A “Cyber Friday” Means A “Black Monday” For Malls

As I sat thoughtfully on a Sunday afternoon, wedged between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I had a mobile premonition that times are a’changing.

Is Black Friday becoming Cyber Friday?  That would mean a dark Monday for many retailers and malls in North America.

On November 28, 2005, following the Thanksgiving weekend, started discussing an online shopping phenomenon that it coined Cyber Monday. After fighting for sale items in the aisles, shoppers starting surfing the web for remnant deals.

However, Matt Shay and his team at the National Retail Federation should be realizing that the online shopping cloud (that was politely situated on a separate day with separate deals for online shoppers) now is disruptively moving into our primetime shopping calendar.


Most mobile shopping on Black Friday still tends to be mobile marketing focused: Price comparison hunting with Amazon PriceCheck, ShopSavvy or eBay’s Redlazer App; and mobile coupon clipping for show-to-save deals that drive impulse sales into the mall and retail store.

While these shopping apps and mobile web services are great for hardcore price hunters, the small-screen experience is not optimal. The mobile phone may help shoppers better navigate high value items such as shoes or electronics in their local mall, but does it steer them to a purchase or just rudely interrupt an in-aisle purchase?

What is beyond price hunting? If a price check shows a better deal online, many folks may close their phones and choose to buy the item that evening on the web on a large screen in the comfort of their home.

This is about to change. There is a new breed of shopping disruption entering the market.  Apple’s iPad has hybridized:

  • mobile & fixed internet
  • small screen & large screen
  • impulse & thoughtful shopping

Kindle Fire: The Mall Buster

The new commerce-tablet is a portable mall buster. The iPad allows for an elegant portable internet experience, with Apple focused on app economy and digital checkout on iTunes.

Other tablets have entered the market on Apple’s terms and had mix results ―. until the Amazon Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire tablet combines book commerce with the immersive Kindle experience and is all about one-click commerce. The device is optimized for in-store, in-mall deal hunting, price comparison and, most importantly, one-click checkout.

Amazon has always been a commerce disrupter: They battled and beat the book store. Now they are taking on the entire mall.

Amazon reinvented book browsing in 2007 when we saw the first Kindle, the harbinger of a new power game and a vital new relationship with the mobile consumer. In order to promote its Kindle device, Amazon sold electronic books below wholesale prices, which was a tactical loss, since owning the commerce platform was the ultimate reward for Amazon.

Amazon won the book battle: Borders went out of business and Barnes & Noble opened coffee shops and began selling household furniture.

The Kindle Fire is the final commerce frontier. Amazon is so confident in the commerce that they will generate in the mall that they are selling the unit at a loss ― $199 with a unit cost of $210.

Amazon’s One-Click commerce, along with VISA’s service, Billing Revolution’s Single-Click and a flood of cloud commerce options, will enter the market this year.

What does this mean to America’s great Black Friday tradition?

It means that shoppers on Friday, November 23, 2012, may move from comparison price hunting in the mall to disruptive purchasing in the cloud. No longer are Cyber Monday and Black Friday neatly separated: the cloud is in the mall to stay.

Dark Clouds

We anticipate over 5,000 store closings in 2012 ― nearly 40% up from 2011. Many of these closings will be due to continuing shopper malaise. However, as in-mall cloud shopping accelerates, stores particularly in the apparel, shoe and electronics verticals will need to reinvent themselves. They will need to focus on breaking down the channel barriers between their online presence and physical store. Tackling “cross-channel disconnect” will be key to survival.

Stores will need to focus on the non-Black Friday days ― all 364 of them ― and work to build a loyal, one-to-one relationship with shoppers using their smartphones to bridge the store and cloud experience.

Content curation, sensory experience, customer service and love are all the store has. It will not win on price alone.

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