Who is Winning the Digital Shelf Ahead of Black Friday (USA)?

Despite some uncertainty due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Cyber 5 weekend this year is set to be another record-breaker. Edge by Ascential Insights Manager Chris Elliott previews a few high-performing categories heading into the holiday weekend.

Black Friday 2020 online sales are predicted to soar this year. The outbreak of COVID-19 has driven shoppers online with ecommerce sales predicted to grow by 31% in 2020 - up from a 22% forecast prior to the pandemic (Source: Edge Retail Insight). According to one recent report, online sales during the key five Black Friday shopping days (Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday) are predicted to rise 35.8% YoY.*

However, this growth comes against a backdrop of uncertainty, as many shoppers have felt the economic pain wrought by the global pandemic and feel less confident when purchasing. This should have a tangible impact on individual shopper spending this year, with Black Friday budgets falling to an estimated $236 from $267 last year.** It has never been more imperative for manufacturers to ensure that listings are optimised to reassure shoppers and boost conversion rates.

Brands looking to optimise their online assortments should start with user-generated content. 75% of shoppers use reviews to evaluate products while shopper engagement with reviews drives a 138% boost in conversion rates. In other words, user-generated content is critical to increasing shopper confidence; 78% of shoppers trust reviews more than recommendations from family and friends.*** Reviews, therefore, will be the most important factor in converting clicks into sales.

Using our proprietary analytics tools and data, we’ll analyse reviews, ratings, and content before and during the Cyber 5 weekend across several high-value categories, and highlight  the winners and losers this holiday weekend.

Edge by Ascental has analysed user-generated content across two popular Black Friday categories to see who is best positioned to win the shopping holiday this year.

Which TV brand’s ratings + reviews signal success this year?

Televisions are always big business on Black Friday, and Sharp has work to do to perform well this week. Of the brands analyzed, it had the lowest average reviews on both Amazon and Walmart by a wide margin.

At the top of the charts the results are more mixed - Sony had the greatest average rating on Amazon, finishing marginally ahead of TCL, but on Walmart LG led the way ahead of Vizio. Although LG placed fourth on Amazon, the top four finished neck-and-neck, with the margin between fourth-place LG and first-place Sony just 0.04 stars.


A listing’s first rating provides an anchor for all subsequent ratings and it's critical to conversion and traffic. 21 is the globally recognised optimal number of reviews and is a good target for higher-priced, low repeat purchase items.

Sony had the greatest percentage of range with over 21 reviews at 97.1%, comfortably more than Vizo and Samsung in second and third place. However, it was TCL and VIzio that had the greatest average number of reviews per listing at 5156 and 3652 respectively, more than four times that of the next nearest manufacturer. 

Sharp again trailed with only 62.5% of listings having more than 21 reviews and an average number of reviews per listing of only 51, and more shoppers rely on the total number of reviews versus over overall rating to make a purchase decision.*** In order to better compete with its rivals, Sharp must address its review content, and specifically boost the number of reviews across its catalogue.

Which hair care brands are a cut above their competition?

While COVID-19 restrictions may have restricted movement for many people across the world, sales of Personal Care Appliances are still predicted to grow considerably. Hair Styling Appliances such as Hair Dryers and Curling Wands have been promoted prominently over the last few years on Black Friday and we expect more of the same this year.

Braun and Remington were best placed to win the digital shelf as Braun had the highest average review on Walmart and Remington had the highest on Target, and both performed well on the retailer they didn’t win as well. 

InfinitiPro had the lowest average review on Target but was fourth on Walmart while Panasonic was eighth on Walmart but fourth on Target. Revlon was a poor performer across the board, as it had the third-lowest score on Target and the second-lowest score on Walmart.


However, Revlon did have the greatest average number of reviews at over 300, although it seems most of these reviews were concentrated across relatively few products - nearly 25% of its range had fewer than 21 reviews. Babyliss was the worst performer here with only 37% of its range exceeding 20 reviews per listing.

More than 95% of Braun’s range had at least 21 reviews, ahead of Remington and Wahl. However, there is a significant dropoff after these top three. In addition, products with the lowest number of reviews were more likely to be found on the Walmart website rather than Target. This is where manufacturers should be looking to bolster their review content.

Which DIY brands have nailed their PDP content?

If Reviews are the most important driver of conversion rates, Content is a close second. Ecommerce shoppers rely on clear product content to replace picking up the product in-store and solid content can make products more visible to shoppers on the digital shelf. One trend caused by COVID-19 restrictions has been the significant increase of sales in the Power Tools category, as many consumers have begun DIY/Home Improvement projects as they spend more time at home.  

Manufacturers must therefore ensure that their product content is optimised across the board. Product titles should include key information such as brand name and key product information - this will not only boost shopper confidence, but also give the product the best chance to move up search rankings for widely used terms.

The Makita 4.9A ⅜ inch Drill on Amazon is just one of many examples where the brand name has been omitted. The Ingersoll Rand Impact Wrench below, not only left out the brand name but also omitted the product type from the listing title. Furthermore, the product had no reviews and the listing’s first image was blurry. This is clearly a listing that Ingersoll Rand needs to address to be successful online.



Amazon US and Walmart website - 23 November 2020

Manufacturers should also ensure that there is comprehensive and accurate product imagery and video on its listings, since these measures best replicate the in-store experience and boost confidence to potential buyers.

The Excalibur Tilting Head Scroll Saw was positioned well on the Home Depot site with nine product images and two videos. However, on Lowe’s, ten of the eleven images were of a Bostitch Nail Gun. This certainly is impacting sales, as shoppers will be confused over what they are purchasing. Excalibur needs to investigate this issue with Lowe’s and fix this listing if it wants to compete on Lowe’s platform. 

Manufacturers must ensure they are providing comprehensive levels of product imagery and videos especially when the content already exists elsewhere. With this year's Black Friday set to smash all sales records despite shoppers’ constricted budgets, all manufacturers should be making last-minute checks for issues like thes. By improving and optimizing user- and brand-generated content, they can win the digital shelf and Black Friday 2020.

If you’d like to connect with one of our experts to discuss how you can optimise your holiday planning, fill out the form below.



*Source: eMarketer
**Source: Simon-Kucher and Partners
***Source: Bazaarvoice


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