Black Friday came a week later than usual in 2019, which sent retailers into overdrive – launching into an early “Black Friday week” rather than relying on the traditional Black Friday itself as the kickoff date. Motivated in part by this unusual lateness in the calendar as well as the ongoing uncertainty around US tariff wars with China, which promise to make consumer electronics and toys -- big holiday sellers -- abnormally expensive this year, retailers wanted to get ahead of the challenges posed by offering an earlier, longer and steeper discount period.
Despite a Chinese economic slowdown, ongoing tension between China and the US as the tariff and trade war drags on, and escalating Hong Kong unrest, there’s been no damper on another record-breaking Singles Day. You’d never guess that there was any change to consumer spending power or appetite at all.
Consulting firm Accenture has been discussing the importance of hyper-relevance in e-commerce and across online experiences. What is hyper-relevance? Essentially, it’s argued that we are moving beyond an age of personalization toward a more contextual and individual online (and in this case, shopping) experience. That is, personalization has not always performed well historically, whether because the company in question has the wrong or not enough information about the individual consumer to make personalization truly personal - or because the infrastructure powering sites that employ personalization has failed to deliver when the stakes were high.
Every year around this time, companies start to tell (or be told) cautionary tales about the e-commerce ghosts of Black Fridays past. Here we mean recounting the calamitous failures of major online retailers, essentially falling short of a good customer experience or being completely unable to deliver website content at their biggest revenue-making moment of the year. And without fail, this pattern is repeated annually – both the cautionary pleas to take action against such catastrophes and the retailers who have somehow declined to take heed.