Survey: More Consumers Chose Online Over In-Store Shopping This Black Friday

More and more consumers are choosing ecommerce over traditional in-store shopping experiences. They’re trading big-box stores and the hustle and bustle of the mall for the convenience of retail giants like Amazon as well as smaller, focused online retailers who are able to provide products that scratch a particular itch. In fact, nearly 5x more consumers shopped exclusively online during Black Friday 2021 according to a recent survey conducted by ShipEngine. See below for the results of this survey.

Black Friday Survey Results

Here’s what respondents said about their Black Friday holiday shopping preferences this year:

  • I shopped exclusively online this Black Friday: 51% 
  • I shopped both online and in-store this Black Friday: 23% 
  • I did not shop this Black Friday: 14%
  • I shopped exclusively in-store this Black Friday: 12%

Online retailers, no matter the niche they serve, are incredibly busy from October through the end of the year (and even into January). In fact, they are busy enough that carriers like the USPS alter their schedules and rates in order to keep up, from the beginning of holiday shipping season through the returns phase that occurs after the beginning of the year.

What Draws Customers to Online Shopping During the Holidays?

Modern shoppers cite a number of reasons for the shift in their purchasing habits. The impact of COVID-19 is obvious. Pandemic life has changed how we parent, work, sleep, eat — and shop. The pandemic has certainly inspired consumers to consider the risks associated with crowded places like shopping malls, especially during major shopping days like Black Friday. Consumers with young children find themselves asking questions like: “Will grandma be able to safely visit with us for Christmas?” Answers to these questions inspire them to shop from the comforts of home. 

The current supply chain breakdown is another reason why many chose online shipping this holiday season. It’s sometimes difficult to find high-demand products locally, so buyers turn to sources in different parts of the country or world.

Regardless of these impacts, the shift from in-person shopping to ecommerce has been coming for years. Modern ecommerce sellers offer a number of benefits, including:

  • Free and fast shipping.
  • Broader product selections.
  • The convenience of shopping from anywhere at any time. 

These benefits have a magnetic pull on consumers who are weary of the crowded, competitive shopping environments at brick-and-mortar stores. The pandemic and supply chain crisis have only accelerated these developing trends.

Trends & Alternatives to Online Shopping

Even for consumers who choose not to shop solely online, hybrid models that integrate added convenience are common. Omnichannel models that incorporate things like same-day home delivery, buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS), and curbside pickup have dramatically increased in popularity. 

While the pandemic largely drove these new options, omnichannel strategies are here to stay. By April 2020, utilization of these methods had jumped 208% compared to a year prior, and the growth of these new methods has only continued as more people seek the most convenient way to get the goods and merchandise they want and need.

How to Effectively Manage Black Friday as an Online Retailer

The majority of shoppers will continue to use online services for their holiday shopping. For high-volume ecommerce retailers who expect to experience high volume on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s critical to have support structures in place that can handle peak loads.

Choosing partners that offer scalable services that can help you meet consumer demand and make busy days go more smoothly. The right partners can also help you focus your priorities elsewhere. On days like Black Friday when orders are coming in and your team is trying to get shipments out the door, a product like ShipEngine rises to the occasion and provides the performance that ecommerce companies need.

For example, ShipEngine supported clients on 2020’s Cyber Monday with stable, responsive services. On Cyber Monday 2020, ShipEngine achieved the following:

  • Processed more than 8.6 million shipments.
  • Reached 90,000 RPM at the peak.
  • Responded in 400 milliseconds at the peak.
  • Responded in 220 milliseconds on average.

When using a service like ShipEngine, ecommerce retailers save time and money through access to comprehensive shipping services and discounted rates. ShipEngine provides access to more than 100 carrier and marketplace integrations, empowering ecommerce businesses to quickly import their orders and get shipments out the door as quickly as possible. The resources it would take for most ecommerce businesses to build and maintain their own integrations would be time- and cost-prohibitive.

Be ready for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other high-volume ecommerce days when you integrate with ShipEngine. Get an API key to start building, or contact one of our ecommerce experts to talk about your business and its shipping needs.

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