Some pals not involved in the retail world have asked me why they call the Friday after Thanksgiving Black Friday. Our esteemed (and smart) readers all know the answer. (For those still in the dark, check out Wikipedia.)
Let’s clarify one thing: we LOVE a hot sale! We are all about selling; it’s our reason for being. In the food business, this is the most profitable time of the year. Bring’em on!
What we are not so hot about is this new trend of shopping for stuff on Thanksgiving Day. So many seem to be doing it now (in the states with no Blue Laws, of course). Many, except for our revered Nordstrom.
Our love affair with the chain began when we first blogged about them years ago. We highlighted a personal experience involving the delivery of an evening gown, expertly altered, to our very doorstep by their department manager a couple of hours before a special event.
The other custom that sometimes backfired on them but made you love them even more was their no-questions-asked return policy. We understand they even took back a few car batteries…
In short, “Nordys” gets retail, espousing the “ABCs” of customer service. According to Boston Retail Partners, these are:
- Anticipate customers’ questions before they ask.
- Be ready to offer suggestions for upsells and cross-sells.
- Create an interactive experience throughout the store.
- Deliver personalized offers and promotions.
- Execute a seamless checkout experience.
Their strong understanding of what they do and why they do it is why you won’t see any Christmas decorations or hear any carols sung in Nordstrom stores until Friday. “We just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time,” their signs and ads say.
Their web site also explains why they believe their employees should spend holidays with family. Judging from the positive comments about this on their and other news sites, consumers are on their side.
The idea they espouse of “celebrating one holiday at a time” is sound, especially when you consider that Christmas decorations as early as Halloween (even in August, in some cases!) are really an affront to our senses. As a business strategy, it also reflects a lack of imagination, and we know that to succeed at retail you need lots of imagination.
There was a time, not long ago, when only a few retailers would open at Thanksgiving. Not a great idea, but at least they were different; they stood out. Now, everyone seems to be doing it.
We all know that swimming in a sea of sameness is the death knell for retail. In fact, there is already a segmentation between customers of the lower-end, price-strategy chains (who are open on Thursday) and the service-strategy ones who don’t, and that the twain shall never meet.
Today we applaud those retailers who know how to take a stand but also how to stand out in the marketplace.