Black Friday 2014 Is Like A Prom For eCommerce Merchandising
Long are my days of prom, but every year, I feel like attending it every time I get hooked for a session of curious and rather intensive shopping on this very exciting eCommerce sales day (in the US). Except, I do not shop for anything I want or need, but hunt for eCommerce merchandising ideas, identifying top runner ups on this red (or black carpet). This time was no exception.
So far, this season the industry split into 4 camps in how eCommerce sites outfitted their home pages with time-based offers: (1) loud and in your face, (2) subtle and classy, (3) minimalistic and wearing the same dress for all holidays of the 2014 season and (4) those, who are completely not showing up.
Let’s take a closer look.
1. Those who scream on top of the roof and truly kill you with loud, persistent offers (which, by the way work, I almost bought a Dyson on Macys). It truly was a buffet with no consequences if you decide to go all the way. Looks too red, too busy, too cheesy? Maybe, but even I went, browsed for the Dyson and almost bought! I do not need a Dyson, I have hardwood floors, no pets, no kids, no messy husbands. I just thought maybe it would be nice to finally have a good vacuum. I could even do my car…I was thinking…till, I had to refocus on my “professional” nature of Black Friday browsing vs. personal shopping. Wait, I thought to myself. I have no fur, no clutter or dust, why do I wish for a Dyson? I knew the why. Just because! Just because it was in front of me and it was a deal hard to pass for $299 when regularly it is $600!
By the way, note that Dyson offer – which I wanted (Macy somehow knew about it already when I landed. My cookie carried some data telling Macy that I ogled this product on Amazon.com prior, very clever way to get me from Amazon’s cart, dear Macy’s, (if you had your Dyson in stock).
It appears the technology that the site is ran on for the front end does not sync with the inventory management system (it is very likely that a retailer like Macys does not even have it).
For the new eCommerce sites, that do sync their backend eCommerce systems with front end personalization tech, you always meet the needs of the qualified shopper like me who looked and came with Dyson wishes on her mind. You simply sell it and never have an out-stock problem, even if you run your site on WordPress/Woo Commerce plugins.
For the rest of the eCommerce industry, there is still a pain of old legacy systems and new tech to sync up. Imagine how many Yulias’ came with similar wishes that were led to product pages, but not granted due to the platforms glitches. Oh well, no Dyson for me.
JackThreads.com, a much younger online retailer that targets young stylish men, went out with a flair too. Who said that men do not like shopping? Unless, they do it on JackThreads.com or mobile. This site’s growing revenues and popularity is a slap in the face to all who say men hate shopping.
Wayfair.com was determined to pick a number of suitors for sure, the merchandising was very detailed, flawless to a T.
Home Depot did make itself super enticing, boldly, but with some branded design reserve.
2. Those who took a subtle road of dressing up their home pages, up to the occasion, yet with a more demure design
This was the case with Sephora and Amazon, that adorned themselves with bows, messaging and very proper offers.
Adore.me did a good job with a countdown ticker to add a sense of urgency for their offers. Note, how the gift cards CTA stands out as red on its own, suggesting to be clicked against the white background on the left.
Ahalife, a marketplace for unique gifts and products also dressed up its pages with seasonal, diverse gift-giving spirit.
Teavana, a branded eCommerce site made a clean, but festive online appearance on this holiday. No surprise here, given its deep offline roots.
Bonobos, put a simple tuxedo and allowed its shoppers to chill and shop Black Friday weekend vs. one day only. What a gentleman!
Nasty Gal also put on a black dress and kept it simple and sassy with copy – “You are in the black.”
Nike.com seemed to carpool with both above, as it was wearing a similar black suit theme.
3. Those who acknowledge the holidays, dressed up subtly (with a touch of lipstick) yet give no tribute to the Black Friday
Apple.com leads this trend of course. To cheer the holidays it put red lipstick on its home page logo, offline employees as T-shirts in the stores and only gave a nudge to iWatch if you look closely. It is the only piece of jewelry if you will, that is centerpiece. They also put emphasis on giving back versus shopping selfishly or mindlessly. Note the value proposition messaging that suggests you buy with a purpose.
Toms Shoes followed the same suit, going with just a slight touch in microcopy, with all else pretty toned down. If it were not for a browser plugin for the site deals, I would not have found anything for the Black Friday.
Not surprisingly, another eCommerce brand site, Warby Parker also used just a touch of home page update with snowflakes. Nothing to discount, nothing to push impulse buys with? Could be either.
Its competitor, Ditto, simply wrapped a shawl of a popup message around its home page with a holiday cheer message.
4. Those who ignore the holidays completely, because they can (the product or service is so good, it is consumed throughout and giving discounts can taint a brand) or because they are either amateur, clueless or closed for business.
GoPro completely went off the grid and stayed as is on Black Friday 2014.
So did Patagonia. Though, we expected that from them, based on their well known – Do Not Buy Our Jackets stunt last holiday season that surged the sales anyways (reverse psychology does work). Comparing with GoPro – also similar patterns, similar designs.
One Kings Lane slightly mentioned the holidays in the microcopy, yet made me feel that all staff is on vacation.
So, what’s the verdict if I were a Black Friday fashion police?
If you are selling online, do use the power of the holiday to offer a deal or a reason to say yes to your brand if I am already considering. You will sell more even to the people who already love your brand.
Acknowledge this unique cultural phenomenon, modify your style per the holiday traditions, and you will open more wallets too.
And by all means, do not just ignore it.
If my professional opinion is just an opinion, take Google data into consideration. Orders, transactions, not just traffic rise on average by 170%. This is money left on the table if not used (showed up) for any eCommerce site on this day.
What about me with no Dyson? No worries, the universe did send me the right deals anyways.
I did end up making a buy on Black Friday very shortly after this exercise. Yet, my find or wish was super custom. I had eyes and attention only for the things I could hardly ever get for the same price on any other given day. Over the years, I have learnt as a shopper and as an industry insider in the US that you can get surprising bargains for the stuff you do want during this holiday craze. And, you can be pleasantly suprised. I got a class on investing into stocks and options for only $20 which I have being eyeing for a few weeks at the original price of $699. It was a pretty good bargain buy for me.
Cyber Monday is going to offer more. And the rest of the holiday season 2014 will display plenty of merch ideas to harvest from for the next revenue year of 2015 for eCommerce entrepreneurs and startups.