Pre-Offers, Mobile Promos and Social Media Events Boost Early Holiday Shopping

5 Innovative Approaches

The big holiday kickoff weekend gave retailers something to celebrate, as the National Retail Federation reported that 212 million shoppers visited stores and web sites over Black Friday weekend, up from 195 million last year. Shoppers also spent more — total spending reached an estimated $45 billion, up from $41.2 billion in 2009.

“The rules for Black Friday have changed significantly,” said NRF President & CEO Matthew Shay, in a press announcement. “Instead of waiting until Thanksgiving Day to announce their promotions, many retailers got shoppers excited about Black Friday by offering sneak peeks of deals in advance, using social media to create buzz, or teasing upcoming deals on their web sites.”

Creative retailers went beyond simple discounting bypresenting promotional messaging around product offerings andintegrating social and mobile strategies into their overall holiday kickoff mix.


Retail TouchPoints spotlights 5 ways retailers innovated offers this year, as follows:

1. Creating Urgency with Changing Discounts: Building on the success of its 2009 Cyber Monday offering, alternative furniture retailer LoveSac took advantage of the traditional demand for big-ticket items. For one-day-only LoveSac offered customers the opportunity to receive up to 75% off entire online orders. The sale started at midnight and the discount dropped every few minutes, creating urgency to buy. LoveSac sent an email on Sunday with the scoop, reminding recipients “the discount will continue to drop until you click ‘Place Order.’”

The retailer also encouraged recipients to spread the word on Facebook.

2. Leveraging The Social Surge: As expected, retailers took to Facebook and Twitter to share the scoop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, but during the 10 days leading up to Black Friday, the retailers with the largest Facebook communities grew their fan bases by an average of 10%, according to data from Media Logic. More aggressive retailers on Facebook grew their fan bases at twice that rate, according to The Media Logic 2010 Retail Marketing Report: How Facebook Is Opening the Eyes of 100 Brands to the Power of Owned Media Marketing.

The report found that, through a combination of Black Friday and other seasonal offers, discounts, contests, games and “Like Us” calls to action, the top 10 fastest growing retailers on Media Logic’s survey list saw their “Liker” bases soar by an average of 20% between Nov. 16 and Nov. 26. Media Logic has been tracking the growth and use of social media by 100 national retailers since July 2010. featured a “Countdown to Black Friday,” which began on Oct. 29, while Best Buy created a Facebook event where members of the community could RSVP to be among the first shoppers to get the inside scoop on promotions.

3. Location, Location, Location! As the location-based “check in” trend continues to gain traction, retailers leveraged Foursquare to enhance in-store traffic on Black Friday. Sports Authority gave away $500 gift cards to 20 randomly selected Foursquare users who checked in at one of the brand’s 400-plus stores. Participants were required to publish the check-in on Twitter to have a chance to win, and the promotion ran from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The number-one store by Foursquare check-ins was Target, however, which captured almost one quarter of all Black Friday check-ins, according to data compiled by Trendrr and AdAge. Target had purchased the hashtag #BlackFriday on Twitter.

4. Mobile Madness: In addition to approximately 50,000 Foursquare mobile check-ins in retail stores on Black Friday, conversely, many shoppers skipped the crowds and shopped from their mobile phones. Mobile shopping increased 310% and online payment volume rose 27% on Black Friday, compared with last year, according to PayPal.

Shopkick, which recently added Target to its retail roster, is working with retailers to enhance CRM efforts throughout the holiday shopping season. Target, Best Buy, Macy’s American Eagle Outfitters, Sports Authority, Wet Seal and Simon Malls are participating in Shopkick’s “The 12 Days of Kickmas” campaign by rewarding mobile shoppers for simply visiting their stores. Consumers who walk into the participating stores will be entered into the sweepstakes to win one of 12 progressive daily prize packages.

“Mid-2010 we started to see a strong movement towards more intelligent selling — trying to give people things they want more creatively, as opposed to just offering sales,” said Bob Cell, CEO, MyBuys. “[Retailers are] letting merchandise and innovation drive the revenue versus steep discounts. We’ve seen some incredibly strong numbers from our client base and it was exacerbated this holiday weekend.” While .5% of MyBuys’ retail client traffic came from mobile devices in 2009, mobile traffic in 2010 counts for nearly 10% of web visits.

Cell said MyBuys retail customers saw an average increase of 20% in non-promoted sales year-over-year. “That was powerful,” he said. “What it really said is that the consumer is back, they’re spending and finding more in e-commerce.”

5. Extending Deals: Although Black Friday has long been considered the official holiday shopping season kickoff, retailers began messaging deals earlier in November, and offered an online jump-start with deals beginning on Thanksgiving day instead. tripled the number of specials from 2009, giving customers 40% off over 100 items, according to The New York Times. Best Buy, Macy’s and J.C. Penney offered nearly every deal touted for Black Friday online starting on Thursday. Other retailers capitalized on Cyber Monday traffic by extending deals to Tuesday morning.

Customers responded well to retail offerings this year, and retailers should be cautiously optimistic about the upcoming holiday seasons, according to an analysis released yesterday from ForeSee Results. Although customer satisfaction with online retailers on Cyber Monday was the same this year as last year (73.1 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s (ACSI) 100-point scale), satisfaction throughout the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday week and weekend was higher this year. The benchmark is an average of more than 140 retail web sites.

“What I found interesting is that scores within that average had a huge range — from 42 to 88,” said Kevin Ertell, VP of Retail Strategy, ForeSee Results. “We generally say anything over 80 is excellent, and I was surprised that more than one-third of our retailers are scoring over 80. Many of them have put tremendous effort into improving the customer experience and it is clearly paying off. But 14 of the retailers in the benchmark have holiday scores of 60 and under. These are all pretty big companies, so it’s interesting that there is still such a huge maturity gap when it comes to e-retail customer experience.”

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