Saturday, November 29, 2008

I understand the logic of hyping up the Black Friday sales, but isn’t there a way to keep the competitive spirit and the thrill of getting that one good deal but without risking customers and/or employees getting hurt?

Here’s how I would do it:

1. Break the Black Friday flyer into zones. Any customer that walks into the store before a given time, say 7 AM, gets to pick a fixed amount of items from each zone. For example, only one console from the consoles zone (this keeps people from buying all of the 360s or all of the Wiis in one shot). Other zones may be more liberal, say up to 5 DVDs under $5, etc.

2. Setup the line just like an airline or bank line.

3. One person, 18 or older, per household.

4. One hour before the store opens, each person in the line gets a card with the discount codes for the sale. You can’t check out without the card, and the card won’t give you the sale prices unless you stay within the quota, plus there will be non-sales caps.

5. High ticket items are claimed simply by grabbig a ticket from a table. Walk the ticket to the cashier, pay for it, then they’ll carry the item for you outside.

6. Once inside of the store, the customer is free to roam at will. After all, it is a loss leader sale, we want them to buy our overpriced crap so we can make a profit! The tickets are only used for high value items on the Black Friday sales flyer.

Early shoppers still get rewarded for being there early. Per customer caps are enforced without drama (“computer says no, I can’t sell you three Wiis”). And there’s no incentive to run around the store and getting hurt or hurting somebody else. You are still free to browse the store, but the 100 or so items in the Black Friday specials are not going to be browseable.