Last week Amazon announced that July 15 is Prime Day, the day of Amazon’s 20th birthday, and an event that now puts Amazon among the ranks of traditional retailers as it enters the Black Friday in July sales frenzy. Now, of course, there is nothing wrong with advertising Black Friday in July or Christmas in August or Employee Pricing for everyone. Retailers have been using sales gimmicks and slogans for years, and these are ones that have proven, over time, to resonate with the consumer. While this has been the way traditional retail has driven customer traffic and purchasing, it has not been Amazon’s way, until now.
The true nightmare of Black Friday is not the prices, the crowds, the marketing, the lack of sleep, or the challenges involved for us to makes sense of it. The biggest nightmare for the consumer and the retailer (and analysts too) is the logistics of trying to make it run.
For many, ringing in the New Year means making resolutions. Ironically, my resolutions seem to be the same each year; cook more, read more and most importantly, save more. While I can cook and read more by simply planning ahead, there is a bit of a challenge when it comes to saving; especially when you also want to maintain an on-trend wardrobe. After all, Pantone* just named orchid as the new hue for 2014 and I don’t have a thing in that color (just yet.)
Most people wonder when enough is enough and they question why retailers find the need to be open, even if for a few hours, on Thanksgiving Day. The simple answer is that more hours will mean more business. Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday like Christmas and we have all witnessed the commercialization of Christmas. It was only a few years ago we had the national debate via social media, “should retailers put the Christ back in Christmas,” and we also argued to drop “Happy Holidays” and return to “Merry Christmas” in marketing and advertising campaigns. That worked to some degree.
Shipments are not sales, seems like a pretty simple concept to grasp, but it’s apparent from the hysteria that has erupted over IDC’s release of their Q1 tablet shipment data that most of the blogosphere still doesn’t get the difference. We detailed this phenomenon two years ago and still no one can get it right, so I will say it again shipments are not sales - and therefore they present only a partial account of the success or failure of a product or an item. Shipments are important and course NPD recognizes this by providing supply side shipment data through NPD DisplaySearch but without sales you just have inventory, and that does no one any good.
With Black Friday now behind us, it’s time to find out what was hot and what we can expect over the final weeks of the holiday shopping season. With NPD’s Anatomy of Black Friday study data as a gauge, a couple things struck me as I reviewed both the results and my experience at the stores.
I admit to being biased. I work at a company that tracks actual sales results and I spent 10 years at retail. I have always lived and breathed sales results. And while shipments are a great tool (and I worked at a place that tracked those as well), the final verdict of success or failure of an item is sales. If a consumer puts down their hard earned money for a product you can be sure that they saw some spark of value or usefulness to their lives in that device. That is why it is shocking to me that many folks in this industry don’t understand the difference between sales and shipments – and often confuse them in the most basic ways. The latest example is a report this week in DigiTimes and repeated all across the web that the Barnes & Noble Nook out-shipped the Kindle in March. Note I said, and DigiTmes said as well, shipped, not sold. This has caused shock and disbelief throughout the blog community. We will now hear for a few days about how the Kindle is doomed; the iPad is killing it, and various other conspiracy theories.