Black Friday Watch: A shopper's advice to retailers

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black friday shoppersThere are many websites that collect and post Black Friday ads, many of which are leaked before the official release dates. Savvy shoppers know how to use these sites to plan ahead for the big day. Now one, GottaDeal.com, has released a list of its own, with suggestions to retailers on how to better host Black Friday.

There's some good advice here, like making sure entrances are set up to slowly filter shoppers in rather than encouraging a stampede, have store maps available, and use a ticket system for hot items: the first in line are then assured the deal, no pushing necessary.

I especially like the suggestion to have a second set of doorbuster deals later in the day, and being clear about price matching policies makes good sense.


Other suggestions are, well, a bit of a yawn. A suggesting to serve refreshments is nice, but telling retailers to train employees and open more checkouts seems out of place. It's Black Friday, what retailer doesn't know to train its employees? If it's not already doing this as a matter of course, there are problems in the business model beyond being able to handle the busiest shopping day of the year. And if a store doesn't have every available check out lane open on Black Friday when running a promotion, then it probably doesn't deserve the business.

Here's a few suggestions for retailers not found at GottaDeal.com:

Don't run identical promotions both in store and online. There's nothing more frustrating, or even insulting, to shoppers who brave the elements and come out first thing in the morning than finding out someone ordered up the same item from the comfort of home. Online deals are a great idea, but try running different ones from those in stores. Be clear about availability ahead of time and let your customers decide which is more important.

Locate doorbuster deals in multiple areas of the store, this helps keep the press of people down a bit. And make store employees easily identifiable in a crowd. Consider having them carry signs with the store logo or an "I" for "Information," so that shoppers can locate them and more quickly find what they need.

Retailers still have seven weeks until Black Friday. Proper planning is everything. Do any Black Friday veterans have some ideas to share?
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