Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Oct 31 2012 00:03:52

Beware of Targeting Storm Shoppers

By: Ina Steiner

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As EcommerceBytes reports in Tuesday's newsletter, American Apparel caught flak for running a promotion for seemingly making light of Hurricane Sandy. The promotion read, "In case you're bored during the storm, 20% off everything for the next 36 hours - offer available: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virgina, Maryland, Rhode Island - Just Enter SANDYSALE at Checkout."

The promotion was likely targeted at those who were forced to stay home - almost everything was shut down in Eastern Massachusetts where I live, but unless you lived in coastal areas, power outages were the biggest concern except for freak accidents like trees falling on cars or houses. Surely the promotion wasn't targeted at people forced to evacuate their homes.

Glam Media had no problem with the concept of storm shopping - "It's never too stormy to shop online," it blogged, and pulled together a list of "all the ways you can save while bunkering down during Hurricane Sandy." And Racked National blogged "Dealing With Sandy: 15 Sales to Shop While Weathering the Storm."

Other retailers ran storm promotions (Urban Outfitters told shoppers to use the code ALLSOGGY when checking out on Monday), but members of the Twittersphere criticized American Apparel, and bloggers and media outlets made hay. With pictures of the devastation particularly in parts of New Jersey and New York and with the death toll rising, it's easy to spark outrage.

What do you think of promotions that capitalize on current events like hurricanes? Haven't we all learned from Katrina? Or are folks on Twitter becoming too self righteous?

Update 10/31/12: Sorry I didn't make it clear, Glam Media and Racked are blogs for shoppers, they are not retailers - so some media thought it was okay to promote storm shopping.




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by: mylifeisgood This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 31 06:21:53 2012

People need to get a life. Businesses have always used current events to tied them to their sales. Its no different than Election day sales, christmas sales, or summertime sales. Not everyone is concerned about the storm.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Wed Oct 31 06:25:31 2012

I know poor taste and these ads are it.

They make eBa'al look good.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Wed Oct 31 06:31:22 2012

The term ''Fire Sale'' originated to sell items salvaged from a fire.

Bankruptcy Sale? Going out of Business Sale? Foreclosure sale?

Profit historically walks hand in hand with human misery. Sad, but true.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Wed Oct 31 07:30:45 2012

In poor taste? I don't know.

For my web store, I posted a message letting customers know that their orders might be delayed if we lose power/internet. IN ADDITION, as a ''thank you'' for their patience (and as an incentive to encourage people to buy anyway... in spite of a possible delay) my announcement also included a 10% discount coupon-code for all items.

It never occurred to me that such a thing was in bad taste, or that it might be insensitive. Instead, I only viewed it as the best way to minimize the hit that I'd take if customers decided to shop elsewhere.

Of course, I could have posted NO announcement on my web store... but then, if I'd been unable to complete orders for a week, I'd probably have MORE unhappy customers (compared to the few who may have been offended by my Hurricane Discount.)

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This user has validated their user name. by: Nan

Wed Oct 31 08:07:26 2012

The two orders that I got during the storm were from NJ and PA.  At the bottom of the payment emails  were notations that they were sent from some sort of smartphone device.  So, yeah - there are probably a lot of people evacuated, but still shopping.

I'm on the fence about whether it is in poor taste or not.  Of course I'm in the southwestern US, high and dry.  If I had just lost my home and everything in it, and somebody thought I might 'be bored during the storm' and wanted me to spend money at their store I might feel differently.

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Oct 31 10:01:50 2012

Instead of writing "In case you're bored during the storm, ...." and, instead, stated something like "For those in the path of the storm, ...." it would probably have seemed less like a joke. The fact that the sale was only available to the shoppers in the affected area, it appears that American Apparel was sincerely trying to help the victims.  

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by: Will This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 31 11:13:08 2012

@jacksparrow

Agreed, sometimes it's not what is written, but the way it is written.

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This user has validated their user name. by: eBankrupted

Wed Oct 31 15:15:04 2012

FRANKENSTORM Sized Savings!

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by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 31 17:31:04 2012

The incredible part is that there would be anyone at all who would not understand that their order was being delayed for a valid reason! That just blows my mind.

Are people really that insensitive?  Is it just on ebay?  

Have people no understanding of how things are in the world?  

''Waa, Waa, I want it and I want it now, so what if there's 6' of water in the NYC Verizon CO, and UPS and USPS are essentially out of business.''

I mean, really.  Doesn't everyone have a basic understanding of how this stuff affects people they are dealing with in affected areas?

That being said, I sold an item that was not paid for, and the ebay unpaid item assistant opened and closed the case.

The guy just called on the phone and was mad.  He's in New Jersey!  Heh.  I said, no problem, it's all automated, when you pay it will all be as if nothing happened.  He was cool after that.  He's been sitting there in the dark for days!

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 1 00:42:30 2012

I had a person after 9/11 tell me the REASON she hadn't PAID me for an item she bid on was because I live in NEW YORK and she was SURE I had been KILLED in the Trade Center collapse.  

Clever.  Too clever by half some would say.

I told her as politely as I could that this was NOT a joking matter and that my sister had been sched to have a breakfast meeting at the World Trade Center that morning.  And that my OTHER sister lived in Pittsburg--gee where did that other plane get forced down?  My good good friend was waiting at the Pentagon bus stop when the plane hit there.  So--in theory,  I could have lost ALL of them in one day.  

And--I wasn't amused.  Not to mention I live 250 miles outside of NYC!

So--people are seriously stupid.  

Yesterday we overheard a woman at our Post Office COMPLAINING that the media was giving TOO MUCH COVERAGE to the storm and that they were "Just making a big fuss over nothing".  That since WE did not get the storm (as one path had predicted) that NOTHING had happened and it was all MEDIA HYPE.  We have since heard this sort of thing several times!  

Meanwhile--My sister is sitting trapped in a 7th story apartment in Hoboken NJ.  My best friend--the same friend!-is--well,  I can't REACH him so I dunno.  Several other friends and family have gone dark.  We know of one family whose roof blew off the house in NJ.  Soooo---do I believe this is "Media Hype"?????

But the poor taste--Hurricane of a deal!!!!!!   kinda things--yeah,  that IS pooor taste.

Ebay putting this out is as much a cover their a$$ sorta thing as it is a "Nice thing to do" for the buyers and sellers.  At other times (like last years Irene disaster) they were roundly criticised at allowing Neg Feedback to STAND when it was a known FACT that sellers and buyers were affected by the storm--some items were damaged;  some post offices were underwater;  some people didn't have electricity for weeks to even notify either sellers or buyers.  And yet ebay was unrelenting.  By the time they came around on this the damage to their rep had been done.  

So---this is a decent policy and I am glad they got on it quicker this time.  Now as to DTV sending us  EMAIL messages about how to CALL them if our TV goes out---well---

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by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Fri Nov 2 01:52:59 2012

This just came in from eBay.
"Dear xxxxxx,

We're writing you, a valued eBay seller in the mid-Atlantic or northeast regions of the United States, to let you know that we will be extending some additional support during the situation created by Hurricane Sandy."

Last time I looked, I was still living on the West Coast.

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This user has validated their user name. by: eBankrupted

Mon Nov 5 23:39:18 2012

The news reports of apartment halls and stairways used as toilets prove its a great time to be overstocked on porta-potties!

A quick google search brings up Item 370615659565 - LOT OF 24 PORTA POTTIE seats for 5 GALLON BUCKETS = $239.95. Doing the math, that's less than $10 per seat, plus a new 5 Gallon $3 bucket = total cost $13. (plus liner bags optional)

Can you imagine how many of these you could sell onsite in NYC, and other areas without running water? I'd guess a 750% profit margin right now.

Brand your bucket/seat/liner combo as the Hurricane~Pottieā„¢ only $99/ea!

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by: chriscom This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Dec 3 12:23:39 2012

A larger question is how seaboard businesses plan against future flood risks. How prone is the business, or their outsourced fulfillment partners, to weather risks? For example, Karol fulfillment management made a strategic decision decades ago to anchor in a geographic location away from the Seaboard and yet in proximity to major Interstates. This decision  serves its clients well.  



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