Let’s get the easy prediction over with. Black Friday 2018 is going to be the biggest one yet. Last year, the shopping-fueled holiday reached $5.03 billion in online sales, breaking ecommerce records along the way. Expect that number to grow and those records to break once again in 2018.

While everyone is predicting a banner holiday season for online merchants, there’s considerably less consensus around which specific trends will give merchants their “#BFCMwin.”

How prevalent will voice-assisted search be? Is this the year mobile finally overtakes desktop? Will Cyber Monday or Black Friday drive more online sales?

We’re confident about a few things, and in this post we’ll share our Black Friday predictions for 2018.

Sales will start earlier, last longer

With three major global retail holidays falling in November, and consumers preferring to do their holiday shopping earlier and earlier, what started as a one-day blowout event is expanding to, as Shopify puts it, “one monstrous two-month-long shopping holiday.”

And the numbers don’t lie. Every single day in November 2017 reached $1 billion in ecommerce sales.That includes Singles Day, a sort of anti-Valentine’s for China’s singletons that rang up a cool $25.3 billion in online sales last year. Not bad.

All said, this a good thing! The extended holiday shopping period gives consumers a chance to partake in the festivities without the pressure to do it on a particular day. It also makes life easier for merchants who no longer have to deal with the droves of shoppers known to grind stores to halt on Black Friday. Everybody wins.

Mobile sales overtake desktop (on all ecommerce platforms)

The numbers are in. 95% of Americans own a cell phone in 2018. 62% have used one to make an online purchase in the last 6 months.

Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2017, mobile was responsible for 67% of visits but only 36% of sales in ecommerce. That’s changing—especially for Shopify merchants. In the same period, mobile accounted for 64% of all Shopify orders between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Why? Because Shopify stores are providing better and better mobile shopping experiences. Features like horizontal scrolling, touch-based interaction, increased page load speed, and two-step checkout have all contributed to making the web a better, more mobile-friendly place.

Free shipping remains a top priority

When it comes to shipping, the faster and free-er the better. In fact, 9 out of 10 consumers rated free shipping as their number-one incentive to shop online more.

The funny thing is, it’s not even about saving money. It’s about the perception of getting a good deal. As behavioural economist Dan Ariely explains, we tend to overvalue goods and services advertised as “free”:

“Most transactions have an upside and a downside, but when something is FREE! we forget the downside. FREE! gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is.”\

Given the deep psychological appeal of “free,” it’s no surprise free shipping is so powerful when it comes to influencing purchasing decisions.

Merchants can easily tap into this strategy. You don’t need to offer free shipping on every purchase, but try making it an option for orders above a certain threshold. Doing so will motivate customers to spend more, help them rationalize their spending, and give them a deal to brag to their friends about.

Navigation will make the difference

In the words of our pal Jakob Nielsen, “If the customer can’t find the product, the customer can’t buy the product.”

Obvious? Maybe. The truth is, many online stores are seriously underperforming when it comes to navigation and search. A study by the Baymard Institute of 50 benchmarked ecommerce sites described the average product finding experience as “fairly mediocre.”

And it’s going to cost them. According to one study, if a consumer can’t find what they’re looking for in 8 seconds or less, they will go elsewhere. Another found that 80% of consumers will abandon a site after a poor search experience.

If you can’t deliver an intuitive and frictionless shopping experience this holiday season, you can kiss that #BFCMwin goodbye.

It won’t just be about the deals

Surprise! Black Friday isn’t just about rock-bottom prices and must-have toys. We predict this year will be as much about giving and goodwill as it will be about “stuff.”

Okay, that’s pretty optimistic. That being said, the last few years have seen a growing interest in reclaiming the values the holiday season represents. You know, things like community, generosity, and love.

This will no doubt include viral campaigns like REI’s #OptOutside and Cards Against Humanity’s Saving America, but also smaller “alternative” gestures like checkout donations and #GivingTuesday.

And with 33% of consumers buying from brands they believe are doing social or environmental good, giving back isn’t just a nice gesture, it’s good business.


Looking for more BFCM tips and tricks? Check out our 101-point holiday checklist for Shopify entrepreneurs.

To keep up with us this holiday season, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

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