I’ve seen a lot of articles come out over the past few weeks in regards to the state of Black Friday and its online counterpart, Cyber Monday. Some retailers (i.e. Target, JC Penney, Macy’s, and Kohl’s) have decided to open on Thanksgiving Day to compete with online competitors like Amazon that increasingly dominate the holiday. And according to a survey from Accenture, Black Friday promises to be more digital than last year with fewer shoppers hitting the stores. Burt P. Flickinger, managing director at SRG Insight, a retail consulting firm, told USA Today, “Black Friday has reached unplanned obsolescence, and (on) Black Saturday and Sunday the stores get more and more deserted. By moving sales to Thursday, Black Friday loses its retail relevance.” It seems these two infamous, hectic and inconvenient shopping days are dying (or at least blurring amongst other viable holiday shopping days.) It won’t be long now until the shopping season starts kicking off on the Monday before Thanksgiving or even, earlier!
These reports got me thinking about why these days became so popular in the first place. What I realized is it’s because retail marketers dictated it to be that way. Pre-internet, the only way to buy something was to go to a store near you. The store – literally – held the keys to your shopping needs. Black Friday was a way for the store to create an occasion for you to shop. The Black Friday shopping experience, while often thrilling, is never really pleasant. Who wants to wait in line on an (often cold) November morning? Cyber Monday got rid of the need for the line, but it still reflected this view that the store could manipulate your shopping behavior. After all, it’s not exactly convenient for shoppers to be refreshing ecommerce sites for deals while they are supposed to be working on Cyber Monday.
For those reasons alone, I will be happy to see the days go.
The new retail environment is all about what the customer wants, not what the retailer wants. It is the “age of the customer” where customers have complete visibility into prices, believe what other customer say about a product not what marketers want them to believe, and can air any grievance – small or large – to an audience of millions. In every other aspect of day-to-day operations, customers are taking control– why should holiday shopping be any different? Customers have needs – to buy gifts – which retailers compete to satisfy. Smart retailers are beginning to figure out lining up on the cold in order to get that gift is not a “need.” It is manipulation, and consumers don’t have to fall for it anymore.
This holiday season we encourage retailers to take a step back and focus on what customer really want. They want you to help them buy the right gifts for the right prices. They want you to create a personalized, relevant and convenient experience for them. They want you to making shopping easier by curating what products to buy because you know their tastes so well. They want to be given prices / offers they think are fair. This means breaking free of the confines of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and promotions by sending tailored offers that inspire gift-buying no matter the day of the week.
Learn as much as you can about your customers’ shopping behaviors, tailor experiences accordingly, and not only will you gain more shoppers during the season, but you are more likely to garner repeat visitors when the holidays are over. Isn’t that supposed to be what good retailing is about in the first place?