The ability to shop without leaving the comfort of your couch – a luxury that was unimaginable just two decades ago – continues to disrupt what used to be America’s biggest in-store shopping day of the year.
According to a recent nation-wide survey of 1,000 adult respondents, only 37% of Americans plan to brave the Black Friday crowds and visit physical stores. There is a general agreement amongst respondents that despite the appeal of the price reductions, physical stores are far too busy (67%) and are just not worth the hassle (31%).
Consumers Demand Stress-Free Convenience
This year, there is likely to be even fewer manic shoppers sprinting out of their homes at dawn, caffeinated and determined to snatch up the last ultra-discounted home appliance, laptop or handbag. Today’s shoppers are happily lost in the world of online shopping – where the retail industry lies at the tips of their fingers anytime, anywhere, and from any device. Throw free shipping into the mix and it is no surprise that shopping has taken on a new face: feet up on the couch, warm dog snuggled on lap, movie streaming in the background, and glass of red wine in hand to help with difficult choices.
“For the 2018 Black Friday festivities, Americans are trading in their physical shopping carts for online carts,” said Janelle Dieken, senior vice president of Genesys (www.genesys.com), and an expert in customer experience solutions. “Convenience is king, but online shopping is hardly hassle-free if customers are met with difficulties making payments, trouble finding answers to questions quickly, lack of response when using live chat and, not to mention, security issues.”
Shopping has become as much about the experience as the purchase. The decrease in attraction of the Black Friday experience is not an in-store customer service issue — only 8% of respondents in the U.S. cite a lower standard of service as a reason to avoid physical stores. However, to many shoppers’ dismay, online purchases can still come with a high level of stress and frustration related to customer service.
Digitalization has redefined the norms around communication between consumers and companies. But, when online interactions aren’t handled expertly, they can leave cyber shoppers waiting (im)patiently at best. Or at worst, screaming profanities at incompetent chat bots or overwhelmed contact center agents. Companies can either fall victim to the digital chaos of holiday shopping or harness the opportunity by ensuring that communicating with customer support is an easy, pleasant experience – for all parties involved.
Can’t Get Enough of Black Friday Trends? Here Are Some Additional Survey Findings
- The Black Friday retail experience holds the least attraction for Americans who have the most experience with it. Only 25% of those aged 55 and up plan to brave the crowds, while 60% of 25 to 34-year-olds will be diving head-first into the chaos.
- The trend spans all regions of the United States, with only 31% of respondents in the Southwest likely to show up in person on Black Friday, versus a nation-wide high of 40% in both the Northeast and Western states.
- American men are more likely than women to shop in person on Black Friday, with 44% planning to visit stores versus only one-third of female respondents (33%).
Black Friday is not dying – it’s simply evolving. To adapt with the changing times, companies must build the infrastructure to ensure that the entire buying experience is personal and friendly for the consumer. Whether people plan to shop online or in-store, the anticipation game has begun.
Retailers, if everything hits the fan on Black Friday, please remember this one simple thing: If you put your customers first, and address their needs, you will be rewarded – not just in the form of favorable seasonal revenue, either. Today, a positive brand reputation is inextricably tied to delivery of good customer experiences. Case in point: 72% of U.S. survey respondents say they have sometimes or always bought something from a business based solely on its reputation for customer service. And, a whopping 89% of respondents have taken action as a direct result of poor customer service.