The Black Friday traditional holiday shopping kick-off highlighted a number of interesting outcomes and reactions from both my personal experience and the general industry experience. This is the time of the year when I make a point of exploring the retail market for tendencies that I believe should be leading and pushing the industry. This experience quite frankly has been based on my own personal shopping experiences during the Black Friday festivities. For my personal experience with Black Friday there have always been two important factors; the social aspect and the gift purchase aspect. Both of these aspects combined for me to deliver a positive experience and opportunity to observe and identify areas for shopping and purchase improvements.
This season was different for me because for the first time in many years my family and I did not partake in these festivities on Thanksgiving night. This is the first year that we took full advantage of the opportunities available over the Internet, and the interesting thing from my perspective is that this change in practice was taken on by many others as well. This year, while the brick-and-mortar sales dropped by 10% over the Black Friday weekend, the overall sales did slightly increase and this was all due to the dramatic increase in on-line sales. As I did not participate in the brick-and-mortar experience this year I cannot say whether the shopping crowds were similar to past years, but the results of the channels driving sales showed a dramatic increase in mobile sales which leads me to believe that the size of the crowds may have remained stable and the sales shifted to the mobile channels as a result of consumer shopping changes to check prices in brick and mortar stores to prices available online.
I see two actions that are reacting to and supporting each other;
- The brick-and-mortar shopping practices of consumers along with the willingness of retail sales clerks to support the expansion of the shopping experience has reached a limit. This is displayed by the number of retailers that ‘opted out’ of the Thanksgiving night shopping support.
- The online shopping capabilities and comfort of consumers in shopping online has reached a critical mass and this has given consumers options in making their purchases allowing them to ‘opt out’ of the brick-and-mortar experience.
Along with the above key factors, I would also highlight Amazon and especially Amazon Prime as a key contributing factor to the increase in online sales. The combination of comfort in online purchasing and the ease provided by one-click shopping and free two day delivery on any order may have been a key contributing factor to this shift in retail channel purchases.
And now for the audience participation portion of the show…
ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors. How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience? Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes. In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas. How can you support these continuously changing requirements?