I’m a sucker for Black Friday, and I have been since I purchased my first laptop at Best Buy for $350 – half price – the day after Thanksgiving in 2002. I’ll never forget how excited I was when I realized I was close enough to the front of the line to be one of just 15 people who would get one of the thin, brown boxes the blue-vested store associate was handing to eager shoppers.
Older and busier now, I do most of my Black Friday shopping online, but I still like to hit the stores for the excitement and exclusive deals I can find there. This year, I started my shopping (both online and in-store) late on Thanksgiving Day. And I was very impressed with how three big retailers simplified and personalized the experience.
Vistaprint, an online-only custom-print service, offers shoppers 60% off of all products on Black Friday. I wait for the deal every year so I can order Christmas cards and a calendar that features our extended family.
This year, Vistaprint extended the deal to November 29, giving me a few extra days to wrangle photographs from my relatives for our calendar. The pricing even prompted me to order a marketing banner for our daughter’s elementary school because they needed one and, well, why not? It was 60% off!
While the discount is great, it wouldn’t be worth much without the terrific user experience. With Vistaprint adding creative templates, drag-and-drop functionality and easy-to-use editing tools all the time, they will get my business every Black Friday. It also helped that they sent me two cart recovery reminders to approve my items for printing. With 20 calendars, 250 holiday cards and a banner, I spent $250+ with Vistaprint.
Target is one of my favorite retailers. I love its product lines, conversational marketing style and customer service. With its mobile apps and discounts to engage and convert shoppers, Target has become a retailer to watch in the burgeoning multi-channel retail environment.
Just weeks before Black Friday, Target integrated Cartwheel, its loyalty discount app, with REDperks, a customer reward app it had begun to pilot at select locations. Lucky for me, one of those test locations is less than a mile from my house, so I’ve been using the REDperks app for more than a year.
Target’s mobile-app integration was a critical part of what made this year’s Black Friday in-store shopping so terrific. When I used REDperks before the integration, I had to scan two to four barcodes at the point of sale to get discounts and qualify for rewards. This year, I accessed all of my discounts, coupons and rewards (now called “perks”) in the Cartwheel mobile app.
I easily spent $500+ at Target and later checked in with a friend who is a senior technical architect for Target to share how well the mobile-app integration worked for me as a shopper. He said their systems held up well on the digital side and told me he, too, spent a chunk of change Black Friday shopping with his employer.
Amazon was the first place I ever shopped online during Black Friday, and I made the rounds there this year, too. Amazon was a pioneer in personalizing the shopping experience. This year, they added a feature that took it to another level.
I clicked on a button that invited me to explore “New and Interesting Finds on Amazon.” On the resulting page, I had the opportunity to “like” products and answer a pop-up question: “Like this theme?” Once I answered, a pop-up affirmed, “Thanks, I got it!” and offered an encouraging message: “Heart the things you love today. We’ll show you more like them tomorrow.”
The whole experience felt a bit like walking through the aisles of a department store with a personal shopper, and it helped me spend $300+ with Amazon.
I also noticed cross-selling between Target and Amazon, so it seems their complex relationship continues. On Black Friday 2011, Amazon’s Kindle was the best-selling tablet in Target’s stores. The next year, Target decided not to sell Amazon brands. But this year, the love was back! Amazon offered many of the same products as Target for the same price ($49.99 for the Garmin Vivofit Jr. Kids Fitness Monitor, regularly priced at $79.99). And as I walked through the Target aisles, I noticed Kindle, Echo, and Echo Dot for Black Friday prices that matched those offered at Amazon.com.
As a product marketer, I’m delighted when I see retailers applying an excellent user experience to engage and sell. And it’s hard to beat that feeling you get when you’ve gotten a great deal on something you truly need or want – much like that laptop I bought at Best Buy more than a decade ago. The laptop is long gone, but my affinity for Black Friday lives on.