The overwhelming excitement surrounding Black Friday and Thanksgiving, 2014 ends and it is time for brick-and-mortar retailers to take a look backwards in tranquility. The last blog post attempted to capture general sentiment of the industry, concerning the impact it is expecting during the session of shopping spree. Brands and analysts, almost unanimously, expressed their optimism about improved financial performance this year, compared to 2013. The facts of Black Friday and Thanksgiving sales, however, are:
- Customer spending on Black Friday and Thanksgiving sales declined 11% than that of the last year’s (spending in 2013 was $57.4 billion and in 2014 it is $50.9 billion)
- Attractive discounts and offers weren’t enough to draw customers and store traffic lacked presence of at least 6 million customers
- Spending amount per customer has reduced significantly (the amount, this year, is $380.95, which is 6.4% lesser than 2013)
- Customers are finding promotional offers less enticing
- Footfalls have reduced and showrooming has risen only to make situations worse for brick-and-mortar retailers
- Retailers are not quite optimistic about any miraculous turn in the chain of events and expecting that Cyber Monday sales would follow the same trend
Retailers, apparently, left no stones unturned to make beginning of the holiday sales a massive success. Starting from aggressive discount strategy, keeping stores open for longer hours to promoting brand awareness – their efforts contained almost everything necessary for better customer engagement. Yet, the widely appreciated formula of getting back in black didn’t really work out for them.
It is interesting to witness that failure to achieve the projected sales target for two consecutive years hasn’t unfazed brick-and-mortar retailers and store owners entirely. Apparently, they are habituating themselves with the idea that success in this holiday season is not about achieving targets on Black Friday and Thanksgiving or Cyber Monday. They are of the opinion that success should be measured as per the brand/store’s performance throughout the period and not just a day or two. Customers are more tech savvy and aware these days. They know that it is deals are not to end soon and they don’t hurry. Yet, using these realizations as a defense against falling short of expectation will not cover up the limitations that majority of the brick-and-mortar stores are still trying to shore up pretty carefully. The analytics are suggesting certain facts that might encourage retailers, combating hard to maintain their niche against ecommerce counterparts.
- Customers are relying on smartphones than ever before while doing in-store shopping or comparing before making the final purchase [immense possibility of mobile engagement]
- iOS (21.9%)has been preferred over Android (only 5.8%) [Mobile operating system]
- Sales generated from mobile has increased up to 28.21% on Black Friday, 2014 compared to previous year and mobile traffic is also up, amounting to 25.1% [Customers’ inclination towards mobile usage]
In the last blog post, we specified threefold key insight, essential for brick-and-mortar retailers to survive the ecommerce onslaught,
- Customer engagement
- In-store customer empowerment
- Quality customer service in accordance with following up the complaint
Strategies adopted by retailers on this Black Friday and Thanksgiving emphasized the traditional lure-the-customer model. However, the modern situation demands more. Eye-catching offers and superb discounts are not enough to convince technologically advanced customer base. Instead, the efforts to engage should involve tech inclination. In-store customer empowerment is possible if the necessary details are delivered to customers real-time and in comprehendible manner. In either case, mobile engagement makes things easier for retailers in attaining the desired objective. Most brands and storeowners are still attempting for customers engagement without paying adequate attention to mobile technology. While having a fully automated retail system empowers them with customer follow up, sending regular reminders and understanding purchasing behavior, on the other hand, customer empowerment (in-store) allows them to deliver instant notification, guiding customers in-store, allowing them to find their desired product quickly and check out instantly.
The overall retail analytics, post Black Friday and Thanksgiving season 2014, delivers a clear message to brick-and-mortar retailers that it is either opting for introducing mobile intelligence to retail or risking their very existence. The scope for success is roaring but retailers should have the ear to listen and heart to follow it.