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Friday, Nov. 28, 2008 at 2:16 am

Black Friday or Bleak Friday?

By Howard Kaplan
November 28th, 2008
Amazon's Black Friday deals

Well sports fans, here we go.  Black Friday.  Soon, Cyber Monday.  (Forgive me for the brief digression, but did you know neither Black Friday nor Cyber Monday typically deliver results, in the form of conversions, er, sales, mainly just delivering traffic :(   Unsurprisingly, retail numbers thus far have been bleak, to say the least.

Retailers are hopeful however, and doing everything they can to jumpstart the economy and try to turn a profit this holiday season.  Amazon got my attention with their personalized email, touting deals exclusively for me, but really failed to deliver on the promise.  Uber-disappointing when you consider how much insight they have into my buying process, not to mention my personal as well as holiday gift time purchase history.  Yes, even the market leaders sometimes miss opportunities. Perhaps they need some help harvesting the insight from their customers’ past purchase behavior?  [*Update* CNBC documents Amazon's strategy.]

Naturally, many retailers are using price cuts to try and attract attention.  Even brands who rarely do so, like Apple for instance, give kickbacks to customers this weekend.  Who says Politicians should be the only ones to prosper?!  [Don't say we're not in the giving back mood either- deal hunters should stop by Gizmodo for a rundown of all the best deals this weekend.  *Update* NY Times has a good rundown too.]

Not every retailer is up to the same old tricks though.  Sears, through a partnership with Yahoo is trying to capture the holiday spirit, and capitalize on the web sense of community to spur sales.  Of course, they promise exclusive deals as part of the promotion ;) .

If history is any indicator, each of these efforts will result in traffic spikes (not only on websites but highways and mall parking lots as well!) of highly motivated would-be customers. These potential prospects certainly have a list of products in mind, or if they’re earlier on in the buying process, an idea of what type of product they’re shopping for.  Everyone hates to be sold, but loves to buy. Buying is about the experience, above and beyond the “right price”.  What will you do to convert those could-be customers into delighted customers?

Plato said, “necessity is the mother of invention.”  If Plato were faced with a marketing budget coming under fire to pare costs and brace for a long dark winter, I respectfully suggest he’d get focused on “inventing” some ideas around Optimization.  Your traffic is coming to your website for a reason, and if your conversion rate is in the single digits, perhaps it’s time to consider what your audience is telling you, and do something about it.  After all, you won’t have the same luxuries to keep spending $$ on driving an overabundance of traffic.  Perhaps now is the time to capitalize on opportunity: the web is your home to listen not to what they say, but rather to what they do! We’re always here to help you listen, and turn your audience feedback into actionable (and continuous) website improvements. 

Tomorrow we’ll start to see a harbinger of things to come.  Will Santa’s little elves be out in full force?  Most definitely.  But the larger question we want answered is, will the experience be enough to overcome the last stage of the buying process- reevaluation. So, in the name of research, go out and enjoy the deals… but let us know about the experience.

Do you see more sites this weekend who deliver on their promises, or are your expectations continuing to outdistance the experience they provide?  We want to know!  Our audience does too, so please sound off in the comments.

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Comments (5)

  1. You are so right!

    “Buying is about the experience, above and beyond the “right price”.

  2. I refuse to go shopping anywhere on this day because of having to stand in line for hours!

  3. I too hate the long lines at the checkout.

  4. You wont catch me shopping on bleak friday, ever! That’s a great day to stay home and not even go into town.

  5. Staying home and not even going to try and get out there to fight against that madness. No sir, not for me this year.

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