Notes from Australia

Black Friday bargains? Not from my business

It’s seemingly compulsory for American retailers to offer sales during the Thanksgiving weekend.

Australian consumers have long been aware of U.S. bargains to be had around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They either take advantage of the sales with the retailers that offer international shipping or use U.S. mail forwarding services such as MyUS.com and USGoBuy.

Australian retailers have woken up to the stream, if not the river, of revenue going to the U.S. in late November. In recent years, many have started to run their own promotions to coincide with Black Friday.

But I won’t be one of them. Here’s why.

No Black Friday sales: 6 reasons

Trains shoppers to expect low prices. Repeat customers purchase items on sale, which reduces my profit and eliminates their need to buy the items again or for some time.

New customers who purchase during Black Friday and Cyber Monday set expectations that the items should be priced that way at all times.

Trains shoppers to expect another sale. On my previous ecommerce site, I ran my first sale for Valentines Day 2007. I was astonished at the response. It provided a big injection of revenue. I was hooked and thought all I had to do generate more revenue was to run more sales.

I ran promotions approximately once a quarter for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Christmas.

In February 2013, one repeat customer told me that she “would wait for the next sale.”

I ran the next — and final — sale in April 2013 before Mother’s Day. Not only did she not buy, but also I had the lowest response rate ever. The lack of profit was the main reason I closed down that website two months later.

Clearance sale only. Another reason I don’t have Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales is that I have a permanent “Sale” tab on my site.

Those items are discontinued, ex-rental, end of season, or no longer fit my product range (such as the wedding market, which I no longer target). I will never offer those pieces again. I am glad to sell them at a lower price.

Unique items. Many retailers sell items that are readily available elsewhere. They compete on price, shipping, and location. A Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale reinforces the perception that those items are commodities.

But I specialize in selling and renting decorative products that are unusual, one-of-a-kind, handmade, niche, or eye-catching. They are not garden-variety décor. It is therefore difficult for shoppers to compare prices. Thus if they like the item and want to buy or rent it, they will spend the money.

Brand positioning. It takes time to position a business in the middle-to-upper end of the market. None of my high-end competitors indulge in Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. I’m following suit.

Peak entertaining season. The final quarter of the year is typically the highest in revenue for worldwide retail. It’s the “golden quarter.”

It also coincides with the peak-entertaining season in Australia as consumers purchase or rent décor for spring and summer corporate events, weddings, private parties, and Christmas.

This quarter helps me build profits and client relationships. During the fourth quarter, I set the direction for the business and identify products to offer. The last thing I need is for clients to use a Black Friday sale as their pricing expectation for 2019.

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