Originally intended to get shoppers out in full-force to start the holiday shopping season, Black Friday has become a holiday unto itself, where bargain hunters shake off their turkey hangovers to wake up before dawn to chase amazing deals.
But as is the case with most activities, technology is rapidly changing the way people shop, from how stores advertise and build loyalty to how consumers find deals and a transaction ultimately happens.
Here are four ways technology is changing the biggest shopping day of the year:
Location and Check-in Promotions
While location services like Foursquare and Gowalla have made limited steps to reward badge and stamp holders with special offers, those companies — and retailers — see tying game mechanics to special offers at retail as the obvious future route to cash in on location-awareness. Foursquare is testing the waters this Black Friday with a Sports Authority partnership. Expect next year’s Black Friday to be the “year of location,” where we’ll see Thanksgiving circulars with Black Friday deals telling of special “check-in” promotions throughout the day.
Check-in deals and Black Friday could make for a powerful combo. Since the best deals on Black Friday are usually exhausted by 10 a.m., retailers could use location-deals the rest of the day to extend the excitement for the entire stretch to incentivize shoppers, in turn bringing in more revenue. Another idea would be to reward all participating in a Foursquare “shopper-mob” with an extra 10 percent off of merchandise.
Near-Field Communication/Mobile Payments
While mobile payments has long been a dream of the mobile industry (and the credit/payment industry), with smartphone platforms starting to integrate near field communication (NFC) technology on a wider scale scale, the dream is moving ever closer to reality. With NFC-enabled phones, consumers will be able to pay for potential Black Friday deals faster, and also be able to cash in on location-sensitive Groupon type deals.
Speaking of Groupon…
Since Black Friday is all about deals, there’s no more natural pairing than the biggest shopping day of the year and social/group buying. The recent excitement generated by the Nordstrom Rack Groupon promotion (which was enough to bring the retailer’s servers down) is the type of excitement (and differentiation) large retailers and product companies love on a noisy day like Black Friday. Groupon already sees the opportunity, launching Grouponicus across the country in different markets; I expect Amazon/Woot to also have some interesting Black Friday deals.
But why stop with Groupon and social buying sites? Over time, why wouldn’t general purpose social networks like Facebook enable group-buying? After all, much of the real-time conversation on days like Black Friday is around shopping, so why shouldn’t we expect Facebook to also go down this route to make a little money of the chatter?
As TVs become smart TVs, Google and others will look to enable commerce through the device itself. Imagine the potential opportunity for group-buying and deal-of-the-day offers on 10 million smart TVs with purchase/transaction capabilities. What makes Google TV so powerful is the tight integration it has with broadcast TV through input-1, meaning it could conceivably overlay calls for action with purchase/shopping capability on top of broadcast TV advertising. Sure, it’s a ways off, but the vision is a grand one. And who knows, if Google buys Groupon, we could see Groupon TV.