Monthly Archives: November 2016

Observations from Black Friday, including an in-store fee!

Hope you’re enjoying Black Friday and have gotten some amazing deals if you’re shopping (whether it’s in-store, online, or both)!

In my last post yesterday, I mentioned a retailer that is still charging an in-store fee, and why it probably is hindering business.  (At least, that’s what I originally thought until looking into it a bit further).  The retailer is Michaels, the specialty arts-and-crafts store, the same one that had its payment systems hacked a while back.

Michaels charges a $2.95 in-store fee (or higher, depending on options) versus a usual $6.95 shipping fee (or higher, depending on options).  Originally, I was of the impression that such an in-store fee would likely hinder business.

However, the reason why I think such an in-store fee can work here is because, the in-store fee is for items that are NOT actually at the store already, but have to be shipped to the store from their warehouses.  Thus, the item is not actually in-stock, but has to still be shipped.  Instead of it being actually being shipped to your home, however, it’s shipped to the store, where you can pick it up at your convenience (within reason, of course- most stores do only hold items for a number of days before the order is cancelled).

This can help protect your package against “porch pirates” (those thieves that steal your packages right off your front porch or around your house when you’re not home to pick up your packages when the carrier arrives to deliver them).

Thus, you can save $4 (presuming you take the lowest-priced options- $2.95 for in-store and $6.95 for shipping) by having the item shipped to store.  Now, this in-store fee could still hamper business a bit because there are other retailers that don’t charge for shipping to store (Walmart is a prominent example, among others – believe Best Buy and Target have this as well).

Now, Michaels is more of a speciality, niche (and smaller) retailer where they specialize in arts and crafts, something that is not as focused on at Walmart and Target, but the in-price shipping could still be a detriment as compared to those retailers.

Still, the in-store fee isn’t quite as outrageous as I originally thought, thinking originally it was on in-store-already-in-stock items, as that type of fee went out of style at least a few years ago, if not longer.

However, Michaels MIGHT benefit more by dropping the in-store fee and charging a SLIGHTLY higher price on the item itself (i.e. I’m not saying to charge $2.95 more on the item, but maybe $1-$1.50 more)- this way, Michaels would drop the in-store shipping fee entirely, which could turn off some consumers when they see such a fee, as most retailers don’t have any nowadays.  And, the slightly higher cost would be paid by all consumers, more than making up for the loss in $2.95 in-store shipping option.

Something to think about and consider – what do you think of Michaels’ in-store shipping fee?

One update on Best Buy’s iPad Air 2 selection: All 128GB versions are back in stock, as are the 32GB versions.  It’s likely Best Buy limited the number of iPad Air 2s sold at the $125 discount to ensure there would be some at least available on Black Friday.  If all of them were sold on Thanksgiving, that would take away a key item that is in hot demand (as most Apple products are during the holidays).  I suspect Best Buy may do that again to ensure they have a quantity available for Cyber Monday.  They may even discount the iPad Mini 4 again too (right now, those are at full price).

One thing I have noticed with Best Buy’s shipping: While they still have free shipping site-wide on virtually all orders, their free 2-day shipping is gone (for now, at least).  They did have that free 2-day shipping up through Wednesday, but when Thanksgiving arrived, the free 2-day shipping disappeared.

My guess is that Best Buy wanted more consumers to have the urge to come in-store- if free 2-day shipping was offered, consumers would have less incentive to come to the store to purchase in person, as it wouldn’t take much longer for the consumer to receive the item.

Another reason is likely  because 2-day shipping would be much harder, being that Thanksgiving is a day where shipping doesn’t occur, plus Black Friday is quite busy and stressful for shipping, so 2-day shipping would be much harder, and to do it for free would be likely impossible.

Just some observations on Black Friday – what do you think?  What deals or observations have you seen in-store or online?

I may have more observations and/or thoughts later tonight or this weekend- stay tuned! Until then, good luck finding the best deals possible!


Why ecommerce and mcommerce are important in the holiday season (Part 2)

Hope you are enjoying Thanksgiving and have had a great Thanksgiving meal (I know I did! :-)!

A few observations from this Thanksgiving (and from earlier in the week) when it comes to specific retailers and their sales/policies:

Best Buy: Had the iPad Mini 4 for $125 off (all versions- 16, 32, 64, 128 GB) from Monday through Wednesday, then had the IPad Air 2 for $125 off (all versions- 16, 32, 64, 128 GB) on Thanksgiving.  (Note that Best Buy had the iPad Air 2 for $75 off this past weekend).  Thus, they were the same price, yet, the iPad Mini 4 only sold out of all versions at that discount very early this morning (about 12 AM ET, with the 128 GB Gold being the last one to become either “Check Stores” or “Sold Out.”)

However, the iPad Air 2, only at a $125 discount since about 1 AM ET, has sold out in all versions.  Just before 5 PM ET, the 128GB Space Gray and the 32GB Space Gray were still available, but the 128GB version became “Check Stores” instead of “Add to Cart” about 5:15 PM ET, while the 32GB Space Gray just became that since the time I went to eat dinner in the 5-6 PM hour.

Thus, you can see how the iPad Air 2 at $224.99, $274.99, $324.99, and $374.99 sold out much quicker than the iPad Mini 4 at the respective same prices.  (Note that the Mini 4 128 GB version are back in stock at their usual price of $499.99; the 32 GB Silver version being available for $399.99 – its usual price – but only by “Checking Stores” – this seems to indicate that there was a certain allotment of iPad Mini 4s at the respective price of $374.99, being that I mentioned that the 128GB versions did all sell out by very early this morning.  Thus, it will be interesting to see what occurs the rest of this holiday season in terms of both when Best Buy has iPad Air 2s and Mini 4s at sale prices and if those sale prices are as low as $125 off the normal prices or only $75 off the normal prices).

Reportedly, Target had the 128GB Silver iPad Air 2 for something like $379.99 early this week, plus a 10% off TECH coupon code, but it was reportedly out.  The other colors in the 128GB version, plus the 32GB version in all three colors (Silver, Gold, Space Gray), were all there, able to use the 10% TECH coupon code, but not the 128GB version.

Then, as of Wednesday, the 10% code was gone.  As of Thanksgiving, all versions – including the missing 128GB silver version – were in stock at full price ($499.99 for the 128GB version), with NO coupon code whatsoever.

Thus, scarcity is being used to encourage purchasing right at that exact moment, a major key in digital marketing, ecommerce, and mcommerce.  It’s often difficult to convince a consumer to buy, especially without a salesperson there to answer his/her questions, but giving the scarcity of only so many items in stock at a specific price is often enough impetus for a consumer interested in such an item to purchase right then and there or to potentially miss his/her opportunity to get that item at the lowest price possible.

In an upcoming post- likely on Friday – a retailer that still charges an in-store pickup fee in 2016. Yes, unbelievable as that may sound, there is still at least one retailer that does.  I will mention who that is and why that is likely not helping business in an upcoming post.

Until my next post, enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!


Why ecommerce & mcommerce are important in holiday season (Part 1)

I hope all of you are having a great Thanksgiving!

I know it has been a while since I last wrote; this has been due to multiple circumstances and situations, both regarding family and business. My sincere apologies for this: I hope to write much more regularly for this blog in the near future, including this upcoming holiday weekend.

The theme for this weekend’s blog posts will be why ecommerce and mcommerce are important in this hoilday season.  I will expand on this further in a blog post tonight.

For now, I will say that an ecommerce site that is mobile-friendly (making it a mcommerce site as well) is essential for every retailer and industry doing business today.  Why?  The key reason is because, there is a dilemma over whether retailers should be open on Thanksgiving.

While there are notable retailers still open on Thanksgiving this year, including

Best Buy





There are other notable retailers that are not open on Thanksgiving this year, including

Jo-Ann Fabrics


TJ-Maxx/Marshall’s/Home Goods (all owned by TJX Brands)

Even the retailers that are open this year didn’t open earlier as they have over the past few holiday seasons.  The earliest any of them are opening is JC Penney at 3 PM ET, with retailers like Best Buy and Toys R Us opening at 5 PM ET, then ones like Target and Walmart opening at 6 PM ET (and staying open throughout the night into Black Friday).

Thus, the trend where retailers were determined to be open on Thanksgiving has died down to the point where only the most prominent retailers are opening on Thanksgiving, whereas others have decided to remain closed, give their employees the holiday off, and reopen on Black Friday (often as early as 12 AM ET, and certainly no later than 5-6 AM ET, much earlier than usual opening hours).

But, what must be realized nowadays is that if you have an ecommerce site (and especially an mcommerce site) in today’s digital age, you are NEVER really closed, even if your brick-and-mortar stores are closed.

In fact, on my Twitter feed @jchengery about four years ago, I advocated that retailers would be better off staying closed on Thanskgiving and allowing their websites to operate as normal and get the sales that can be had just as easily (if not easier) than people going to the store and picking up items.

Yes, there are about 29 million people estimated to shop at the stores on Thanksgiving, and while that certainly sounds like a lot, that is still a very small percentage of the overall American population.  And, while some will say that retailers who choose to remain closed while competitors are open on Thanksgiving are under pressure to choose to be open as well, if they have a capable ecommerce site and the infrastructure to handle orders, then the advantage those competitors get from being open is mitigated to a large degree.

Sure, some competitors may benefit from those consumers who want their purchase right now, but if retailers who have capable sites offer special pricing, special add-ins, and/or special discounts/perks, it’s likely that many of those consumers will be willing to wait for their packages for a bit, being especially that we are still a month away from Christmas Eve.

Before the advent of the Internet age and the rise of ecommerce and mcommerce, yes, retailers who went outside the norm of what their competitors were doing would often be at a disadvantage, but that is no longer the case with a capable ecommerce site that can handle mobile ordering as well, something that is clearly on the rise in 2016.

I will have more to say on this topic in the coming posts, along with some observations I’ve seen in regards to retailers and their sales this Thanksgiving holiday- stay tuned!

Again, I wish you and yours a very Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous Thanksgiving!