September 9, 2012

Black Friday 2012 Online Stratagy

It’s starting already. Apple and Amazon are kicking off the shopping season with the rumored announcement of the iPhone 5 expected this week and last week’s Kindles announcement. Even though I won’t be pregnant this time around, we still plan on focusing our shopping efforts online. I really don’t relish the idea of taking a sub five month old out during some of the busy shopping days of the year, in the middle of flu season! As such, it’s time to update our Back Friday strategy with the times.

We’re developing our strategy primarily to catch surprise deals – those we won’t know about in advance. Since we expect the deals to start prior to Black Friday, and continue well into Cyber Monday (which is more like Cyber Week…) we also want to make sure we don’t buy too early if someone else is going to have a better deal.

Price Watching
Dynamic Pricing is becoming increasingly common. It’s been speculated that retailers like Walmart and Amazon will rely on dynamic pricing this holiday season to undercut the competition. In order to capitalize on these price fluctuations, we plan to set up price watches.

We intend to utilize Camelcamelcamel (Amazon price watches), and it’s companion websites CamelBuy (BestBuy price watches) and CamelEgg (NewEgg price watches). Last year, many of the big chains had great deals in the days and weeks leading up to Black Friday for items like video games, books, music, toys, and electronics. They even had price drops for big ticket items as well like TVs and gaming consoles. Sometimes these price drops were advertised in advance, but not always. Price watching alerts you to sales as they happen, giving you the best chance possible to grab items as they go on sale before they’re sold out.

I have adjusted all my price watches on down significantly (I never buy during the black Friday season unless it’s an amazing deal!). Currently on my price watch? Memory Cards for the camera, and baby toys & books.

Price watching, however, can only get you so far. Bundles were common last year, and I suspect they will be again. Rather than drop the price of, say, an Xbox 360, retailers will bundle it with several games or with gift cards. Bundles are popular when manufactures control the price of products so retailers can’t discount them. Apple is a prime example. Many of these bundles will be announced for Black Friday, but some are surprises and will happen in the weeks and days leading up to it. Since bundles appear as new product listings, automated price watching won’t work.

Social Media
When we were gearing up for our baby, I set up Google alerts in the hopes of catching sales from online stores too small to have dedicated price alert websites. I’d set an alert with the name of the product I was interested in, and the phrase ‘(Discount OR Sale)’. The strategy didn’t work for me. Turns out Google alerts were not real time enough. For this shopping season, I’m turning to twitter and social media. Nothing is more real time than twitter.

I’ve already friended companies in Facebook and follow them on Twitter already to watch for coupons. For the holiday season I plan to use saved searches, and set up an account with tweetalarm.com. Once those deals are live, you can bet some happy consumer will take to twitter to share the joy of their new purchase. Since I’m new to twitter, I’m testing both services out now. What am I searching for now? #Blackfriday! I want to catch any other good strategy ideas in time to use them.

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