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Black Friday ANALYSIS


32


JUST KEEP CALM


AND CARRY ON W By Paul Laville, T21 Training hether you love it or hate it, there’s


no doubt that Black Friday is here to stay, having almost supplanted Christmas as the shopping event of the year. However, while planning your battle strategy for the Christmas period has always been relatively straight-forward, planning for Black Friday can be trickier. The promotional window is tighter and the


difference in consumer expectations is significant: at Christmas, customers are pleasantly surprised to find a good deal, however, during Black Friday they expect it. And they’ll wait for it too, throughout the whole of November…


Picture the scene The impact Black Friday can land on the trade is quite incredible. Shops stand quietly in the weeks leading up to it, visited only by shuffling wanderers poking around to see what they might want come the day when everything goes over the top. Your sales staff can spend ages talking to customers prior to the event only to hear the words: “I’ll wait until the end of the month. It’ll be on a deal then won’t it?” And the tills remain silent until the day itself, at which time all the guns start blazing at once and chaos rains down. As a result of all these elements together, a


strange psychological mechanism can kick-in without warning. It goes a bit like this: Customers barge into your store and demand to know what


you can do for them at the best price. “What’s the best deal you can do on that telly, chum? They’re practically giving them away down the road.” And you want to respond with something like:


“Can’t you read? The price is the price, now either buy it or get out of my shop.” Of course you don’t actually say that (I hope!) but the fact it’s in your head alters your behaviour, your body language and the tone of your voice. You become quite militant about it.


Is the customer always right? It’s easy for us to be defensive to the point of aggression when our stores are invaded by bargain hunters stripping down our margin. But go online around the Black Friday weekend and you’ll see plenty of tweets about “the surly sales person who told me to buy it off the internet instead”. Ask the sales person whether they thought they were being ‘surly’ and they’ll most likely say “no, the customer was being aggressive”. So who was right and who was wrong? Answer: no one really, but it is something


only you can prevent happening. It’s a form of ‘fundamental attribution error’, a cognitive bias that can strike the best of us under fire, and I’ve seen it in stores around Black Friday – Christmas too for that matter – and particularly in the current trading climate where sales in retail are hard fought to win. The key to overcoming it and being the better person is to change your mindset and manage your


emotions. That’s not always easy but here’s a quick fix: Firstly, celebrate the deal, rejoice in the fact that if nothing else Black Friday is driving customers into your shop to spend money with you. As one retailer said to me “you have to be in it, or you’ll miss out”. Secondly, imagine the damage that can be done, when times are tough enough, during one of the busiest shopping events of the year, you react negatively because someone seems to be more demanding than usual. But here’s the thing: It’s immensely liberating to release your inner market- trader, to actually ‘sell the deal’ and shout about the savings customers will make if they buy today.


Savvy customers Don’t get me wrong, you still have to sell. Customers will be comparing deals online and offline and weaponising them against you, so you’ve still got to convince them that buying from you gives them access to a wider range of benefits and support that they’ll struggle to find elsewhere. Also, think about the experience you want Black Friday shoppers to walk into and think what you can do with the opportunities the day presents. What I’m saying is embrace it. Black Friday is not


going away, so stand tall and make it special, make it experiential, and make it work for you and your customers by being positive and ready to sell the extras with every deal your customers appear to ‘demand’.


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