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More People Will Shop on Black Friday, But Most Retailers Expect Zero Growth

black friday calmI’m a shopper, seller and marketer so Black Friday is a huge day for me. Thanksgiving is the day of rest needed before the start of a four-day marathon that will have me monitoring the internet even more than usual. I’m already feeling it from all sides – the anticipation, the concerns, the contingency plans. Will the orders come in? Will we be able to keep up? Will it be a banner day or no better than business as usual?

Results of a survey from The Small Business Authority shows that most retailers aren’t expecting a major blow-out. 70% say that they expect business to be the same as it was last year on Black Friday. 23% thought they’d see an increase of 4% or more and only 7% thought they’d see a decrease.  In 2012, 25% predicted an increase and 17% thought they’d see a decrease, so we’re a little less pessimistic this year.

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.

Traditional Stores Opening Silicon Valley Labs In Attempt to Compete Online

Silicon-Valley-MapIt’s taken many years and lots of proclamations from the Internet industry that it has taken over shopping (which it hasn’t by any stretch of the imagination but it’s great PR hype, isn’t it?) but the world of traditional brick and mortar retailers is giving in just a little.

How? They are setting up labs in the Silicon Valley area to be closer to the innovation so they don’t get left behind. The Associated Press reports

Software engineers wearing jeans and flip flops test the latest smartphone apps. Walls and windows double as whiteboards where ideas are jotted down. And a mini basketball net is in the center of it all.

At first glance, this workplace resembles any Silicon Valley startup. There’s just one exception: Target’s trademark red bulls-eye at the entrance.

US Consumers Would Switch Online Stores before Switching Grocery Stores

In the retail business, loyalty is everything. Returning customers are the bread and butter of most businesses and you can’t afford to lose even one. Unfortunately for online shops, customer loyalty is iffy at best.

switching online retailers

The Nielsen Global Survey of Loyalty Sentiment report shows that online retailers come in last by a pretty wide margin.

They surveyed 29,000 Internet respondents in 58 countries across 16 categories and found that people were more likely to be loyal to brands / companies they use everyday such as banks, mobile phone service and cable providers.

I see it a different way. It’s not loyalty that keeps customers hanging on – it’s lack of options coupled with the hassle factor (not to be confused with the Hassle-hoff.) Changing your mobile phone provider often means paying a penalty for ending a contract early or losing upgrade benefits you’ve accrued over time.

Flipboard Embraces eCommerce with Catalogs For and By the People

br-catalog-coverFlipboard, the image-heavy, mobile news aggregator is encouraging readers to shop with a new “create your own catalog” tool.

To get you started, they’ve contracted with some heavy hitters to create catalogs of their own. InStyle, The Verge and Nylon Guys have created collections of their favorite things. You’ll also find curated catalogs from Chef Daniel Boulud (“Holiday Favorites”), designer Cynthia Rowley (“All Things Cynthia”), singer Sara Evans (“A Real Fine Place”) and actress Alyssa Milano (“Gifts for the Woman in Your Life”).

These catalogs are a mix of products from a variety of brands that fit into a theme. Then there are the brand specific catalogs from Banana Republic, Birchbox, eBay, Etsy, Fab, Levi’s and ModCloth.

Study Shows the Old Fashioned Print Catalog is Good for Internet Sales

1962-sears-christmas-bookWhen I was little, my sisters and I nearly burst with excitement when the Sears Christmas Wish Book landed on our doorstep. We’d sit together on the couch and slowly go through it page by page (even the boring pages because the anticipation was part of the fun), working our way back to the toy section. We’d play “pick,” choosing our favorite item on each page as if we were creating the world’s biggest wish list.

I wonder if today’s kids feel that way about the Toys R Us catalog that shows up in the Sunday newspaper?

The excitement level may not be the same but a study by global management consulting firm Kurt Salmon shows that print catalogs actually help boost online sales.

Men Go Mobile in a Big Way this Holiday Season

It’s that time of year when hundreds of holiday shopping surveys and infographics are released into the wild, wild, web. It’s quite a sight – so many numbers and percents in a wide variety of colors and sizes. We can’t spend time with all of them, but in the coming weeks, we’ll take a closer look at a few of them in the hope that you’ll find an inspirational nugget to inspire you during this competitive season.

Today, we have the Burst Media “Spending Season 2013″ infographic. This one is simple and clean. Nothing special graphics wise but there’s a particular segment that caught our eye:

burst media mobile shoppers 2013