Editor's Cut: I would like to proclaim Friday, November 22, to be the first ever Frosty Friday.
On this day, executives of retailers, both online and off, are mandated to ingest a multitude of frosty beverages, be them spiked with extra cheer or not.
Why implement Frosty Friday? Well, first, everyone seems to be claiming a day in the holiday season, from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, so I just thought I would get in on the action. But beyond my selfish push for fame (or infamy), this precious Friday could be the last time retail executives are allowed to breathe, smile, drink…or do anything…until the New Year.
Thanksgiving Day, once reserved for all things for which we give thanks—including football, turkey, pumpkin pie and family—will set off a season that those outside of retail may not be able to fathom. According to the Adobe Digital Index, an annual forecast based on an analysis of nearly a half-trillion visits to retail websites, Thanksgiving will be the fastest-growing online shopping day in 2013, up 21 percent since 2012. But don’t worry about Thanksgiving’s friends, Black Friday (expected to grow 17 percent) and Cyber Monday (expected to increase 15 percent), as it looks like they will be just fine. In fact, the study predicts that Cyber Monday will reap some $2.27 billion and will be known as the highest single online shopping day—ever.
The answer to what has sparked these double-digit growth predictions may be as simple as a shortened shopping season. With only 27 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Adobe predicts that the six days that have been stolen from retailers could cut $1.5 billion in potential online sales, so marketers are being asked to compensate for those days, and fast.
Now, you may be thinking that your email inboxes are already overworked with the onset of new days. Green Monday, that Monday about 10 days before Christmas, is a big day for online retailers, although we have yet to see the term popularized outside of the retail industry. This is the “last day for free shipping,” also known as the “last guaranteed to arrive before Christmas” day or, as we call it in my house, “the last day before you have to go to the mall” day. In 2009, $854 million was spent online in the U.S. on Green Monday. The Adobe report predicts that Green Monday will reap more than $1.023 billion this year.
It is easy to get lost in the numbers, but I also think there is something fundamentally missing from all of these predictions of upside and revenue—a discussion of the customer experience that retailers must be prepared to manage in the midst of all of this messaging. Just how many shoppers will march into stores on Black Friday and demand to receive the 20-percent discount being offered online? Who will be the first retailer to crack under the “buy online, pick up in store” crush on Black Friday thanks to all this Thanksgiving shopping? Are we armed and ready for when Black Friday savings dreams turn into social media outrage? Have our front-line resources been updated and educated about all of our online promotions and sales drives?
Now do you see why Frosty Friday may be a necessity?
Mapping and managing the customer experience over this 27-day sprint feels exhausting to me, sitting safely on the outside, but it is a requirement. This year will be one of the most complex and ferocious holiday shopping seasons that retailers, online and off, will have to endure. Without a customer experience strategy in place, any number of wheels could fall off the bus, and billions are at stake.
So, to celebrate you—our peers in retail—I’ll be raising a glass of frosty goodness in your honor on Frosty Friday. As you face Shop-pocalypse 2013 with all of the integrated, measurable and connected customer experiences that you can muster, may the force and all other global deities be with you. It’s going to be a wild ride.
Warning: I don’t tweet much over the holidays…too busy shopping...but you can still find me @lizkmiller