Black Friday 2023: Contentful scales for the enterprise

Now the dust has settled on the Black Friday shopping bonanza, we’re sharing some key stats about delivery requests and API calls from this year’s event.
December 1, 2023


Black Friday and Cyber Monday represent the biggest shopping events of the year for many of our customers. These days are important to our customers, which means they are also important to Contentful. At these pivotal moments, the speed of the digital team and stability of the storefront are just as vital as the deals being offered. 

As Ravi Raparla, Vice President of Digital Products at Saadia Group, put it in a recent case study:

“Around Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other big shopping events, we see brands wanting to change content more regularly — even daily,” he said. “With composable content, they have the flexibility to do so whether it's pricing, a promo banner on the homepage, or anything in between.”

According to Salesforce, which shared data on transactions for 1.5 billion consumers, Black Friday 2023 generated $16.4 billion in the U.S. (an increase of 9% from 2022) and $70.9 billion globally (up 8% year-on-year). Moreover, a whopping 79% of all shopping traffic — both buying and browsing — took place on mobile devices. Full report here.

Now that the dust has settled, we’d like to share some of our own statistics from this year’s event. Drumroll, please..! We supported 3.6 billion total delivery requests in a single day on November 24, an increase of 38% on the previous year, and a record-breaking 90 billion API calls for the month of November. 

We supported 3.6 billion total delivery requests in a single day on November 24, an increase of 38% on the previous year, and a record-breaking 90 billion API calls for the month of November.

A platform that delivers momentum

As more and more customers adopt and deepen their investments in Contentful, our platform continues to scale to meet this growing demand. But while the sheer volume of API calls is impressive, availability and speed is paramount — and Contentful excels at all three. 

Internal data shows that our delivery infrastructure surpassed our SLA commitments of 99.99% uptime for Black Friday. Equally significant is how we maintained content delivery API response times during this peak volume event.

What do these accomplishments mean? Our platform is delivering momentum for our customers in big ways! Teams have confidence that Contentful won’t fail them at critical business moments. They can make quick changes to their content that reflect real-time market activity, without fear that changes could crash the content delivery process.

Moreover, Contentful stores and manages content for nearly 30% of the Fortune 500 companies. They trust us to power their digital experiences, connecting their customers with their products and servers across multiple channels. Those hard-working digital teams can also relax and enjoy the holidays this year, knowing that their campaigns are delivered with maximum efficiency and effectiveness. 

Here’s Daniel Graupensperger, Associate Director of Product Management at Ruggable, describing their Black Friday experience last year: 

“With Contentful, Black Friday was painless — there was no stress and nothing broke,” he told us. “It was quite fantastic, actually. We could breathe a sigh of relief and actually enjoy the holiday weekend.”

Digging into the numbers

Looking at the tens of billions of API calls that Contentful served last month, we saw a definitive peak in activity on Black Friday, but also a persistent increase in activity throughout November. 

On Black Friday itself, we supported 3.6 billion total delivery requests, which was an all-time high for the company. Compared to the peak last year, which was 2.6 billion, we’re looking at a 38% increase year-on-year. 

In my opinion, this data point has to be considered in the broader context of how much dynamic content Contentful processes at speeds and volumes at the edge. Of the total delivery requests, the proportion that were GraphQL API requests hit a new record on this day too, cementing itself as the fastest-growing Contentful API.

And then there’s the other blockbuster number, which is 90 billion total API calls for the entire month of November 2023. Compared against November 2022, where API calls amounted to more than 66 billion, there is a year-on-year increase of 36%. Again, another record high.

Black Friday trends in 2023

What else happened during the long weekend? According to a news release by Mastercard SpendingPulse, there were some discernible trends to Black Friday this year. Based on their own data analysis (separate to the metrics offered by Salesforce), they identified the following behaviors:

  • Staying at home for sports: Ecommerce sales had a strong showing, growing 8.5% year-on-year as consumers avoided the crowds and shopped for deals online. Another factor was that several U.S. sporting events aired on Friday, making online shopping an easier option for game-day viewers to browse for bargains wherever they might be watching. Meanwhile, in-store sales showed only a slight increase from 1.1% compared to last year.

  • Deals quicker off the starting block: One trend from previous years quickly becoming the norm is that retailers are launching their Black Friday specials earlier in the month, allowing consumers plenty of time to search for promotions and scope out the best deals.

  • Shopping for Santa: According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, consumers are still taking the opportunity to stock up on holiday gifts, with jewelry and apparel being the top choices of the day. Sales in furniture and furnishings, as well as department stores, continued to trail behind other sectors compared to last year.

  • Friends and family dining out: It wasn’t just about shopping on the day. The restaurant sector also showed a healthy boost as friends and families gathered for shared meals to celebrate the holidays. 

Focus on what’s important for your business

The Contentful success story goes from strength to strength, offering a set of compelling attributes that brands like Saadia Group, Rapha, ASICS, The ALDO Group, Shiseido, and Ruggable expect — and need — from enterprise-ready technology. 

It is incredibly encouraging to see these numbers, which is proof that Contentful users are free to focus on what’s most important for their business. These milestones are a testament to our ability to consistently deliver world-class experiences to our customers, enabling them to deliver great digital experiences to their customers.

Circling back to Ravi Paparla at Saadia group, reflecting on the success of one of their campaigns: “Fashion to Figure’s first Black Friday with Contentful was flawless,” he said. “We scheduled promotions ahead of time and on the day of, they were delivered with speed. The collaboration to get this done was also seamless.”

Last but definitely not least, there is the flexibility that the Contentful Marketplace provides, with apps and integrations that extend the capabilities of our content platform and resolve customer pain points. 

Looking to the future, we plan to continue breaking records as we roll out new products, features, and innovations on the roadmap. We’re excited for our customers and partners to join us on this journey.

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