The Black Friday ads will be leaking soon and I’m sure a lot of you guys will be buying various tech stuff this season. I thought I would give some retail insights and tips to make sure you get what you want.
-Many Black Friday items are sold only on Black Friday. This would be your $200 40” tv, your $35 bluray player, etc. They are not going to be on display and were brought in only for this promotion. They usually lack features you would expect them to have (many tvs only have one HDMI input). There also likely won’t be a lot of info on them online because they are not “normal” models. In my opinion and Black Friday edition LED tv looks like garbage. Just because it says Samsung or LG doesn’t mean it’s their typical quality – they were probably not even manufactured by those companies. The more colorful the box is the crappier the tv inside it.
-Don’t wait for Friday. Outside of the above deals most great Black Friday prices are actually available starting the Sunday before. Wednesday night is a pretty good night to go because the end of the retail reporting month will likely be that weekend. For sales associates (and their managers) that means its their last chance to boost their personal numbers before they get destroyed on Friday (people aren’t there at 4am to buy an extended warranty and installation). You *might* have a better chance getting some sort of a deal if you go on Wednesday.
-Deals and price matching. The tvs are being sold at or below cost. The salespeople are in no position at any time of year to throw in the wall mount or SD card – selling these is the only way to stay afloat and that’s especially true at Christmas time. If you are buying an add on service – delivery, wall mounting, an extended warranty – you will have a lot more negotiating room. Salespeople usually have no ability to change the price on an item its completely up to their managers. And those managers are more likely to get screamed at by a district manager for marking the price of something down than they are for not selling anything at all. If they DO throw in an HDMI cord or something similar they won't give you it for free - they will take the price off of the cost of the television and charge you for the toss in item.
I don’t think any retailer offers price matching between Thanksgiving and the following Tuesday (Best Buy is probably stupid enough to do it now). I’m sure some do but that’s the exception. And if you are price matching something you have to have the EXACT same model number in most cases. Often a store like Best Buy will get their own model number of a particular tv. Instead of being the 6000 series model it will be the 6010. They are the same thing but not for price matching purposes.
-Know the retailer's distinction between shipping and delivery. This is mostly for large items like televisions, furniture, appliances, etc. Given that I have the most experience selling tvs I will use that as my example. Companies like Walmart, Best Buy, Sears, etc tend to sell two categories of products – those sold in stores & online and only those sold online.
Something sold online only is going to come from a national or regional warehouse and will likely be shipped via UPS/Fed Ex. The point an item like this sells out will be a bit more clear because there is only one inventory system to worry about. Some retailers will ship these items to local stores, others will only offer shipping to your home. This is different than if you were to go into the store and buy a tv for delivery. In that case their local delivery trucks will bring it either from a warehouse or a local store.
Something sold both online and in stores will be sourced locally. Once the regional supply chain is out of that item it will cease to be available to you. This is where it gets confusing. If the Pittsburgh area shows a certain tv model as being sold out, but Cleveland has them, you will likely not be able to order it (unless you drive to Cleveland to get it). This is because the “shipping” is done via their regional delivery drives and not a national shipping company. It can be hard to tell when an item is like this. But if the pickup option is “delivery only” or there is no place on the site to enter a store location it is likely not sold in stores.
This inventory management scheme also applies to smaller items, like a Nintendo 3DS bundle. If you go on a website and order something like that it is coming from a local store or warehouse, NOT a nationwide depot. Once your local store(s) are out, the item is gone. This complicates things because store inventories and web inventories do not update quickly enough and very often Black Friday video game bundles are gone from the stores before the website lists them as unavailable.
There are also items not stocked in stores but sold in stores. Some locations don’t carry every size of a particular model tv. Some really high end tvs are only carried in certain stores, though any can order them from the local warehouse. An item like this that you buy on line will either be shipped to a store for you to pick up (free) or you will have to pay the standard delivery charge as if the store carried it.
-If you are going into a store, write down the store’s inventory catalog code for the item(s) you want. This is the store's inventory number, not the model number. If you run in somewhere and say “I want the $99 camera from the ad” the associate will likely not know exactly what you’re talking about. But if you have the exact number they need to punch in on hand you will be checked out much faster.
-Write down several numbers. If you want a cheap bluray player or a tv for the kid’s room make sure to write down several catalog numbers for your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices. If they are sold out of the one you want that way you will have a better chance of getting a similar model before its gone too.
-Be careful with third party sellers. Every legacy retailer has followed the Amazon model and it’s a nightmare for most of them. You buy something on Best Buy’s website but it was sold by 1800 Cell Phones. In most of these cases the retailer has nothing to do with the transaction. You can’t use or earn reward points, you can’t return to a store - it’s just a mess. Trying to explain this to exasperated grandparents was one of the worst parts of selling electronics.
-Do your research beforehand. Don’t try asking a bunch of questions about an item you want. Salespeople, especially commissioned ones, have no interest in helping you pick out a camera with panoramic shooting. They aren’t making squat on it and its taking up a lot of their time.
-Common gift items are gone by December 10(ish). Camcorders, $100 cameras, 32" televisons, sound bars, certain tablets, and others are unavailable by the middle of the month.
Last edited by pittsoccer33
on Wed Nov 06, 2013 10:27 am, edited 2 times in total.