In 2009, e-commerce sales on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) increased 35% over 2008. Meanwhile the following Monday, also known as Cyber Monday, saw nearly $900 Million in online sales in one day.
Accounting and consulting firm, Deloitte, reports in its 25th Annual Holiday Survey that, 72% of respondents said they would utilize the internet this holiday shopping season and 17% of them would use their smartphones in the process. An additional 12% said they would use social media sites such as Facebook to aid them in their purchasing decisions. Of those consumers that said they would utilize social media sites, the reasons they gave included: gift ideas, coupons, discounts and promotional information; which should prove very useful to retailers as the clock ticks closer to Black Friday.
Web analytics firm, Coremetrics, found that social media will be among the top five most effective ways to attract new visitors to stores and websites. “The thing that is really interesting is that the second best channel for getting new visitors has turned out to be Facebook,” says John Squire, Coremetrics’ chief strategy officer. The result, retailers should see more people in their stores, both brick and mortar and online, and consumers are primed to save a tremendous amount of time and money.
Who is Doing What?
Retailers are already jumping on the geo-location bandwagon and using notable platforms such as Foursquare and Facebook Places to drive people into stores. Facebook is opening up its 500 Million-plus subscriber base to retailers in the hopes of taking on the geo-location industry leader, Foursquare. Merchants like Starbucks, McDonalds, and H&M have already created promotions, and earlier this month The Gap used Facebook Places to give away 10,000 pairs of jeans across 900 of their participating US stores.
JCPenney is no stranger to online promotions and boasts nearly 1.2 million Facebook fans. The company is wrapping a Black Friday sweepstakes that offers 15 lucky Facebook fans a shopping spree where JCPenney shopping experts will be their personal escorts. The company has also partnered with The Salvation Army for a holiday season-long Angel Giving Tree campaign that helps children and seniors in need. Additionally, rather than let shoppers leave Facebook, they have integrated an online shopping experience directly into their Facebook page.
Lowes, the home improvement retailer, launched a Black Friday campaign called “Lowe’s Black Friday Sneak Peek Party on Facebook”. Fans RSVP’d to the event by Friday, November 5th which gave them early access to tremendous deals. Customers were given coupon codes of up to 90% off products on their website. The event was so popular that Lowe’s actually extended the event from Friday through the entire weekend.
Kmart is using Facebook and Twitter to promote their extended Black Friday sales and a Christmas trip sweepstakes while Urban Outfitters and Levi’s have integrated the Facebook “Like” button into their online stores, allowing customers to sort products based on the ones “Liked” most frequently – making it real easy for you to buy for someone who loves those brands.
Social shopping is also playing a much larger role this year than in years past. Sites like LivingSocial and Groupon offer great daily deals to subscribers and the latter has branched out to working with national chains like The Gap and The Body Shop.
The Gap recently offered $50 gift cards at half price through Groupon while The Body Shop offered $40 worth of merchandise for $20. Many thousands of customers participated in these Groupon deals and we expect to see many more retailers participating in similar offerings as we get closer to the holidays. LivingSocial plans on launching a promotion called the 12 Days of Gifting, a program that will offer 12 days of giftable deals, ranging from fine dining to retail stores.
This season, both the retailer and the consumer are benefiting greatly from technology. As a retailer, the opportunity to drive people into your stores has never been better. As a consumer the chance to save money, time and aggravation is equally as exciting. Hopefully the end result of your social shopping experience will make you, well… more social!