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Summary:

Black Friday has become a holiday unto itself, where bargain hunters shake off their turkey hangovers to wake up before dawn and chase amazing deals. But as is the case with many activities these days, technology is rapidly changing the way people shop.

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In simpler times, Black Friday existed for retailers to jump-start the holiday shopping season by getting turkey-stuffed shoppers off the couch and into stores on the day after Thanksgiving. But in today’s tough economic climate, we’ve become a nation of bargain hunters, and Black Friday has almost become a holiday in itself.

Given how important the day has become to retailers, it pays to look at how technology is changing the way consumers shop and, in particular, how Black Friday will change in coming years:

Location/Check-Ins

While Foursquare, Gowalla and other check-in services have started to reward badge and stamp holders with special offers, the offerings thus far have been meager. With Black Friday, there is huge potential for check-in and location-based offers: Imagine rewarding the mob — 100 check ins nets participants a 10 percent discount, 200 check ins gets them 20 percent off — or having time-windowed offerings to extend the buzz of Black Friday beyond the initial morning rush.

Foursquare already sees the potential for Black Friday, with its Sports Authority partnership that offers $500 gift cards to users who check in at one of the retailer’s locations. Next year, however will be the “year of the check-in” promotion for Black Friday.

Group Buying

Given that the difficulty for Black Friday advertisers is to stand out in a sea of great deals, using a deal-of-the-day offer (or a series of such offers) could be one way for retailers to differentiate. Clearly Groupon sees potential in the idea, offering its Grouponicus campaign, but that’s only the beginning. Group buying combined with national advertising could result in some very high conversion rates (the recent Nordstrom Groupon offer is an example of a group-buying combined with a strong rollout), so its likely that social shopping and group buying campaigns will likely become an integral part of many product and retail advertiser’s holiday campaigns.

TV Commerce

Online shopping has become a big part of Black Friday. And as TVs become smart TVs, why wouldn’t we expect to see  TV commerce in the not-too-distant future? Part of Google TV’s power is in the overlay capability it brings through its input-1 on top of broadcast TV, so imagine “shopping” overlays around broadcast advertising where special offers are targeted at those who can respond to a call to action right then and there.  One can imagine Black Friday becoming more of an interactive TV event where those afraid to brave the cold, early weather shop from their homes, possibly even taking advantage of group-buying (dare we say Groupon TV?).

To see more ways in which technology will change the Black Friday experience, see my Weekly Update at GigaOM Pro.

Image source: flickr user kevinspencer

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  1. Another way that I see is location-based services. This year, I used Milo to check on the instock status of a few items. I see this being really big next year, too – perhaps even services that will let you map out products you want and give you a ‘course of action’, updated as various items sell out.

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