International Business Strategies

Making Black Friday a Global Sales Phenomenon

U.S. e-retailers face increasing competition during Black Friday and Cyber Week. Serving overseas shoppers may deliver the growth they need to gain an edge.

Chris Hutchins's avatar
Chris Hutchins

November 17, 2016


In the United States—where Black Friday has been a retail tradition for decades—it seems as if shoppers are reaching a kind of bargain fatigue. In 2014, 70% of surveyed consumers said they felt Black Friday sales were “unimportant.” Yikes.

That’s bad news for brick-and-mortar retailers, particularly in light of how Thanksgiving weekend sales fared that year. They dropped by 11%, or nearly $7 billion.

Online, the story is different. Analysts suggest that Black Friday and Cyber Monday e-commerce windfalls of years past are being cannibalized by early- and mid-November sales events. However, 2015 saw all-time high sales for U.S. retailers in the week after Thanksgiving.

Last year’s double-digit growth is impressive, but the future remains uncertain. There’s growing online competition and saturation within the U.S. retail market. Smartly serving certain online demographics within the U.S. (such as Spanish-speaking Hispanics) will help, but only for so long.

Our research indicates one of the most powerful ways retailers can generate a sales surge during the holiday season is by launching Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales events in global markets, online.

Awareness of these retail “holidays” is already fairly high in many overseas markets. Nearly 80% of UK retailers told Barclays last year that they were planning to host Black Friday sales. Within the past few years, French and German retailers have also adopted the sales, and have seen positive results.

MotionPoint has a unique perspective on this topic, thanks to the unparalleled visibility we have into the business performance of the translated sites we operate for global retailers. Based on our data and analysis, U.S. retailers that serve overseas consumers online (in their languages of choice) stand to generate meaningful—and previously-untapped—traffic, conversions and revenue.

Take the United Kingdom, where Black Friday sales have been a part of the holiday-shopping zeitgeist for several years. Some of our U.S.-based customers serve UK shoppers online via localized UK-English websites which we operate. They’ve seen sales lifts of 250% to 350% lifts during Black Friday. Beyond the UK, MotionPoint has seen its customers leverage online Black Friday and Cyber Week sales to great effect.

In France, Black Friday online sales are typically between 100% and 230% higher than average. Cyber Week sales are often even higher. Nonetheless, we see a lot of room for improvement; less than 25% of French e-retailers make an effort to create and promote Black Friday deals. In comparison, nearby markets such as Italy and Spain are much more progressive in embracing Black Friday and Cyber Week promotions.

And speaking of Spain, customer awareness for Black Friday is high in this market. One survey suggests nearly 85% of Spaniards know about the sales event, and over half say they’ll be shopping on the day. Based on the performance of one MotionPoint customer that implemented a Black Friday campaign on its Spain website, e-retailers can expect to see positive results: conversions grew by 140% and revenue skyrocketed 470% during its Black Friday campaign.

Germany is another European market that’s embracing Black Friday and Cyber Week sales events. We operate German-language sites for key retailers; those that promote sales during Black Friday see an average 98% increase in sales, representing a nearly-25% boost in revenue. Conversion rates hit a supercharged 70+% on this day, too. We’ve seen German retailers experience 55% increases in average revenue during Cyber Week, as well.

We believe other promising markets, such as Italy, are also ripe for engagement. Indeed, as European consumers become increasingly aware of American shopping holidays, savvy retailers have an opportunity to differentiate their offerings with timely late-November sales.

First Movers have a particularly advantageous position in these early years of global Black Friday and Cyber Week adoption. The sooner companies can serve these markets online, the better-positioned they’ll be as competition increases down the road.

Learn more about how MotionPoint helps global retailers grow their sales and revenue during the holiday shopping season—and beyond—by contacting us. We can help you understand the e-commerce opportunities in these markets, and share powerful intelligence to help your business smartly serve local customers throughout the year.

Chris Hutchins's avatar
Chris Hutchins

November 17, 2016


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