As someone who has worked in the Business-to-Consumer (B2C) market in Europe for the last 10 years, I have always looked at the Holiday Season in the US. The enormous sales on Amazon at Black Friday and Cyber Monday have amazed me year after year. Just imagine 158 orders per second on Cyber Monday 2010. Shipping 9 million units around the world. Truly amazing.
This year I finally had the chance to experience all this first hand. The buildup to Black Friday was great to see, with all the ads on TV. And then on Thanksgiving everything started. Most stores were closed, probably to prepare for the crazy sales that would start at 12AM. I took my kids out to a BestBuy and showed them customers waiting in line, setting up tents.
We as a family were “lucky”. My wife spilled hot tea on her laptop, which died on the spot (We should have gotten a Classmate PC with spill resistant keyboard is what I thought… 🙂 ). So we needed a new laptop. After reviewing our options and visiting the BestBuy, Fry’s and the Microsoft Store it turned out that the Microsoft Store had a great offer for an Acer laptop. This was definitely my chance and moment. My ultimate opportunity to experience Black Friday first hand.
Off course I had to have my first Thanksgiving dinner on the same evening. We had a great turkey with friends and family. Most friends of ours thought I was completely nuts to go to the mall at around 11:15PM, to score my Black Friday deal.
Getting to the mall was the first challenge. There was a huge traffic jam at the freeway exit. It took some time to find a place to park my car. When I walked into the mall it was packed with shoppers. Wow! As I approached the Microsoft store it looked like there hardly was a line. It turned out that the line went on around the corner (and another corner…).
It took me 30 minutes to get in; I had given up hope on getting my laptop. But, when I finally entered the store it turned out that there were 3 wristbands (out of 50) left for the Acer deal. Mission Accomplished!
Great to have “felt” Black Friday as it is supposed to be. Yes, I admit you have to be some sort of a geek to get out there in the middle of the night, but it turned out I wasn’t the only geek 🙂
As far as the business side of things it was interesting to see that most customers in the Microsoft Store went after the XBOX deals. It seemed that they really did not care that much about the Surface and Windows 8 laptops. As a “fan” I can tell you that Windows 8 really isn’t as much of a change as most people think. I actually believe that the operating system is an improvement. My PC is a lot faster since installing Windows 8. I have to say that I am mostly a business user, the Windows 8 interface is something I rarely see or use. But the desktop has improved a lot. Looking at what was going on in the Microsoft Store it confirmed to me that Microsoft has a hard time explaining what Windows 8 really is and why you should have it. Then again, due to economic circumstances it might as well be that most of us just use our current PC a bit longer than we used to do. Why change something that works fine. (According to this site we did however spend more than ever before, again, in 2012…)
All in all this was a great experience for me as a consumer (saved $200.00!!!) and as someone that is selling technology through various channels for the last 10 years. It also turned out that I was really lucky with how things went at the Microsoft Store, just look at what happened at a Walmart in Georgia…