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While there was much media buzz on the year’s biggest shopping season, there is so much noise that consumers have difficulty focusing on where the best deals are. Of course, preparation is a must for that seasonal shopping spree – but are the deals really a bargain? Why shop in a brick-n-mortar store when you can shop online? Where is it all going? And is your eCommerce store best positioned to shine within the insanity of retail?
It is reported to be a record Black Friday, Forbes’ numbers are $7.2B USD in Online sales. A 14% increase from 2018. Thanksgiving Day (Thursday) was up as well to $4.4B USD in the USA. Globally Black Friday is projected to hit over $20B USD. All this with 56% of the online orders using a smartphone, up from 35% in 2018. Cyber Monday is expected to follow the same trend.
Because this is the first of the two days, a lot of online eCommerce stores already join in on the day to get ahead and compete with the retail stores. It is a battle for your cash, and the first one to hit your pocketbook for the biggest ticket items wins. But does this leave you with a meager offering for Cyber Monday? If shopkeepers are astute, then they would have advertised in their Black Friday advertisement that certain items will be on offer exclusively on Monday.
Not only this differentiates brick-n-mortar from online offerings, but it also spreads the brand’s appeal over a longer event period, making people coming back and tell their friends. If online shopkeepers blow out their deals and empty their stocks on or before Black Friday, the opportunity is missed for Cyber Monday.
Online Shopkeepers have an opportunity over retailers on the day as retail wind down their Black Friday events, and online can do another boost of sales that Monday. If well-planned sales events are executed, then additional revenue can be captured with cross-sale promotions to fill up those baskets ready for checkout. If this is done well, your ability to come up on top of the largest sale event in the year will show up in your revenue stream.
Is Online shopping hurting retail stores? They have in the past changed the consumer purchasing behaviors, offering better return policies and manage their inventories to not oversell. The loss-leaders that retail uses to bring in consumers into their stores cannot be replaced, neither the experience of fighting for your big TV offer. However, retail is moving the goal post by starting their Black Friday start times earlier, getting ahead of Online Shopkeepers trying to take mindshare on a Friday. The battle between the channels is clear – going after consumer’s wallets and getting there first.
Battle between Channels
While retailers will have the physical advantage, online tools are giving Shopkeepers additional tools to merchandise their products and provide a better experience for the consumer. AI (Artificial Intelligence), AR (Augmented reality), 3-D visualization are technological implementations that assist consumers chose and purchase their goods. In Retail, you have little opportunity in the tech-space to enhance the experience, making it increasingly difficult for retailers to compete. Only LED technologies have assisted the retail space in projecting/advertising for visual aids in-store. Holographic advertisement as seen in various Hollywood pictures maybe the future tech of retail. But for now, retail is limited in various ways on what it can do to further its appeal. Is retail doomed? Some say that the retail apocalypse is happening – high streets are suffering, shopping malls in certain areas as well.
Price is still King
Regardless of the channel, consumers flock for the item they desire at the best price. The retail model which is disadvantaged by the various cost of doing business vs. an online store which can be just a warehouse and a website is where the foundation of mail-order began its penetration. In the 1990s, large printed magazines promoted all the best deals where you phoned in with your credit card to get the best deals, that method being replaced by an eCommerce store for efficiency. While the evolution of retail took centuries to evolve, eCommerce has done so in 3 decades. The only way retail will regain its advantage is if Internet cost is “taxed” to even the playing field.
Holiday shopping 2019
Hopefully, you were not visiting that “store”, or worse yet, owned “that eCommerce store” that could not get its act together. As seen on a few major manufacturers and online stores where critical mistakes in the execution of their websites made it difficult to have customer satisfaction, all the while transacting products due to high demand hitting their servers. Some eCommerce stores thought a redirect would be a good idea forgetting that browsers have "redirect protection", increasing the bounce rate, and frustrating consumers. If your server can’t handle the loads/requests, their frustrations are high, your brand suffers. And with social media, it cuts two ways – everyone hears about your great deals, and when they come to get them, you disappoint them.
It is hard to say if people really save money, or get exactly what they planned for in 2019, but one thing for sure, a strong economy and GDP growth always helps every family in seeing positive results after the shopping spree. Retail is still disrupted from Online shops, there is no way around it – but the reliability of a corner store to get your basics is still comforting for some.