Retailers released more promotions this year and released them earlier — extending the Black Friday “weekend” into a month-long series of deals and incentivizing messages to drive brick-and-mortar sales.
And while revenue may have dipped this year, the early delivery of deals and offers was not the enemy of retailers. In fact, it was a wise move for brands to connect with shoppers who are still reluctant to spend much in a recovering economy.
Today’s shoppers like to come to stores prepared, and those who do spend 66 percent more. According to Deloitte, nearly 70 percent of shoppers webroom in advance of in-store shopping to find the best offers, redeemable discounts and help avoid the hassle of large crowds. “People don’t shop on [Black Friday weekend], they’re out buying,” said Moody’s analyst Charlie O’Shea. “Nobody would go through this just to browse.”
Over this important weekend, businesses saw more than $50 billion in sales, and several brands had great success connecting with consumers in the days and weeks leading up to it.
Mobile Prepped Shoppers For Their In-Store Experience
Mobile devices drove approximately half of the online traffic seen this Black Friday — a significant increase over 2013. To drive these webroomers into stores, many retailers provided innovative experiences that answered the concerns shoppers had about facing long lines or potentially sold out items.
Target’s mobile app allowed consumers to build a Black Friday shopping list, confirm inventory at a nearby location and identify where to find it in the actual store. By using indoor mapping technology, shoppers arrived at their local Target knowing exactly where to find their desired items and made purchases quickly and strategically — allowing them to get back to spending time with their loved ones.
Retailers also used mobile to create a sense of exclusivity for in-store offers. Walmart distributed local discounts through its app and advertised a one-hour guarantee, which promised that certain items would be in-stock or available to order at a discounted price if not. It was a brilliant way to guarantee a sale with an interested consumer.
Interactive in-store experiences also played an important role in connecting with today’s “always on” webrooming consumers. At Macy’s, in-store shoppers scanned QR codes to instantly receive digital gift codes. By the end of Black Friday, Macy’s had given away $1 million in prizes and created a unique experience that directly squashed showrooming behavior by keeping their shoppers engaged with their brand.
Mobile webrooming encourages online engagement at any stage of the consumer journey while driving offline sales. Heading into the closing weeks of the holiday sales period and into the new year, retailers need a seamless experience across platforms to help shoppers prepare for their trips in-store while keeping them engaged in special, personalized ways.
Social Kept Shoppers Engaged And Brands Top-Of-Mind
Social buzz around Black Friday doubled from 2013 to 2014, surpassing more than 2 million discussions this year, making it a winning place for retailers to play if they want to connect with webroomers who are looking for product recommendations, reviews and special offers.
This year, Kohl’s used well-timed trivia promotions associated with the popular film Frozen to drive in-store sales through social. In the run-up to Black Friday, Kohl’s posted trivia questions all week on Twitter. Customers who participated in the game could win special discounts or a $500 gift card. Kohl’s then helped customers build wishlists (i.e. shopping lists). Ultimately, the campaign delivered 500 percent higher engagement than Kohl’s normal tweets, and Kohl’s received more mentions than Walmart, Apple and Amazon.
With social media offers like the Kohl’s campaign, retailers create an opportunity to connect with customers in fun, meaningful ways while delivering useful, incentivized messages. The outcomes when these efforts are done right outshine even the toughest competition.
Video Drove Consumers To Physical Store Locations
Walmart won big with video this year. By mixing promotional videos about specific Black Friday product deals (e.g. Xbox One savings) with curated wishlists that targeted specific customer groups (e.g. “9 Gifts for the Star Athlete”), the retail giant attracted more than 28 million views, a 322 percent week-over-week increase.
With a single click at the end of each video, customers could see whether each item was available for in-store pickup. Walmart successfully translated online traffic into offline foot traffic as well. On Cyber Monday, it generated its highest number of same-day pickup orders ever — a 70 percent spike from 2013.
Other brands also used video to drive sales. Kate Spade debuted a new interactive holiday video featuring popular actress Anna Kendrick that allowed viewers to click on and research the items they liked in the video — without ever leaving the video player. Online and mobile users could easily complete a transaction by visiting Kate Spade’s website within the video embed, while those who wanted to shop in-store could find the nearest retail location and confirm product availability.
Advanced digital video experiences like these are something all brands should consider if they want to connect with shoppers moving forward.
Email Marketing Swayed Uncertain Shoppers Towards Purchases
With so many advanced ways of connecting with shoppers, it’s important to remember “traditional” digital advertising still works.
Email marketing, for example, remains enormously powerful, particularly during the holiday season. Last year, 33 to 44 percent of shoppers discovered deals through marketing emails. Plus, over half of respondents in a recent survey said email marketing directly affected their purchasing decisions.
Like an increasing number of retailers, Williams-Sonoma didn’t wait for Black Friday to offer deals and chose to send special offers through email early. To attract new subscribers to their email list, they offered a 10 percent discount and to keep shoppers engaged, and subscribers will continue to receive daily deals through Christmas. Because the experience is opt-in, customers don’t feel flooded by offers, they feel appreciated.
Retailers and brands should not turn away from more “low tech” or “traditional” forms of digital when they still work. The key is just to make sure they facilitate webrooming behavior.
Halfway through the holiday shopping season, many brands already are showing they are taking webrooming behavior more seriously. And as more consumers use different platforms to research items before they buy in-store, it will become even more critical for others to follow their lead.