Initially an American tradition, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving where families finish a hearty dinner and head out in order to grab great holiday shopping bargains. This event got its name because of the phenomenal sales and deals that created widespread chaos and traffic jams. Traditionally, Black Friday saw crowds lining up outside brick-and-mortar stores, early in the morning or even camping overnight to get the best deals possible.

Over the years, Black Friday has also become a milestone event for online commerce as shoppers have quit spending the day after Thanksgiving, clawing through massive crowds in search of the best deals. Instead, shoppers are now looking at online commerce websites like Amazon as a less chaotic and easier alternative.

Almost $3 billion dollars were spent solely on online shopping during Black Friday in the US last year.

Here are some interesting trends that the US and other countries globally have seen this year along with the implications and impact on India.

Faster Payments and Safer Data – Wallets and NFC

Black Friday, brings in great opportunities for retailers but also burdens them with certain challenges. Retailers need to manage surging crowds while delivering exceptional in-store experiences and tackling frauds and security threats. Crowded malls and rushed shopping makes people vulnerable to credit card and identity theft. The existence of digital wallets has combated theft and simplified finances, making a remarkable impact this year. For customers, digital wallets and mobile payments can efficiently replace carrying around a bulky physical wallet. Forgetting your money, credit card, or ID at home is no longer a concern. And, unlike your wallet, you probably never leave home without your phone. The existence of wallets like Apple Pay, Android Pay and the recently launched Amazon Pay are paving the way for a more secure and simple checkout.

This Black Friday, mobile users in the US showed more inclination towards using wallets or payment apps while shopping. 22% shoppers are expected to make in-store purchases via mobile wallets.

Alternate payment methods like NFC have been the rage for a while now owing to the unmanageable crowds that flock the checkout counters. Retailers have started incorporating a scan and go payment method as it enables shoppers to simply scan items with their smartphones, checkout in-app and walk out of the store.

Cryptocurrency as a mode of payment

Cryptocurrency has witnessed significant growth this year. With more people investing in Bitcoin, the user base is growing and the payment experience is becoming better. This paved the way for Bitcoin Black Friday, a one-day event and a platform that brings together bitcoin merchants and bitcoin users. Merchants list their bitcoin-exclusive deals, and users of cryptocurrency can easily buy the deals, at a single place. This trend has been around since 2014 and is now in its fifth successful iteration. Bitcoin Black Friday is often cited as one of the year’s busiest periods in terms of bitcoin transactions.

Despite this revolutionizing trend, experts in the bitcoin community have come to a realization that this is a niche outside of the mainstream and that bitcoin won’t be a currency used popularly for consumer transactions. There is still a long way to go until mainstream consumers start using it for online shopping.

Closer home

The last couple of years have seen that the influence of Black Friday has crossed the oceans and reached India, thanks to growing e-commerce platforms and an internet savvy youth population.

Black Friday as an event is still relatively less popular in India as opposed to other big festive shopping periods such as Diwali and is very much restricted to e-commerce sales. Amazon, in particular, promoted the event through its Global Store in this year.

Indian e-commerce stores like Nykaa, Zivame, MakeMyTrip, and BookMyShow have adapted this trend and hosted Black Friday sales of their own, to cater to a globally aware population.

Black Friday consumers who are looking for deals in India typically show more interest in gadgets and electronics making up almost 50% of sales. Fashion Brands come in a close second.

The Indian market seems to be warming up to Black Friday as a popular milestone event with more online retailers grabbing this opportunity to push more sales. In the years to come, we can definitely expect more participation from consumers and retailers alike, with consumers expecting big sales from Indian online retailers and retailers trying to keep up with their international counterparts.