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The Ultimate Black Friday Threat: Your Website

Plus: The Experience Stack, TikTok Enters eCommerce, Apple & Meta: The Illusion of Privacy

Aloha. In today’s issue:

  • Editorial: The Experience Stack & The Value (Or Cost) Of A Single Interaction

  • The Latest: TikTok Enters eCommerce

  • BX: Build Brand Loyalty — Not Deal Loyalty

  • MX: The Trader Joe’s Podcast: TJ’s Number One Marketing Channel

  • UX: The Ultimate Black Friday Threat: Your Own Website??

  • CX: The Chamber of Commerce On How to Improve CX With AI

  • EX: How To Empower Employees To Build Their Personal Brands

  • DX: Apple vs. Meta: The Illusion Of Privacy

Let’s get to it.

The value (or cost) of a single interaction

Everyone is after transactions, and who can blame them? It drives sales and revenue, and hopefully, profit margins.

But… transactions are the result of interactions. Interactions with your marketing, your website, your store, your products, your packaging, your team, your email sequences, and on and on.

Lose on the interactions, lose out on the transactions. It’s that simple, and that hard. Here’s Seth Godin’s take:

If an Apple upgrade breaks your phone and you switch to Android, it costs Apple more than $10,000.

If you switch supermarkets because a clerk was snide with you, it removes $50,000 from the store’s ongoing revenue.

If a kid has a lousy first grade teacher or is bullied throughout middle school, it might decrease his productivity for the rest of us by a million dollars.

Torrents are made of drips.

The short-term impact (plus or minus) of our work or our errors is dwarfed by the long-term effects. Compounded over time, little things become big things.

Seth Godin

If an interaction can be so valuable that it creates a talk trigger, to use Jay Baer’s terminology, or so costly, that it wipes out tens of thousands in future revenue, then why isn’t more thought and energy devoted to “interactions” by more companies?

And I only ask that question because I’ve had, in the past few days alone, business interactions that turned me completely off and killed any prospect of doing business with them again. And that’s not good for anybody, especially that company’s (or freelancer’s) bottom line.

The Experience Stack

Every interaction stacks on top of each other. If a critical interaction is off kilter, it will affect the entire experience.

Interactions are part of a journey, and journeys are interconnected layers that add up to the entire brand experience (BX). The BX is made up of all the other Xs:

The Experience Stack

Marketing / Media X: This includes everything from the first ad someone sees to the social media posts they interact with to your website. It's the "first impression" layer of the stack.

User X: This is all about the product or service experience. How easy is your website to navigate? How intuitive is your product? This layer is crucial for conversion and retention.

Customer X: This goes beyond just using the product; it's about the entire post-purchase experience. Think customer service, loyalty programs, and even the unboxing experience if you're a physical product.

Data X: Customers might not see this layer but they definitely feel it. It's how you use data to personalize experiences, make recommendations, and even predict needs.

Employee X: Happy employees create happy customers. This layer is about internal culture, training, and even the tools employees have to do their jobs effectively.

Each X feeds into each other. Your total experience is only as good as your weakest experience. And you can find weak links when you examine your interactions.

One of those critical interactions, particularly for eCommerce, is your search experience. If you want to know how much of a threat “search” is for your shop, please skip to the UX section of this newsletter.

These interactions mean everything for the business because each one generates an experience for someone.

The Equalizer

To keep it simple, let’s just focus on three types of emotional experiences:

  • Positive

  • Neutral

  • Negative

The Neutral Experience

The most scary experience of all is the neutral, where little to no emotion is generated. Sometimes this can be good, in the sense that your design is so invisible, that one interaction leads to the next one. Sometimes this can be bad, because a “meh” experience is least likely to generate any useful data, and then *bam*, people walk away, and you don’t know why.

  • The Silent Killer: A neutral experience is often called the "silent killer" of customer engagement. It doesn't provoke anger or delight; it just exists. And because it doesn't trigger a strong emotional response, it often goes unnoticed and unaddressed.

  • The Risk of Complacency: When experiences are neutral, there's a risk of complacency on both sides. Customers might not feel motivated to explore more of your offerings, and businesses might not feel the urgency to improve.

  • The Missed Opportunity for Branding: Every interaction is an opportunity to reinforce your brand's unique value proposition. A neutral experience is a missed opportunity to do that. It's like serving a meal that isn't bad but isn't memorable either. Sure, it fills the stomach, but it doesn't enrich the soul.

  • Data Blind Spots: Neutral experiences rarely generate data points. They don't lead to customer reviews, social media mentions, or even customer service interactions. This makes it hard to track them and even harder to improve upon them.

  • The "Meh" Factor: In a world where customer expectations are continually rising, "meh" experiences can be a brand's downfall. They open the door for competitors who offer something—anything—more engaging.

  • The Paradox of Choice: Sometimes, neutral experiences are the result of overwhelming customers with too many choices, leading to decision paralysis. The experience isn't bad; it's just... overwhelming in its mediocrity.

  • The Long-Term Impact: While one neutral experience might not be detrimental, a series of them can lead to customer churn. It's the slow drip that eventually empties the bucket.

I hope this is useful. Next week, I’ll share the BrandTouch Framework, another lens to view your interactions through. It’s something we’re purposefully building into Rep.

Got thoughts on the Experience Stack or your own tales of interaction triumphs and fails? Leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.

Now, let’s get into some headlines.

The Latest

TikTok Launches ‘Shop’ in the US

The TikTok invasion continues, and this time, they’re coming for your wallets. They tested their eCommerce feature in China, with great results.

According to the Financial Times, the in-app experience has proved lucrative for Douyin, TikTok’s sister brand in China, with a tripling of sales year on year. Insider Intelligence reports U.S. consumers spent upwards of $4 million a day on TikTok Shop in July, up from $1 million in June. TechCrunch reports that daily sales in Southeast Asia exceed $50 million.

And even Shopify has fully integrated with TikTok Shop, so you can sell there as well:

Shopify’s new integration with TikTok Shop

More on this here:

Inflation means more consumers will seek deals — especially during the holidays

A survey from Kenco found that:

As the rise in everyday costs continue to impact consumers, the majority (54%) express concerns about their ability to afford gifts. To help stretch dollars, nearly two thirds (65%) of consumers have or are planning to take advantage of a shopping holiday. In fact, 73% plan on doing 40% or more of their shopping after Thanksgiving.

Kenco Survey
Kenco Survey

And if you’re supply chains generally take a hit around peak holiday season, you might want to consider this:

Retailers should consider marketing additional sales and creating more shopping holidays to not only spread out consumer spending, but also flatten the curve of peak season logistics and its respective labor challenges. By incentivizing consumers to shop on additional days, retailers can also avoid potential shipping delays caused by high order volumes.

Jason Minghini, SVP, operations at Kenco

This type of cybercrime is on the rise — from Visa

From the article:

Retail-specific attacks on the rise

False, spoofed, or counterfeit retailers: Consumers are being targeted through websites that seem like those of legitimate retailers, established to take customers' orders, but not fulfill the goods or services ordered and instead steal customers’ payment account information.

‘Malvertising’: Some scammers are developing fake ads to try to obtain personal information. Consumers are targeted with search engine-optimized scams based on what they might be interested in legitimately purchasing.

Flash-fraud scams: Flash fraud retailers, also known as “bust-out schemes,” establish a legitimate e-commerce site and process a small number of legitimate payments to establish credibility, are also on the rise. Once a satisfactory payment processing history is established, the seller suddenly submits a large number of fraudulent transactions—often using stolen payment account data – and disappears after obtaining the funds from stolen accounts.

Free gift scams: In this scam aimed at cryptocurrency users, bad actors will offer a “free gift” through a pop-up window asking the victim to confirm the transaction. When clicked, it delivers a malicious download including a file with malicious NFT, allowing fraudsters to communicate with the victim’s digital wallet and authorize cryptocurrency transfers from the victim to the fraudster.

Just FYI, as the holiday season cometh.

Brand Experience

Build brand loyalty—not deal loyalty

From Larry Light over at Branding Strategy Insider:

This is a brand-business truth. To be considered fair value and not be perceived as cheap, brands must avoid excessive marketing communications that emphasize price as the reason to buy. Excessive emphasis on price builds deal loyalty.

Larry Light

Remember the difference between price and value. Value is perception, and price is what people pay.


  • What It Is: The monetary cost of a product or service

  • Focus: Quantitative

  • Perception: Often seen as a cost to be minimized

  • Flexibility: Generally fixed, at least in the short term

  • Example: A $50 pair of sneakers


  • What It Is: The perceived benefit and usefulness of a product or service

  • Focus: Qualitative

  • Perception: Seen as a benefit to be maximized

  • Flexibility: Highly variable, depending on individual needs and perceptions

  • Example: Remember when Payless Shoes created the fake luxury brand Palessi and sold their same shoes for outlandish prices—like $500 for those same $45 shoes? 😲

That’s the difference brand makes. Speaking of awesome brands…

Marketing Experience

Trader’s Joes number one marketing channel is….

Podcasts! Who knew? I know they have their Fearless Flyer, and admittedly, I haven’t read it much, despite LOVING them. And they continue to be one of the most beloved brands in the US.

Here’s how their latest podcast begins:

Tara: I'm Tara Miller, director of words and phrases and clauses.

Matt: And I'm Matt Sloan, the culture and innovation guy.

Tara: Hey, that's new.

Matt: It is actually, and maybe we'll get into that later, or, you know, maybe we won’t.

Spoiler alert: they never got into their unique job titles and roles, but that’s ok. But generally, they talk about their products, seasonality (lots of pumpkin-based products this fall), and a taste of their company culture. It’s brilliant, for what it is.

19 Content Ideas

I saw this LinkedIn post from Ahrefs. Great stuff here:

User Experience

The ultimate Black Friday threat — your own website?

Did you know that retailers and eCommerce stores risk losing $13.8 billion in sales due to poor search? Yikes!

According to a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers from customer experience platform Nosto, they found:

  • 77% of NA shoppers go straight to the search bar when landing on an eCommerce store

  • 84% then leave because their search experience is subpar

  • 90% of young millennials agree that a good, fast, accurate site search makes online shopping easier

  • Amongst 25–34-year-olds, 81% of them believe that site search should be quicker (against an overall average of 62% and just 52% of those who are 55+)

This is a huge opportunity for Conversational AI. More on that in the next section…

Customer Experience

How to improve CX with AI, according to the US Chamber of Commerce

You read that right. The US Chamber of Commerce has some thoughts on AI. Here are their recommendations:

  1. Use AI Chatbots

  2. Analyze Customer Sentiment

  3. Improve internal workflows for more efficient service

  4. Improve Personalization

On the first, here’s what they have to say:

AI chatbots are always available to answer customer needs, even when traditional employees have gone home for the day. AI chatbots can be hosted on popular platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Slack, and they provide the first point of contact for customer queries.

AI won’t replace us 😉

Read more here.

Employee Experience

Empower your employees to build their personal brands on LinkedIn

There’s a sneaky good book out there called: The Most Powerful Brand On Earth, The: How to Transform Teams, Empower Employees, Integrate Partners, and Mobilize Customers to Beat the Competition in Digital and Social Media

I know. It’s a long title, and yeah, it was written in 2013. But still. The ideas in it were ahead of their time.

If you’re into reading something shorter, and more recent, then Buffer has a great read on this topic as well.

Key tip: Employer branding and advocacy “programs” should feel organic, and not forced. If it becomes an “obligation” then it’s not likely to work in the long run.

Data Experience

Apple vs. Meta: The Illusion of Privacy

From my friends over at growth.design, a nice breakdown of what onboarding into Threads is going to cost you, as far as data & privacy concerns go.

A history of Google products

Whoever launched Adwords should be rich by now

That’s it for this week. Enjoy your weekend and see you next week.


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