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The search bar got a workout on Black Friday 2022

January 17, 2023
Sanjay Mehta

Head of Industry, Lucidworks

Matt Sullivan

Global Head of Strategic Partnerships, Google Cloud

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Editor’s note: To kick off the new year and in preparation for NRF The Big Show, we invited partners from across our retail ecosystem to share stories, best practices, and tips and tricks on how they are helping retailers transform during a time that continues to see tremendous change. Lucidworks had previously published “4 lessons learned from 2022’s Cyber 5.” Please enjoy this updated entry from our partner.

Ecommerce retailers that got customers in and buying on Black Friday won an early piece of wallet share. According to Adobe Analytics, shoppers spent more than $9B dollars this Black Friday, a 2% increase from 2021. 

For many retailers, Cyber Monday outperformed Black Friday sales. However, Lucidworks saw several of their retail customers buck the Cyber Monday lore and watched website activity peak on Black Friday. For one athletic apparel retailer, search query volume was 60% higher on Black Friday compared to Cyber Monday. Meanwhile, customers on other retail sites stuck to tradition and saw a 96% uptick from Black Friday to Cyber Monday.  

Here are four trends Lucidworks, a Google Cloud partner and search solution provider for some of the world’s biggest ecommerce brands, saw from a top athletic apparel retailer as well as insights from Lucidworks leaders.

1. Mobile Wins (Again)

Nearly 75% of unique individual shopper sessions took place on mobile devices over the course of the Cyber 5, the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. On Black Friday, 92% of all unique shopper sessions took place on a mobile device. However, on Cyber Monday, mobile shopping was only 66%. Conversion rates on mobile still lag those on desktop.  Statista notes conversion rates were approximately 2.3 percent lower than desktop.

As one could imagine, travel and mobile commerce are strongly tied. As brands get better at connecting every channel, brand engagement and purchase behavior across devices increase. The increased connective tissue with the shopper, particularly through mobile apps, increases the accuracy of targeted offers and products as well.   

2. Customers Love a Morning Browse on Black Friday

Search queries for one of Lucidworks’ apparel retail customers topped out at a cool 59 million on Black Friday, with the most searches happening from 10am-11am ET. The number of searches at the same hour on Cyber Monday were nearly three times lower. Unique shopper sessions also peaked on Black Friday, with Thanksgiving day in a close second. Black Friday sessions eclipsed Cyber Monday by about 35%. Search and discovery solutions like Lucidworks, hosted on Google Cloud, are able to handle the scale. Lucidworks leverages Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) to help manage the Lucidworks search engine at scale through containerized deployments. This enables Lucidworks to develop, test, and release new features quickly and to isolate its workloads. Further, the accessibility, stability, and strong foundation of security provided by Google Cloud are essential during the peak shopping season. 

Promotions across the web, on email, social, and on the site can play a big role in how early shoppers start their browsing and buying,” says Jenny Gomez, Lucidworks VP of Marketing. “Many retailers opt to keep the promotions rolling from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday. Facets, landing pages, and recommendations are powerful tools for the customer experience. But after this year’s Cyber 5, we saw that search still rules the roost. The core to a great digital experience starts with the search bar, the place where shoppers act with the most intent; better search, happier customers, bigger Cyber 5 conversion haul.” 

The ability for retailers to accelerate relevance and reduce search abandonment will continue to be a priority. Recently, Lucidworks announced that they will integrate their Fusion technology with Google Cloud’s Retail Search solution to deliver an elevated online product discovery experience. When combined with Google Cloud Retail Search, Lucidworks Fusion orchestrates Google’s search and shopper intelligence trained on queries and events to enable instant sharper relevance across the shopper journey.

4. Virtual Shopping Carts Flooded the Site 

The number of total customer carts peaked on Black Friday. There were six times the number of carts as compared to the Tuesday of that week. Most customers had somewhere between 1-5 items in the cart over the course of Cyber 5. Regardless of items per cart, the number of products across all carts peaked on Black Friday. 

Increased cart rate and cart size relative to the increase of traffic are good indications that shoppers are finding relevant items. Shopping carts are also frequently used by gifting shoppers as a tool to get confirmation on product availability and the final cost after total fees and discounts. Shopping cart sharing can also help purchase rates as it allows gifters to collaborate with others, removing the guesswork out of the purchasing as well as enabling group purchases.

5. Shoppers Relied on Recommendations

Shoppers relied on recommendations on product detail pages over the course of Cyber 5. Based on what customers were looking at, they were served relevant “You may also like” recommendations. The number of total clicks on recommended items peaked on Black Friday, with Thanksgiving in a close second. In addition, shoppers clicked on and then bought recommended items on Black Friday more than 55% more often than on Cyber Monday. 

Applying a recommender strategy based on touchpoints and context is key. As new visitors may lack familiarity with a retailer’s catalog, recommenders for “you may also like”, “similar items”, and “complete the look” that are placed on a product detail page or the shopping cart page are particularly effective in driving purchases for these new shoppers. For known or repeat shoppers, personalized recommendations such as “may we suggest” or “just for you” based on the customer’s engagement—past and present—are a great way to drive additional purchases.

Cyber 2023

Is it already time to start preparing for Cyber 2023? Not until you have an understanding of how your website performed during this year’s holiday shopping season. Look through the data to understand the customer journey. Did they get stuck with dead-end searches? Were they clicking on recommendations on the product detail page? Did they journey from mobile to desktop and back? Once you can answer questions like these you can optimize everything from the search bar, to suggestions, to landing pages, and more. Now pat yourself on the back for making it through Cyber 5 2022. 

Need a hand optimizing your site so shoppers can find what they need easily? Drop us a line and check out the Lucidworks data discovery and search solution available on the Google Cloud Marketplace.

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