It was the Black Friday where digital reigned supreme. While overall sales fell 20% from last year — leaving some glum folks to call it “bleak Friday” — there was one figure in particular that surprised analysts. Consumers spent more than $9 billion USD online on Black Friday, which is a huge 21.6% increase from last year. Across the four-day spending period of Thanksgiving, online sales topped $23.5 billion.
While we were all adding-to-cart, a lot of brick-and-mortar stores stood empty. And, interestingly, in a move that is highly symbolic of our digital future, some stores even chose to convert their stores into fulfillment centers. According to the New York Times, two Macy’s stores, in Delaware and Colorado, turned their space into fulfillment centers to process the boom of online orders. Of course, this is mostly a result of the pandemic, but the digital experts we talked to have agreed: while the pandemic has accelerated the push toward ecommerce, it would have happened in the next five years even without it. Albeit a lot slower.
Not only were customers quick to shop online, but they were also doing it from their phones. In fact, smartphones accounted for 39% of revenue on Black Friday. From November 1st to December 31st, customers spent $74.6 billion on their phones. In short, if you don’t have a responsive mobile site, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of the (pumpkin) pie.
With such big online numbers, Contentful kept our customers running without a hitch. Content Delivery API (CDA) requests were up 87% from last year's Black Friday event, topping out at 669.9 million total requests for the 2020 season. Contentful also recorded 72M GraphQL requests, making November one of the highest monthly GraphQL usage in history. And speaking of November, we delivered over 18.1 billion API calls when all was said and done.
This was not our first rodeo. We’ve been managing Black Friday for our customers since we started. While it’s an immense sales event, we’re experts in helping customers scale. With the right infrastructure and support, Black Friday doesn’t have to be stressful — it can be just another day of doing business.
Infrastructure isn’t just important on Black Friday — it’s part of every company’s entire content strategy.