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Cyber Monday up, Black Friday down: what does it mean for NZ online retail?

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when stores in the US traditionally erupt in a frenzy of consumer madness – is shifting to the online retail world. While 2014’s Black Friday still saw queues of shoppers at all hours of the day and night on Thanksgiving Day and the day after, the latest estimates have shoppers spending 11% less this year in stores. Meanwhile, online shopping on Black Friday and generally during ‘Cyber Week’ have surged, increasing 8.5% on Cyber Monday compared to 2013.

It’s no secret that many consumers are choosing to shop from the comfort of their own homes now. To get around sizing issues, some consumers ‘window shop’ for products – that is, try them on in store – then go home and order online for a juicy discount on the retail price. Others take advantage of e-retailers’ very generous shipping offers – simply buying several sizes of an item and then posting the ones that didn’t fit back, for free.

Large retailers in NZ have already cottoned on to this trend, some with great success. As always, TradeMe was the nation’s biggest online retailer in 2013, but The Warehouse was a close second, after revolutionising their sales with a large online shop.

With $1.3 billion spent by Kiwis last year on overseas online shops, New Zealand retailers have an excellent incentive to open an eCommerce store and fight the international stores for their share of the sizeable profits.

As is the case with all online endeavours – we are no longer limited by national borders. And in this spirit of global connectivity, the Black Friday phenomenon is spreading worldwide. Many retail shops in the UK participated this year – with predictable results – and Cyber Monday, the internet sale that’s morphing into the full-blown ‘Cyber Week’, means that eCommerce stores the world over can entice shoppers in with discounts and promotions. As Black Friday kicks off the Christmas shopping season (as mandated by Roosevelt way back in 1939), NZ retailers would be wise to jump aboard the bandwagon – before it leaves them in the dust.

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