The Black Friday Experience

Once the boon of every retail business, Black Friday has taken quite a P.R. hit lately. And for good reason. What was once a fun early-morning adventure for bargain hunters has become a chaotic, frustrating and painful ordeal. Could the experience be any worse?black friday

You’ve probably heard about camping/sporting goods retailer REI boycotting Black Friday, and others have followed. M
any have finally said “no” to being open on Thanksgiving Day.

On the consumer side, many of us already skip Black Friday—you surely know people who consider a 4:00 a.m. trek to the mall to be the very definition of insanity. Even the latest data from the National Retail Federation suggests that 45% of shoppers won’t do any on-site shopping over the 2015 Black Friday weekend.

Meanwhile, according to the NRF, online sales are once again expected outpace overall growth, increasing between 6 and 8 percent to as much as $105 billion in November and December. And on that fateful Friday, online sales casually peak around noon, not 7:00 a.m. At the very least, that’s a stark contrast to camping out on a sidewalk to save some money on an off-brand TV.

There’s a lesson here, and it speaks to customer experience. While most retailers will continue to do brisk business on Black Friday, the shift to online shopping is a direct response to a retail experience that leaves a lot to be desired.

Simply, consumers want something better. Maybe it’s a better price. Maybe it’s knowing when an item is in stock. Maybe it’s a more efficient and time-saving way to shop. Maybe it’s something far less frustrating. Maybe, with a good cup of coffee and a favorite playlist, it’s an experience that’s actually—gasp!—enjoyable.

Good businesses know this. If you’ve ever shopped on a fast, well-designed site with a silky smooth interactive interface built for ecommerce, gorgeous images and an intuitive shopping cart, it’s hard to imagine ever going back to the bricks.

Experience matters. This year, make sure your site isn’t the online version of Black Friday.