High Streets Initiative · 3 December 2020

Black Friday 2020: Retailers now use publicly available data to gain advantage

Black Friday 2020 data

New research revealsa major increase in e-commerce retailers leveraging data and technology to understand the actions of competitors and customers over Black Friday period.

With UK retail shops closed over Black Friday this year and online sales already accounting for 28.5% of all retail sales in October (in comparison to 19% in January), consumers were inundated with options when it comes to shopping online, leaving e-commerce retailers facing unprecedented competition.

In a bid to better understand their audiences as well as competitor movements, retailers turned to technology, in order to gain critical insights. This is according to new research from?Oxylabswhich shows e-commerce retailers leveraged web scraping significantly more so, ahead of Black Friday, compared to last year.

The data revealed residential proxy traffic (made per e-commerce customer) increased by£301%on Black Friday 2020 in comparison to 2019 and datacentre proxy traffic increased by£97%on Black Friday 2020 in comparison to Black Friday 2019.

Breaking this down, these findings show there was a huge increase in retailers leveraging technology to efficiently understand their competitors? actions. These insights included data on pricing and promotion of products, product catalogues, shipping information, stock levels, and even consumers’ reviews and ratings of competitors, to name a few.

it was very unfortunate for UK retailers that Lockdown 2.0 coincided with the most important period in the retail calendar, The Golden Quarter and Black Friday. However, our findings from Black Friday this year highlighted the fact e-commerce retailers have had to become far smarter with their use of publicly available data, if they are to secure their share of consumers wallets and survive throughout this turbulent period, ” Julius Cerniauskas, CEO at Oxylabs explained.

in reality, it is unlikely well ever return to the same pre-Covid landscape and even before the pandemic, bricks-and-mortar retailers had been fighting a fierce battle against e-commerce players. Those challenges have now accelerated at a staggering speed, as more businesses pivot away from physical outlets to online stores. Black Friday has evidently proved that retailers are recognising more than ever the need to leverage technology to gain a better understanding of the landscape they operate in.”

our data illustrates that our residential proxies solution recorded the highest number of requests and traffic a week before Black Friday 2020, yet in 2019, the highest number of requests and traffic was recorded one day before Black Friday 2019. This demonstrates customers were leveraging publicly available data further in advance of Black Friday in comparison to the same period last year, showing those operating in the e-commerce space are becoming increasingly aware of the competitive edge that technologies such as web scraping can provide.”

as e-commerce players identified more and more competition it was clearly important for them to have sufficient time to leverage new insights and refine their strategies ahead of one of the busiest trading periods of the year.

The impact of Covid-19 on the e-commerce landscape is undeniable, Cerniauskas added. Generations that never previously shopped online are now doing so, and retailers have moved quickly to meet this demand. “Weve already seen a tremendous increase in traffic across all our platforms when comparing against the same periods last year.

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.