With all the bad Black Friday press the title of this blog may seem confusing. It is true that in the last few years retailers have reported a drop in Black Friday traffic and surveys recently conducted indicate that this year will be no different. Shoppers have felt overwhelmed by the constant sales, new events (Cyber Monday, Pre-Thanksgiving, etc.), and the opening of stores on Thanksgiving. This has led to Black Friday becoming less and less relevant. However, the party is not over.
To reverse this trend, retailers need to remember what made Black Friday special. Years ago Black Friday was THE EVENT. Now it seems more like an obligation. To restore the success of Black Friday the day needs to be fun and exciting for both employees and customers.
Differentiate with Compelling and Unique Experiences
Retailers need to take a page out of New Year’s Eve party planners’ playbooks. They need to think about how they create compelling and unique experiences so that customers will choose them over the unlimited other options that exist. These experiences also have to excite and energize their employees. If employees are excited they will invite family and friends to the “party.”
Retailers must understand that these unique and compelling experiences cannot be enterprise-wide, cookie-cutter affairs. They must be local to each store and reflective of the community, the customers and employees. Seems like a very tall order. However, every single retailer currently has the tools necessary to accomplish this goal—their employees.
Instead of tasking their overworked Marketing department with coming up with different experiences for each store, managers should engage the employees. They should ask the employees what type of activities, give-aways, and experiences should be part of their store’s Black Friday. Then after selecting the best ideas managers should have the team vote on which ones to execute. This way, from ideation to execution the employees truly own it.
Furthermore, as any retailer worth their salt knows, the best ideas always come from the field. And often, they come from the person you least expect. The beauty of this strategy is that it is never too late to implement. In the next installment, I will discuss some of the successful “party” suggestions that I received from my employees when I was a GM. Till then, PARTY ON!!!