Price Is the Worst Reason to Buy Online (Even on Cyber Monday)

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, December 14, 2017

The days after Thanksgiving have become synonymous with holiday savings over the years — but massive sales like Cyber Monday harm consumers and businesses far more than they help.

The holiday spending season got off to a blockbuster start, as Cyber Monday 2017 notched a new record for e-commerce sales in a single day. Adobe reports that consumers spent $6.59 billion online during Cyber Monday — a 16.8% increase over 2016. Plenty of people still adore Black Friday, but the appeal of sitting at home and scoring savings easily trumps waking up at 3 a.m. to combat crazed crowds, according to research by Euclid.

This new online sales record might paint a rosy picture, but it fails to tell the full story of the ongoing sales spiral in retail. Consumers have grown accustomed to scoring deals from retailers throughout the year, developing a crippling addiction to savings. The problem? Someone can always offer something at a lower cost — even as a loss leader — and someone can always start a sale a few days sooner.



Brands are sacrificing customer loyalty by making price their only differentiator, going full-throttle in a perpetual race to the bottom. Rather than supporting stores that deliver consistent value 365 days a year, consumers are rewarding retailers that undercut their competition.

Online Sales in a Modern World

Walker reports that shoppers will care more about the customer experience than the price of goods by 2020. Then, why do consumers lose their minds and declare price as the only criterion worth consideration once Black Friday and Cyber Monday roll around?

It’s certainly fun to get a fancy toaster for cents on the dollar, but this mindset ignores a crucial point: Consumer demand drives business decisions. Shoppers go gaga for great deals, so companies offer bigger and better sales to beat out competitors.

By collectively rewarding price alone, consumers are saying the customer experience does not matter. Black Friday and Cyber Monday savings routinely begin before Thanksgiving, according to a CNBC Make It article, and the push earlier in the year shows no signs of slowing. It won’t be long before the savings bonanza begins on Halloween. Just like early Christmas decorations, this trend must be stopped before it’s too late.

Putting a Stop to the Sales Spiral

According to Accenture research, consumers prefer to do business with brands that provide personalized online experiences. If that’s true, shoppers should support those retailers all year rather than do business with companies that hock cheap laptops every November.

It’s easier than it sounds. Does the company respect consumer time by personalizing content? Shop there. Does the company respond to reviews? Shop there. Does it provide live, helpful chatbots? Shop there. Does it spam your inbox with Cyber Monday deals and force you to stay up until midnight for a chance to buy a cheap TV? Don’t shop there — even on the big deal days.

The existing retail situation is unsustainable, and a never-ending competition for the lowest prices will only benefit the Walmarts and Amazons of the world. Price can be a differentiator, but it should not be the only differentiator. Once we stop sacrificing customer service for single-day price drops, buyers and sellers alike will be able to drop the facade and build healthier, mutually beneficial relationships.

2 comments about "Price Is the Worst Reason to Buy Online (Even on Cyber Monday)".
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  1. Ronald Kurtz from American Affluence Research Center, December 14, 2017 at 11:55 a.m.

    The author makes some very good observations. To slow the "race to the bottom", brands and retailers must take the initiative to offer something meaningful to the consumer beyond low price and big discounts. As he points out, this is easier said than done, which is probably why it is not being done. 

  2. Milk Crate Mpire from Milk Crate Mpire, December 14, 2017 at 12:41 p.m.

    "Reading this article suggests that you are out of touch with the "core aka poor" consumer - the consumer that is either on a fixed income or limited descretionary income, and in some cases consumers who are buying gifts for multple people during the holiday season that they would not otherwise buy for. If you look at the state of the economy, specifically those economies in smaller cities where consumers earned income ratio is lower than the national average, you will quickly learn that more and more consumers are price shopping - and not just during the holidays, its a year round trend for these consumers.

    You have to be careful when analyzing research, sometimes there are some underlying currents that don't tell the entire story.

    Brands and retailers have been on the fore front of cheap prices for decades. For example, Samsung and Best Buy offer whats called Black Friday Specials in Best Buy stores - in this case this could be a television with high quality usually associated with Samsung, however, it may only have two HDMI inputs instead of the standard four that comes with Samsung televisions - therefore the pricing in significantly lower. That's just an example. This is an industry standard, retailers working with brands for less expensive products that they can market as Black Friday Specials.

    So I believe your article is missing the point in a couple of areas as it relates to retailers, brands and seasonal consumers. But like most research, it only focuses on certain groups and ignores the other groups."

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