Insights · 4 min read

Black Friday recap: 3 ecommerce trends we noticed

The Fullstory Team
Posted December 10, 2021
Black Friday recap: 3 ecommerce trends we noticed

Readers of a certain age may remember the Black Friday shopping season of 1996, hallmarked by one very popular toy: the Tickle-me Elmo doll.

A limited available quantity of the ticklish muppet combined with sky-high demand resulted in injured store clerks and a veritable black market of Elmo scalpers, looking to capitalize on the craze.

Fast forward 25 years, and Black Friday shopping is as popular as ever, raking in $8.9 billion in 2021. The major difference, however, is the slice of that pie that online and mobile shopping has claimed since Elmo. In 1996, just 20 million American adults had access to the internet. Today, it’s closer to 320 million.

As Fullstory helps brands of all sizes understand their users’ digital experiences to optimize what’s successful and eliminate friction, we can track high-level trends from the noise of  global shopper behavior. 

Based on hundreds of thousands of site visits, our team noticed three trends—plus some tips you can put into practice today to help your business succeed.

There’s more ecommerce traffic than ever

As Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at NYU, described in a recent webinar how the pandemic overhauled the world of commerce:

“Since 2009, the percentage of retail done on digital channels has gone up one percent each year. And as of 2020 it was at 18%, and then in eight weeks it went to 28%. We had a decade in eight weeks.”

With a stumbling supply chain and record demand for products delivered prominently through an ecommerce platform, it’s no surprise that there is more online ecommerce traffic than ever– and this year’s Black Friday is a clear example.

In plain English, there are more people shopping online than ever before, and they’re visiting more pages in the process. Across all companies who use Fullstory’s Digital Experience Intelligence platform, we saw an increase in logged session volume.

This steadily increased in the weeks preceding Black Friday and Cyber Monday and reached a peak the weekend following Thanksgiving.

What that means for you: More people visiting your site means higher stakes for user experience. The greater scrutiny you place on your website or mobile app’s UX—and the more qualitative and quantitative data you can gather from your site’s visitors—the stronger your ecommerce engine will be.

Shoppers spent more time on retail sites

Not only did more people visit websites, but the length of time they stayed on those websites increased on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

This is in line with Fullstory’s recent survey of 1,600+ online shoppers, where 90% of consumers noted plans to shop online the same or more compared to last year’s holiday season.

Why the jump in session length? There’s a high likelihood that it’s related to proven tactics like flash deals, clearance sales, and other methods of enticing shoppers. When businesses use these offers, shoppers tend to stick around websites for longer:

What that means for you: Traffic influxes are an incredible opportunity for experimentation. When more people visit your site in a small window of time, create A/B tests or conduct conversion experiments—you’ll reach statistical significance for tests faster than ever.

More traffic doesn’t have to mean more annoyances

Issues like Dead Clicks and Error Clicks increased as the number of sessions increased–but not at the exact same rate.  

When session volume increased, these important Fullstory signals signals rose, but at a lower rate—a 150% to 200% increase in Dead Clicks and Error Clicks, compared to a 200% to 300% increase in sessions.


Connecting some dots, this indicates that Fullstory’s DXI solution is helping shoppers from having frustrated sessions, even as they do more shopping—and online retailers see billions in sales in just a few hours. Fullstory users get up-to-the-second understanding of website performance, offering an opportunity to squash bugs and site errors.

What this means for you: Higher traffic doesn’t have to correlate to higher frustration. Fullstory’s DXI platform helps prevent frustrated sessions even as session volume increases. That keeps retailers’ websites functioning smoothly and helps shoppers keep their frustration under wraps.

Want to see Fullstory’s Digital Experience Intelligence solution for yourself? Grab a demo here.

The Fullstory TeamContributor

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