Our Learnings So Far For Covid Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2020


It is no surprise to anyone that Covid-19 has dramatically impacted retailers.

British department store group Debenhams will appoint an administrator, with 22,000 jobs at risk across its shuttered 142 stores. US department store Neiman Marcus is also reported to be stepping up preparations to seek bankruptcy protection and in Germany Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof, Germany’s biggest department store retailer, filed for administrative insolvency on 1 April, the company employs more than 28,000 people.

But, for those retailers with strong e-commerce operations they have been able to offset the sales decline from physical stores, or for pure-play e-commerce retailers hit new heights. A recent IBM US Retail Index suggests that e-commerce revenues will increase by 20% in 2020.

In 2020, Black Friday will be on the 27th of November, and Cyber Monday on 30th November. Will it mark the end of the traditional retail event on Friday and the birth of a new behemoth on Monday?! What can marketers learn from this year’s events?

Through our work with retailers like Walmart, Asda, Petco, and also with brands as diverse as Pepsi, Helly Hansen, Microsoft, and Toyota we have a unique insight into how marketers have had to rapidly adapt to the new scenarios.

The in-store events of past years’ Black Friday are fundamentally changed. And, whereas Cyber Monday was an online digital market and search event, it now is very much an omnichannel marketing event, needing careful management of all channels. This has meant some radical shifts to the marketing capabilities required:

  1. New skills for e-commerce. When we review our Marketing Skills Assessment Data we typically report skills are 60% below benchmark suggesting that the gap needs to be closed to improve performance.
  2. Agency capabilities need to change and new scopes written and managed. Many advertisers are not satisfied with their agencies’ e-commerce/social/digital capabilities. From our work with over 130 Agency Appraisal surveys, we can see that these capabilities in some instances receive scores of up to 20% less than the other traditional disciplines assessed in appraisals. We can see the value of e-commerce scopes (and day rates) growing from data in our Flock Agency Scoping Tool, and in the agency pitches we are running we see the priorities for brands shifting to place far greater emphasis on e-commerce than ever before
  3. A remix of media. Our media team have been working to help clients and agencies build new planning frameworks to effectively budget for e-commerce, to manage it, and to work with retailer media in new ways. We have recently rescoped and contracted x2 clients into a globally centralised structure, especially to manage e-commerce campaigns in a fast, efficient manner.  
  4. New agile ways of working with Sales. The increase in e-commerce sales and the links to fulfillment has spawned new ways of working and uses of data, from common dashboards to daily stand-up scrum meetings. We have seen a rapid increase in the number of clients asking for help to build agile ways of working with e-commerce in mind often resulting in a 15% reduction in meetings and 25% reduction in time spent in meetings per campaign.

Whilst Black Friday may not be dead, it is clear that Cyber Monday is in the ascendency and the smartest clients too are transforming their marketing organisations to reflect that change.

Some retailers like Walmart are even spreading ‘Black Friday’ over several days online and in stores to reduce health risk.

If you would like to discuss the changes or our transformation experiences you can book time with Simon, Mitchell, or Kieron and schedule a 20 minute private chat about what we are seeing, and doing, to equip our clients for change.