Black Friday, the Friday following Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year. Many retailers use this time to offer "door-buster" deals - ridiculously low prices on key items that entice eager shoppers to line up outside hours before the store opens. Nielsen has prepared a Top 10 list of common mistakes made by retailers who are trying to play and win in the competitive world of Black Friday.
Mistake #1: Sticking to traditional categories
Who says supermarkets can't sell video games or that electronics stores can't sell soda and snacks? Many smart retailers are breaking free of traditional channel definitions that may limit the merchandise categories where they compete. If you have a cash register, you can sell it.
Mistake #2: Not having a retailing objective
Determine your Black Friday retailing objective(s) in advance. Do your door-buster ads attract new shoppers? Do they generate profits? Do they drive traffic for purchases of non-deal items?
Mistake #3: Not measuring your objectives
If you have measurable objectives, you need to measure them. Was Black Friday profitable for your stores? Did you attract new shoppers who return to shop in the following weeks? Did heavy traffic drive sales of non-deal items?
Mistake #4: Leaving a bad first impression with new shoppers
Black Friday is a great opportunity to attract new shoppers or win back infrequent shoppers. Don't let them have a bad shopping experience. For shoppers new to your stores, many will say either "I should shop here more often" or "I'm never coming here again". Make sure their experience is positive.
Mistake #5: Missing loyalty opportunities
Black Friday presents unique opportunities for retailers with loyalty programs. Rather than just rewarding shoppers willing to camp out overnight, why not offer special pricing to your most loyal customers over the year? Or maybe offering the hottest deals to shoppers spending over $100 on groceries? Or $500 in spending for November?
Mistake #6: Sticking to Friday morning
What's so magical about Friday morning? Rather than focusing on a few precious hours, many retailers now offer door-busters on multiple days. Some retailers choose the morning of Thanksgiving Day while others offer door-busters two weeks before Thanksgiving.
Mistake #7: Not having door-buster merchandise in stock
When a long line of customers is waiting in the cold and dark for your doors to open, you'd better deliver on the promises of your Black Friday ad and web site. If stock is limited for hot door-busters, let shoppers know in advance, or at least while they're waiting in line. Don't let them wait in line for products you don't have.
Mistake #8: No sense of urgency
Shoppers are in a hurry and appreciate retailers who can keep the lines moving quickly. Under-staffed checkouts, associates unfamiliar with ad merchandise, inadequate traffic direction, and late store openings will all lead to angry shoppers. Retailers need all hands on deck.
Mistake #9: Shallow discounts on door-busters
Black Friday is the one day that shoppers will be bombarded with rock-bottom pricing. Shoppers will not be impressed by so-called "door-busters" listed at everyday pricing or modest discounts by any manufacturer willing to buy space in your Black Friday ad. If your ad includes modest discounts, don't call them "door-busters".
Mistake #10: Not scouting the competition
It's more than just monitoring ad prices. Seasoned shoppers will tell you: some retailers are much better at Black Friday than others. Retailers need to have scouts in the field checking out the competition for best practices and talking to shoppers about their experiences. Use these observations to plan for next year starting this December.