Today is “Cyber Monday” the recent years e-commerce partner (or rival) to “Black Friday.” This year, like everything else, has been different. Sales that used to be in-person have moved online, and the deals that lasted a day or two have stretched almost a month at some stores. This all to make one last push for consumerism in a year that has challenged everyone, people and businesses alike, like never before in our lifetimes. Of course, I enjoy a good deal and I appreciate the ease of an online purchase, but the experience has been numbed a bit for me after nearly all of the transactions I’ve made since March have been done this way.
I grew up anticipating the annual delivery of the JCPenney Christmas catalog just to see all of the cool products that existed, now Amazon provides that with exponentially more products in a searchable, instantaneous format. I also remember waiting in line for stores to open their doors to try to purchase a toy, and researching for days, if not weeks, to find out which store may be one to receive it. Amazon has driven us to expect that we can have most products within a day and almost anything within a week now. This expectation has now been extended to the shopping experience of all retailers, and the pandemic has forced those storefronts who hadn’t moved to an e-commerce format to provide one in short order.
As someone who thought I despised going shopping (I still might), after months of only shopping digitally I have a much higher appreciation for the in-person experience. This past week we had what was a very different Thanksgiving that involved a family Zoom call and a smaller, emptier table. Nearly everyone I talked to was operating out of a modified format. We’re entering into month 10 without trade shows and live in-person events. Virtual meetings, shopping, working, church, social gatherings, family get togethers, and on and on. We have reached Cyber Everyday. Personally, I’m having digital burnout.
As a company, we’re seeking to aid the remaining storefront retailers and restaurants with crafty ways to create a modified in-person experience that allows consumers to still shop safely and comfortably in person. That could mean a new in-store strategy, or optimizing the curbside experience. In addition to wanting all of these businesses and their suppliers to survive (including our own), it is important to me that people have some level of engagement with others they don’t know. The cyber everyday environment has allowed for increased (perceived at least) division that can be remedied by people interacting, even if that interaction is just picking up a box of products from a curbside pick-up tent.
We’re thankful to still be open and able to help the other businesses that are making it. I’m looking forward to getting to the other side of this and enjoying in-person experiences. Until then, we can make the most of the hybrid approaches offered. As you look at the cyber deals today, join me in considering which stores you want to be around after the pandemic and see if you can support them!