First, let me say happy holidays to everyone who reads this blog. I hope this round-up finds you all sane and healthy, and finds a little vacation joy during what can only be billed as the new normal.
That said, this new normal of us is just one aspect of a year full of milestones, never before, and events that happen for the first time in a century. Unparalleled is a word often used to describe this year that is in its waning days. Yes, this year was different from previous years, and it should come as no surprise that it changed our habits, rituals, and shopping.
Retail grew 22% to $ 9 billion on Black Friday.
Despite an economy bearing the scars of the ongoing pandemic, retail sales rose 22% ($ 9 billion) on Black Friday. As impressive as the climb is, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. More and more people are choosing to stay at home and shop from the safety and convenience of their mobile devices, laptops and tablets to avoid crowded rooms.
It makes sense that online sales were significantly higher.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday email volumes
It also follows that email, the beating heart of online shopping, was higher too – much higher, to say the least. On Black Friday, Twilio SendGrid processed over 5.8 billion emails on behalf of our customers. Cyber Monday wasn’t a problem with 5.7 billion emails.
Cyber Monday only exceeded Black Friday volume for the second time – 2016 was the last time we saw this phenomenon. This should come as no surprise when you think about how our rituals and habits have changed over the past year.
What used to be a loud, personal, unconstrained human cannonball foot race on the flat screens is now a much more docile swipe-fest performed in our social bubbles. There weren’t any worried door monitors to avoid the crowds of price hunters who pounced on retailers with large boxes for as many gifts and merchandise as possible at bargain prices.
No, it definitely wasn’t this year.
Aside from the enormous volumes, most of the week looked almost the same, as Friday and Monday hit the fever peaks we’d been expecting since we noticed the holiday shipment fluctuations for SendGrid’s 10+ years.
One thing we noticed when analyzing our vacation data was a slight shift in open rates from 2019. Last year we saw higher open rates that peaked on Black Friday and then gradually receded into Cyber Monday. This year we had almost the same behavior, but with one clear difference: Cyber Monday open rates increased!
That monumental open rate makes sense considering that Cyber Monday has been delivered Spending $ 10.8 billion, of which 37% was on smartphones! One of the trends we noticed was more scheduled holiday emails on Black Friday and a noticeable increase in transaction order confirmations on Cyber Monday.
All of this makes sense, considering the vast majority of us have stayed home, avoided shops and crowds, and as some analysts pointed out, started shopping earlier. I also think it’s possible that consumers simply bought more considering how much we all buy every day due to our new normal.
Email is more important than ever
The pandemic has changed our world – that cannot be denied. Companies have gone through real-time digital transformations to adapt and accelerate their businesses. Retailers with healthy foot traffic have struggled to create new virtual experiences, fulfill online orders, and enable roadside pickups. This doesn’t even describe the evolutionary adjustment that has taken place in healthcare, education, and working from home.
With all of these changes, it became clear that email is more important than ever.
Those of us with gray beards and long memories should remember the overuse of the term digital glue: email was digital glue for social media when it was in its infancy, for burgeoning e-commerce and a host of others early online -Services. Too many thought leaders no longer use the term digital glue to describe emails – that was back then. Like everything old that becomes new again, the term digital glue is a suitable description for e-mails.
Today, email not only binds the ephemeral digital services that serve as the basic identifier, but acts as a passport in myriad use cases that you can use to conduct a roadside pickup for groceries, groceries and other goods.
Countless times we have heard people decipher that email is dead or will be dead (and some specific enough to call 2020 the year it will happen) that messaging services are replacing email or that AI and ML are taming the unruly inbox. We can all agree that most (if not all) did not materialize.
Email has proven its adaptability and evolution.
What happened is that the email has moved on. The community that supports the email ecosystem from mailbox providers like Gmail, Yahoo! and Microsoft, to email service providers like Twilio SendGrid, has worked to make it more secure by promoting standards like email DMARC and BIMI too Helping businesses use an inexpensive and widely available means of responsibly connecting people with brands.
Knowing it or not, the ancestors of email created a service designed for that time, and I’m glad the magic of our trusted inboxes allows us to stay connected.
Want to learn more about what to expect for the rest of the pandemic holiday season? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! The Retailer’s Complete Guide to a Pandemic Holiday Season!