The site generated 103% more revenue (an additional £10k on last year).

  • 🥇 Remained #1 for broad terms such as 'stone bath'. 

Predictions for 2023

The retail landscape, ever dynamic and evolving, is indeed poised with similar speculation as last year, and the current economic landscape remains a significant influencer in the equation. As we navigate the delicate balance between consumer sentiment and the continued impact of the cost of living crisis, it also provides a unique opportunity to reshape Black Friday - and consumer behaviour - in a manner that is not only more sustainable but also more focused on experiences.

  • ⚪️ Extended Sales Period - What used to be a singular day of deals has gradually transformed into a weekend-long, and sometimes even week-long affair, with the addition of Cyber Monday and pre-Black Friday sales. This year, anticipate that the sales period will be expected to extend even further, turning into what some are calling a "Black November" event.

  • ⚪️ Online Domination - eCommerce's growing influence will likely persist, with a significant portion of Black Friday shopping happening online. Retailers will further enhance their online shopping experience, rolling out exclusive online deals and incentives such as free shipping and exclusive access for newsletter subscribers, further encouraging customers to shop from the comfort of their homes.

  • ⚪️ AI-Powered Personalisation - In an era where consumers are inundated with choices and information, tailoring the shopping experience to individual preferences is not just a bonus but an expectation. Whether it's AI-driven chatbots, tailored product recommendations or post-purchase personalisation, it enhances the shopping experience for consumers and empowers retailers to make data-driven decisions and maximise the potential of high-stake shopping events.

  • ⚪️ Social Commerce - The increasing role of social media in driving sales is a testament to the evolving way consumers shop and interact with brands. It underscores the importance for businesses to have a strong and strategic presence on social platforms, not only for brand visibility but also for direct sales and customer engagement. As these platforms continue to innovate and enhance their eCommerce capabilities, their influence on the retail landscape will likely continue to grow with consumers making purchases directly through the likes of TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. 

Getting Ready for 2023

As we stand on the threshold of Black Friday 2023, it's time to seize the opportunities and surmount the challenges that lie ahead with our top tips to ensure your journey towards Black Friday is marked by strategic finesse and exceptional execution.

  • ⚪️ Start Early - Commencing your Black Friday preparations well in advance provides a distinct competitive edge. Promotions can be crafted, tested, and refined to perfection. Your marketing campaigns can be strategised down to the finest detail, from designing compelling visuals to honing messaging for maximum impact. This meticulous planning ensures that your promotional efforts are not rushed or hasty but instead well-calibrated for optimal results

  • ⚪️ Customer-Centric Approach - Focus on what your customers want and need. Tailor your deals and promotions to match their preferences. Ultimately, a customer-centric focus ensures that Black Friday isn't just about sales numbers; it's about creating lasting connections with shoppers and delivering value that extends far beyond the shopping event.

  • ⚪️ Website Optimisation - A well-optimised website is critical for BF because it ensures that your online store can handle the surge in traffic and deliver a smooth shopping experience. On such a high-stakes shopping day slow-loading pages, glitches, or crashes will lead to lost sales and mistrust among customers.

  • ⚪️ Mobile Optimisation - With 70% of shoppers turning to their smartphones and tablets to make purchases, ensuring your website and mobile app are fast, user-friendly, and visually appealing is essential for capturing the growing mobile market.

  • ⚪️ Social Media Buzz - In a digital age where social media plays such a central role in shaping consumer behaviour, leveraging its power to build anticipation is a strategic move that can significantly impact your sales and brand perception. So tease your deals, run contests and giveaways, and build momentum by engaging with your audience.

  • ⚪️ Data-Driven Decisions - Deep dive into historical data to identify trends and uncover insights into consumer behaviour and preferences. This will allow retailers to pinpoint which product categories garnered the most attention, the peak times for website traffic, and the most effective marketing channels. Armed with this knowledge, businesses can make informed decision to refine their approach.

Scarlett Bendelow
13 Mar 20247 min read