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The Terror of Black Friday (Cyber Monday?)

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Monday, 21 November 2011
Online, In the Store…Let the Holiday Battles Begin

Tis The Season – Either time passes too quickly or the year is getting shorter. Seems like Black Friday, Cyber Monday 2010 were just here and BAM!!! they’re back. True Halloween is barely based but retailers have missed you crowding the malls, beating each other up for those marvelous Christmas gifts. This year you’re ready because all your mobile device batteries are fully charged and you know how to use these shopping tools.

Hard to believe but the most dreaded period of the year is almost here…Black Friday, Cyber Monday.

If you thought last year was “interesting,” this year is lining up to be a terror. Yes folks have lost jobs…yes homes are underwater…yes things are tight.

Financial institution greed, political hypocrisy only makes the human spirit more resilient.

Yes **** it you’re still standing!

People are sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Manufacturers, online/storefront retailers are determined to move the needle even if global governments can’t/won’t!

Used to be simple.

Retailers – management, employees – would have an uneasy Thanksgiving meal and rush to the store to get the merchandise ready for the mobs.

Women would hit the stores fighting over half a bra.

Men would hit the stores to struggle under the weight of a new huge TV set.

Manufacturers would be readying next year’s plans, budgets, preparing for good/bad news on end-of-year sales.

Unleash the Hounds

This year it’s all about getting close to and getting the consumer faster, better than ever before.

Retailers – online, retail - have fine tuned their websites, loaded up their social media pages, tested/retested every link, limbered up their fingers to make every Tweet count.

Women have already tagged all their favorite coupon sites, store/product pages. They’ve loaded all the hot sales aggregators, store/product sites on their tablets/smartphones so they are ready to deal like the pros.

Fueling Up – Some folks believe in more protein, others more carbs, others lots of liquids/sleep. However you prepare for the biggest shopping day of the year get ready and don’t forget your protective gear.

Men are loading up on energy food to lug out the new tablet, streaming TV box, game system, smartphone for “someone” special.

Yes the coupon/deal stuff is on their tablet, smartphone.

And they’re not afraid to use them when they queue up at checkout.

A lot of the shopping will be done online as folks get SSD upgrades instead of new light computers, iPad/iPhone accessories for people who are special.

Manufacturers/retailers have loaded up last minute specials, offers, deals ready to release on their websites, social media pages for online, in-store sales.

Expect to hear from them early and often because they’ve limbered up their Tweeting fingers.

Fully Invested – Retailers of every shape, size have made big investments in knowing how to reach customers using social media, online, inline communications. They’re doing everything possible – including shaving profits – to ensure they meet your wants/needs this holiday season. Source – BIGresearch

Everywhere Online
What has made it more difficult – and easier – for retailers and manufacturers is that not everyone on the country, globe camps out on Facebook or sits around waiting for a Tweet.

It’s difficult because folks who want to sell stuff to other folks have to be updating, adding stuff, testing messages on multiple sites…everyone just enough different so that the look-feel of the message has to be tuned to be correct on every social media site.

No One One – Some folks will tell you that the only place you need an online social media presence today is with Facebook. Wrong! Great thing is people self-define themselves and the sites/people they want to associate/work with even online. Beauty of social media is that all of the sites can very precisely tell retailers, manufacturers who is out there, what they want, what they’re doing, more. This helps eliminate the barrage of weird messages/offers. Source – Google Ad Planner

Of course that also makes it a little easier on retailers/sellers because people profile themselves by the social media sites they use regularly.

It’s even better than most mass media because if you’re a Hispanic male, 38-45 they know where you hang out. Or you’re Italian 50-65…got your number. African American 18-24…ditto.

Pick a demographic – religion, race, political affiliation, age, sex, you name it – social media sites know where to find you and who do you think they tell (for a price)?


Come on it’s the holiday season and they’re all doing it just to make your searching, spending a little easier.

Trouble is the so-n-so consumer has leveled the playing field.

They’ve got tools of their own to figure out what store – online or brick n mortar – which outlet has the product they want, which products have the best overall reputation (quality, service, etc), where they can find it at the best price. They’re smarter, armed to the teeth.

Tooled Up – Seems like every passing year consumers get better devices, better search/research tools to find the best gifts for friends and family, with the best quality/lowest cost, best overall reputation. At home or the office people spend the days before Black Friday checking all of their sources to make the best buy every time. Source – PowerReviews, e-tailing group

Talk about price fixing!!!

Not that many consumers read many of the industry projections when they head out or online but analysts expect us to spend about $825 this season. That’s about three percent more than last year.

With gas prices still high and the reluctance to face the unruly mobs at the store, ecommerce is projected to take a growing share of the consumer’s holiday budget.

That’s why any retailer worth his/her salt also has a strong web presence.

Online Sales – Ecommerce sales show no signs of slowing down as people shop in-person and online. There are some leading on-line firms that have built a strong following by being open 24x7 to provide product, information, assistance. This is probably why storefront operations have their feet in both camps even though they favor getting you into the store.
eCommerce Plus
The days are long gone when you could throw up a half-way decent website and say you were open for ecommerce business.

Folks today want more, expect more. According to BIGresearch they have a laundry list of must haves.

Don’t have them?

They’re a click away from someone who does.

People who shop/buy online expect to see a final shopping cart total, itemization of in-stock products, value and clear/concise descriptions.

In addition they expect:
- Guaranteed on-time delivery
- This holiday free shipping is “standard”
- Solid merchant reputation
- Free return shipping policy
- Customer product reviews
- Promotions, coupons, specials available
- Knowledgeable customer service reps available
- Shipping deadline calendar

Feet On The Floor
But what is post-Thanksgiving without your smartphone in one pocket, drumstick in the other pocket and tablet clutched in your hand.

Yep you need 'em all because even with GroupOn’s logic-bending IPO, daily-deal sites are losing their panache.

Folks who used the daily deal just bought the special offer and less than 20 percent of them returned according to Uptal Dholakai, Rice U professor.

Sheess no brand loyalty there.

But our wife still likes – heck loves deals.

She and the hordes hitting the stores with their mobile devices humming expect manufacturers, retailers to pony up the offers.

Online Sales – Ecommerce sales show no signs of slowing down as people shop in-person and online. There are some leading on-line firms that have built a strong following by being open 24x7 to provide product, information, assistance. This is probably why storefront operations have their feet in both camps even though they favor getting you into the store. 
They’ve got an arsenal of mobile messages – emails, coupons, discounts, limited time offers – ready to make your smartphone and iPad start vibrating the minute you hit the door.

Yep, IBM found that an iPadder was twice as likely to buy as the user of any other mobile device.

Probably why our wife has loaded all of her tagged locations on our iPad and will be charging it up the night before Thanksgiving.

Double Teaming – Retailers are taking advantage of newer, more advanced communications tools including portable digital signage to attract you to specific products when you’re in the store and email/tweet messages to seek out the specials. A new wrinkle is to flash a semi-personal Tweets across the sign to make the messages even more compelling.
Clothing retailers – and just about everyone with a storefront – are pulling out all the stops this year.

One retailer did some pre-holiday testing of a portable, battery-powered digital sign that also had Tweet capabilities.

They’ve found the live semi-personalized feeds have pushed sales up 25-30 percent compared to POP (plain ol paper) signs.

Hope the wife walks by one of them during her shopping safari.

She’ll come home and swear to gawd that Minority Report was more than a movie.

Not quite yet but…maybe next year.

But it is true that her stores and she aren’t alone out there.

So are the bad guys/gals.

Everyone Wants You – If you suddenly feel as though you’re on the new TV show Person of Interest…you are! Retailers are certainly vying for your attention to make a purchase. At the same time amateur and professional cybercriminals will be hunting overtime to capture your personal and private data. Up-to-date system and security files for all of your devices becomes even more critical this time of year. Image - NYTimes

That’s because there’s a good chance you’re a very trusting soul or very cheap.

If you trust folks won’t whack into your mobile device…surprise!

If you’re cheap and you downloaded a couple of those new free or near-free (buck-99) solutions are you in for a surprise.

They may not be totally worthless or next to worthless.

Translation? Go with a name you can trust especially if you’re one of the really with it folks who are using their mobile device as a wallet.

Of course as Forest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does,” so you just know a bunch of folks will get hooked on the phishing expeditions again this year.

Contrary to what his mama said some folks just don’t work with what they got…or maybe they do!!

But you…you’re different!

You’re better…you’re smarter…you’re ready to have fun and shop till you drop or sprain your thumbs.

Enjoy the Holidays – This year it is even more important for people to get into the holiday spirit, choose wisely but move forward. The new mobile devices, online contacts/content have put the consumer back in control…we think you’re ready!

Jump in and enjoy it.

Make the retailers, manufacturers get you what you want, when you want it, at the right price.

You Da Man…or Woman!!!
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