Black Friday has a long history, but the original Black Fridays had nothing to do with sales. Instead, they were generally negative events that happened on a Friday — in the same way that Black Tuesday refers to the stock market crash of 1929. In the 1950s, however, retailers started noticing that people would flock to shops on the day after Thanksgiving, held on the fourth Thursday of November. With the rise of national chains, marketers spotted an opportunity to encourage shoppers to their specific store brands through discounting and day-specific loss leaders. Black Friday as a US cultural icon was born.
In 2022, online sales for Black Friday alone grew to $65.3 billion globally, and US sales reached $9.12 billion. This truly marks Black Friday as a global event, and no longer just an American phenomenon.
Behind the Scenes in Retail
Behind every Black Friday event, a huge amount of planning takes place. First, you need to consider what products to discount and what products to push on Black Friday. These are two very different things:
Highlighted products: These are products that are designed to raise interest due to deep discounts and can be the highlight of a store promotion.
Discounts: These keep shoppers buying and traveling around the store looking for deals.
In general, Black Friday deals on highlighted products will be announced to colleagues about two weeks before. Big changeovers will take place a few days before, preparing for the inevitable rush. This involves the entire store team, especially visual merchandizing, if the store has a visual merchandizing team.
The overall announcement will need to be quickly disseminated, and not all colleagues will be at the initial morning huddles. x-hoppers plays a role here by making discreet internal announcements quick and easy and also for colleagues to doublecheck what offers are being promoted closer to the time.
Similarly, when it comes to actually putting out the products, there needs to be close communication between warehouse and the people on the shop floor, including managers. Not every store will have every product advertized, and colleagues will need to be aware of that. Again, rapid communication makes it simple to instantly get the latest updates on stock — and this can be aided through the AI Coach within x-hoppers to deliver instant advice on what is available in the system.
Efficient staffing is crucial to ensure the store is ready. This means ensuring that each member of staff is appropriately tasked and busy. Again, x-hoppers helps with this organization.
Surviving the Chaos of Black Friday
On the day, there’s complete pandemonium. Shoppers looking for great deals will often wait outside hours before a store opens to get them, leading to frightening scenes in some stores. At this point, staff need a lot of support to get them through, whether it’s information or simply an acknowledgement that their break will happen in the next five minutes. Being able to efficiently route staff into their required slots can make all the difference, especially during mealtimes.
What many stores do, however, is have additional items to act as points of interest. In many cases, these additional items — often tech goods such as TVs or tablets — may be not as familiar to the average staff member. Instant communication to a knowledgeable staff member is one option, but the integrated AI Coach can immediately answer questions posed into the headset as well. This helps when dealing with many customer queries, unless it’s “Will this fit in my living room.”
The x-hoppers system, however; isn’t just about internal communication. It’s about improving the customer experience. To ensure customers don’t spend ages looking for a staff member customers can use smart call points, via QR codes or kiosks, that send an alert directly to the x-hoppers headsets. This means that staff know exactly what area or item a customer needs help with and can head there right away. The smart call points also have chat, voice and video call capabilities, so customers can directly ask a staff member a question, even if they’re located in another store or call center. This feature can help you support busy stores by providing on-demand virtual assistance.
Ironically, on Black Friday, theft rises by about 2%, and it can cause substantial losses, wiping out some of the profit. With x-hoppers, you can track those attempting to steal from you through AI theft detection. It sends an alert to the headset, helping you intercept would-be thieves rapidly and accurately. You can also send a message through the PA system, reminding shoppers that they are being recorded and there’s a theft detection system in place.
AI can also detect spills and messes that could cause a customer accident, as well as alert staff to a customer waiting in an area. All of which make it easier to anticipate store issues and create a safer and more enjoyable shopping experience.
x-hoppers Helps You Generate Sales on Black Friday
Ultimately, x-hoppers help to generate sales through increased staff knowledge, a more navigable store and ensuring staff are where they should be throughout the day. AI systems can assist staff with solving problems before they even arise, and they can even prevent theft. The customer experience is absolutely critical to all of this, and it will keep customers coming back well after the chaos of Black Friday, and the entire Christmas shopping season, is over.