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Customer empathy: the key to Black Friday shopping bliss

| November 25, 2019
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What’s the best remedy for overindulging on your annual Thanksgiving feast with family and friends? With the National Retail Federation estimating $730 billion in spending on Black Friday, it’s a safe bet that many consumers around the world—from the US to the UK—will spend the last weekend in November working off those extra calories by shopping for the holidays. 

As customer experience becomes the key competitive differentiator for companies, the shopping experience continues to evolve, especially when it comes to the year’s most profitable shopping season. To learn more about how consumer habits and sentiment about Black Friday shopping has changed, UserTesting conducted a small study with 30 consumers between the ages of 19 and 65 in the US and UK. 

Black Friday Infographic

No more drama

Despite the fact that the consumers in our study planned to shop on Black Friday, the vast majority weren’t looking forward to it and wished they could change the shopping experience. Over 50% of participants complained about the hysteria and craziness of Black Friday, citing crowded stores and parking lots, angry and aggressive shoppers, and understaffed and understocked stores.

After hearing how frustrated shoppers are with Black Friday, it’s almost surprising that anyone does it at all anymore, let alone at projected record-breaking levels. But for many shoppers, the deals are just too good to resist.

Deal or no deal

If there’s one thing that gets shoppers to overlook the crowds, stress, and limited parking, it’s a good deal. When asked about their favorite part of shopping in-store on Black Friday, 67% of participants cited the sales. 

Snagging those deals requires a bit of planning and a lot of coffee, with over 60% of shoppers noting they plan to get their shopping done between midnight and noon on Black Friday, with 20% planning to shop between midnight and 6:00 AM!

Online or in-store? Shoppers want both

With so much talk about the “death of brick-and-mortar,” one couldn’t be blamed for assuming that everyone prefers to shop exclusively online. But one look at global retail sales numbers tells a different story. The share of ecommerce sales is increasing, up 18% to $3.46 trillion in 2019, but still represents a small portion of a total of $21 trillion in global retail sales. 

The shoppers in our study reflected this trend, with 50% stating they prefer to shop both online and in-store.

Empathy is the key to great holiday shopping experiences

Although most of the participants in this study cited the deals as their main motivator for shopping this Black Friday, nearly all felt the experience as a whole left a lot to be desired. Whether it meant better parking, more inventory, or additional sales staff, the message was clear: customers want retailers to hear their needs and create better shopping experiences based on their feedback.