Blog Feature

By: Jennifer Devitt on November 30th, 2014

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Has Black Friday lost it's luster? Online shoppers and early sales took it's toll.

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Happy December! Are you ready for snow, cold, Christmas carols, holiday decor, baking, too much food, friends, and family? How about shopping? Are you ready to hit your holiday shopping list hard? If you are like millions of Americans, perhaps you already started, and if you are lucky or really organized you've finished!

2014 brought on the early holiday deals and even earlier shopping. Early reports are in and say that Black Friday numbers were down about 6.4%. Now, this is not to say that people are going to spend less or buy less this holiday season. What early analysis is showing is that due to big chains starting sales as early as Halloween, increased online shopping as well as a mixed economy that Black Friday sales dipped.  My personal experience was a boat load of "early Black Friday" sale invites via email from my favorite stores.  One expert stated, "Every day will be Black Friday, every minute will be Cyber Monday."  So, if that's true, what are retailers to do?

My advice, start planning for next year. If you are a small business or retailer, start making plans to get your e-commerce house in order and do it early. ShopperTrak estimated that in-store sales were down 7 percent but online stores recorded "double-digit, year-on-year increase in sales". This tells me the retailers that were prepared with functioning e-commerce websites saw a tremendous sales boom. Was your business one of those lucky online retailers?

Mobile shopping is also hitting brick and mortar Black Friday sales where it hurts. It has been estimated that mobile traffic accounted for 52.1 percent of Thanksgiving Day traffic, and that overall online sales were up 14.3 percent over 2013. So, what are retailers to do?  Below are a list of suggestions to fit into your budget in 2015.

1. Web presence. If you still do not have a website, really what are you waiting for? With sales numbers as reported, how can you afford not too?

2. E-commerce. So, you have a website but have been avoiding e-commerce. I have heard any reason you can imagine, from "Women don't buy clothes online" to "I don't want to deal with online returns". It is time to take your retail business to e-commerce. Why would you turn away sales from someone outside of your local community or someone in another state? Why would you turn down sales just because your physical brick and mortar are closed? Stop giving your competitors who have e-commerce abilities your potential sales.

3. Mobile. If you have a website, and an e-commerce one is it mobile ready? If not, your business missed out. As stated above mobile traffic accounted for 52.1 percent of Thanksgiving Day traffic.

4. 24/7 Business. If you are a small, family-owned business, or a business that chose to not open on Thanksgiving, there is no reason you had to shut down all sales. Your online store could've been hard at work for you while you spent time with your families. If you had an inventory management system and/or online order management linked to your e-commerce cart, your site could manage item availability while you took a nap. And you could process the next day or after dessert. Even big companies clearly state that orders placed on holidays are processed/shipped on the next business day, but they didn't miss a sale.

So, there are four ways you need to plan to add to your 2015 budget to have increased sales next holiday season. How did you shop this weekend?  Did you venture out Thursday or did you online shop?  If you are an online shopper, did you do more via your mobile device or tablet? I love hearing about people's habits and experiences, so if you're inclined, please share. I have an aversion to shopping in crowds. I used to do it with my Mother, but once I had kids it was a pain to do it with a stroller, etc so I found great pleasure in online shopping early. Now, my teenager begs me to go Black Friday shopping, but just the thought of it has been curled up in the fetal position!