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Forget Black Friday, Is Your eCommerce Store Ready for Thanksgiving?

target pressWalmart, Target, K-Mart, Staples – they’re just a few of the stores that will open their doors on Thanksgiving with hopes of getting a jump on the holidays sales season. Many believe this is another step in the decline of the human race but honestly, is it more crazy to go shopping at 8 pm on Thanksgiving (leaving family members behind to clean up the mess) or stand in line at 1 am on Black Friday?

(Can we all take a moment to appreciate the blond woman in this press shot from Target. She’s simply having a wonderful Christmas time.)

The good news for online retailers is that a large portion of holiday bargain hunters aren’t going to venture out until it’s officially Black Friday. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to shop.

According to a study by Placed, 46% of shoppers will spend part of Thanksgiving shopping online. Once Black Friday arrives, though, that number drops considerably to only 37%.

placed black friday shopping chart

If you’re running an ecommerce store, are you ready to process orders on Thanksgiving? More importantly, do you have someone ready to respond to customer questions on Thanksgiving? Think about it. It’s an emotional day. Everyone’s feeling rushed then lulled by the tryptophan in the turkey. They’re not thinking straight. Which means they’re not going to see that giant button that says click here to choose a different color. They’re going to send an email or look for a customer service number to call. I want the blue one, not the pink one in the picture! Do you sell the blue one? And will I get it in time for Christmas and can I combine shipping if it’s going to two different addresses and can it be returned after Christmas. . . and so on and so on.

We know from experience that shoppers lose the ability to complete even the simplest tasks once they’re in Holiday Panic mode. If you want that sale, you need to be prepared to hold their hand from Thanksgiving afternoon on through Cyber Monday.

We should take bets on which ecommerce sites will make the news first because of a site crash and which retailer will be the first to “ruin Christmas” with promises they can’t keep. It’s going to happen. It always does.

Once the shoppers hit the stores on Black Friday, online retailers still have a chance to pull them back.

placed smartphoneAccording to Placed, 43% of Black Friday shoppers will be using their smartphone to check prices online while they’re at the store. Showrooming is most likely to happen in bookstores, toys stores, beauty, sporting goods, and shoe stores. Remember, if you can’t beat the prices, beat them with great customer service and bundles. Speaking for moms everywhere – we love a bundle. Put the games and the accessories with the gaming system. Include the batteries with the toy. Include the matching jewelry with the dress. Pure joy.

The 2013 Holiday Shopping Season is now underway. Are you excited or terrified?