BFCM 2021 Recap: The Ecommerce Rebellion Is In Full Swing


This year was a show of pure athleticism from ecomm businesses everywhere, whose ability to tackle challenges, prioritize their customers, and drive change has us awed and inspired, per usual. 

The 2021 numbers are in, and this is what they say: the ecommerce rebellion is in full swing, and it's fundamentally changing the landscape of shopping and retail for the better. 

Consumers have more options, including small shops with unique goods from makers they want to support. Ecomm businesses are doing things differently, and their loyal customers are coming along for the ride. The result is a shifting landscape that is reimaging retail as a whole with the potential to better serve people, the planet, and society as a whole.  

Drip is here to fuel every minute of it as your ecomm advocate, champion, hype man, and purveyor of easy-to-use, sophisticated email and SMS marketing tools.  

So those numbers we mentioned? The proof is in the figgy pudding, so let's dig in and find out! 

Not as expected. Better. 

This year, sales on Thanksgiving Day came in at $5.14 billion, near flat compared to 2020. On Black Friday, sales dropped from 2020's record-breaking $9 billion to a still-robust $8.9 billion in 2021. Cyber Monday garnered sales of $10.7 billion in 2021, compared to 2020s $10.84 billion. Since Adobe started tracking online holiday sales in 2011, this is the first time Black Friday didn't grow compared to the year prior. That piqued our interest and has us really, really excited. (source: Adobe

Wait, what?! 

Ok, hold up, let us explain. There is one essential data point missing to get the full picture of this year's BFCM shopping trends: overall sales from Nov 1st through 30th. This number begins to reveal what is so exciting about this year's holiday shopping insights.

When looking at total sales in November, the ecommerce rebellion realized a nice $19 billion boost, equating to total online sales of $109 billion (or 11.9% growth over last year). 

That shows us that ecommerce businesses are doing things differently to the benefit of all and thriving as a result. 

What's more, in a season where it might be tempting to cite slowed growth as the big headline, the fact is that from Nov 1 - 30, there were "22 days that exceeded $3B in online spend, a new milestone. In 2020, only 9 days topped $3B".

If 2020 taught us anything…

It's that today, adaptability, resourcefulness, and the ability to pivot is essential for any and every business.

Preparation for this year's holiday shopping event included concerns around pandemic-related fulfillment challenges and supply chain issues caused by shipping port congestion. 

So what did you, the ecommerce rebellion, do about it? You started selling sooner with strategies such as early sale access for VIP customers (and, in doing so, deepening their loyalty) and opening up promotions so early-bird shoppers could checkout with a cart full of deals before the Turkey cooled.

A closer look at ecommerce first companies.

We see this trend continue when looking at Shopify's BFCM data. The commonality between Shopify stores is key: they're all independent DTC ecommerce first brands. The habits of a Shopify store customer are early adopters, have "grown up" with online shopping, or are looking to shop from independent retailers. In short, the consumers of the present, future, and more or less, the target customer for any online business. Looking at Shopify numbers can give us clues about the future.

This year, Shopify merchants saw a +21% increase in Black Friday sales compared to 2020 (and remember, 2020 saw a tidal surge of +75% growth compared to 2019).

Compared to 2019 pre-pandemic shopping, Shopify merchants have experienced about 111% increase in Black Friday sales numbers to date. 

This is your cue to let your jaw hit the floor in giddy excitement - at least, that's what we're doing over here. 

Another key takeaway: while Adobe reported 42% of shoppers on mobile with a 2-3.5% conversion rate, the Shopify microcosm saw 71% of customers shopping and checking out from their phones and only 29% checking out on desktop. 

With more people working from home and connected to both mobile and desktop devices at any given time, it's never been more critical to have an integrated, synchronized SMS and email strategy.

Take this as notice to start (or double down) on your SMS marketing strategy; it's the second engine that will power your success in 2022. 

And the award for Best Emerging Artist goes to: buy-now-pay-later. 

As ecomm matures, it's carving space for innovation. The emergence of buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) companies like Quadpay, Klarna, Afterpay, and Affirm are prime examples of a service that perfectly complements the needs of the ecommerce shopper. The 2021 holiday season has so far seen a lift in the usage of BNPL options, "with revenue up 21 percent YoY and orders up 1 percent YoY." This is undoubtedly a space to keep an eye on throughout the holiday season and into 2022. 

What's up in the Drip-isphere? Crazy growth, that's what. 

Drip customers were busy this BFCM, sending 20% more emails in 2021 compared to 2020. And all of those emails paid off because Drip customers had 12.85% more overall foot traffic on their websites. 

All that traffic? It turns out it wasn't just window shoppers. These customers had intent to purchase, and Drip customers saw email attributed revenue increase by 9% compared to the same window in 2020. 

It doesn't stop there, those shoppers not only wanted to shop, but they wanted to buy more. Drip customers realized a 4% increase in average order value (approx $120/order), which is 18% higher than the AOV across all Shopify merchants ($101.20).  

What's the takeaway? 

Ecommerce is getting more mature, redefining shopping habits, and changing how people engage online; it's the ecomm rebellion in action, and we're here for every minute of it. 

This holiday season so far, customers have spent more over a longer time frame, responded to early sales and marketers efforts to get ahead of supply chain and fulfillment issues, they're shopping on both mobile and desktop, and ecommerce first brands are growing like crazy. 

Here are a few takeaways to carry into the end of the year and to inform your strategies for 2022:

Be a customer first rebel.

Businesses today should continue to prioritize customers and not be afraid to break from convention in their efforts to be customer first. Doing so makes things better for everyone, from the people selling, making, fulfilling, and shipping products to those purchasing and using them; the result is loyal customers and thriving businesses.

In 2022, sync your email, SMS, mobile, and desktop strategy.

With data showing the prevalence of checkouts on mobile for ecomm first brands, as well as split browsing and shopping between mobile and desktop, it's time to sync up your email and SMS strategies and optimize your marketing for engagement across mobile and desktop. 

Keep pace through the end of the year.

If the BFCM spree says anything, it's that customers are engaged and want to shop. In these last weeks of 2021, continue to connect with your customers making it easy to shop for the perfect gift (aka bundles) and know precisely when holiday shipping cutoffs are arriving. Optimize your emails and SMS strategy with high-performing automations, and you'll reap the benefits of this exciting shopping season. 

We're inspired, and with you every step of the way. 

At Drip, we're proud and humbled to serve brands that can spread joy through their unique products. The preparation, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears that went into kicking off the 2021 shopping season was nothing short of herculean. 

We're excited for our customers and ecommerce as a whole and feel lucky to power the ecommerce rebellion. We're constantly innovating to bring you the best resources so you can be a savvy super-marketer with sophisticated yet easy-to-use tools in your repertoire. 

In 2022, we're already planning big updates like more advanced customer segmentation tools, an updated analytics dashboard, and more advancements in email and SMS. 

Ready to join our crew? We help over 25,000 marketers grow their ecommerce businesses. Sign up for your free trial today, or talk to an Drip expert.