Black Friday

Steady Yourself for the Black Friday Madness!

It’s Thanksgiving, and that means we are just a few short hours away from what is known as the Holiday or Christmas shopping season. For the next 30 days the Western world will go a little crazy looking for bargains and the hottest items to buy for themselves, loved ones, friends, and family. To steady yourself against the claustrophobic crush of shoppers at the mall, you might want to partake in a stiff adult libation. Something to steady your nerves and give you the strength you will need to fight for that big screen TV you must buy on Black Friday.

My drink of choice is Bourbon, and the classic Manhattan is always a go to staple for cooler months and the holiday season. Most bar tenders these days make their Manhattan with bourbon, but I prefer Rye. The recipe below calls for some choice ingredients, but the payoff is worth it. Especially when you have to fight the crowds, at the local mall.

The Manhattan is one of the essential classic cocktails. Usually made with Rye, many prefer it to be made with Bourbon, and some with other whiskeys like Southern Comfort (to sweet for my taste). Bitters are essential to the mix, and they come in many forms from the standard Angastora, to the hand crafted kind your local bartender might make. I tend to use Fea Brothers Ornage Bitters for a more rounded taste. Like all classic cocktails the Manhattan inspires great debates about the ingredients, and proportions needed to make the true cocktail. The recipe below is my favorite for a dry Manhattan made with premium ingredients for a smooth dry taste that is well balanced and full flavored.

Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice Stir Well (Do not shake. Shaking will bruise the booze. No one wants bruised booze). Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with Italian brandy infused cherries or a flamed orange peel.

Flaming an orange peel is simple. Cut a 3/4 inch wide by inch and half long piece of orange peel. Take out a lighter, and while holding the peel, ignite the lighter against the peel in a quick move of the wrist. You just want to heat the peel and release it’s natural oils. It’s quick, as in quickly pass the flame across the surface one time.


5 Frustrations of the Mobile Shopping Experience

Tis the season for online shopping, and this year in particular seems to have marked itself as the season for online mobile shopping. As the mobile marketplace evolves, and more and more people are using smart phones, you are now in a position to browse items, compare prices, read ratings and reviews, look for deals and more – all from their phone. As digitally savvy shoppers refine their smart phone skills, are retailers’ mobile shopping tools meeting the mark? For the most part, not really. The mobile experience is good, but in many cases it misses the mark and leaves shoppers frustrated. I for one hate the mobile Amazon app on my iPhone, and I am annoyed that I can’t switch to the standard Amazon website easily from the top of the page when I hit it.

Leo Burnett recently did a down and dirty study of online shopping experiences on Black Friday 2010. This is what they found out from the mobile shoppers they surveyed.

1. Don’t make me wait: Load time counts.  Mobile connections are still advancing, and we’re left with what can sometimes remind us of our dial-up Internet days. While much of the blame lies with a person’s connection and/or phone, there are optimizations that can be made to mobile websites and apps to speed up the user experience. For example, mobile sites should use compressed file sizes for content rendering and look to eliminate excess scripts and code. Test your mobile site and apps and look for ways to improve delays.

2. Don’t make me opt in: I just want to use your app!  These users are on the hunt and don’t want to take time to register for your database. Allow them to shop first and then opt in. The more value you can give, the more likely they’ll want to hear from you.

3. Don’t bump me from a great experience to a poor experience: Keep it streamlined.  Pushing your app shopper to a website that’s not yet optimized for mobile is going to cause an instant drop-off. If you cannot add all desired functionality into your app, ensure your website is optimized for mobile. Also, don’t limit your mobile website’s functionality. HTML 5 brings features like geo-location and offline usage to mobile websites. Take advantage of this to deliver smarter experiences that can be used just as seamlessly as an app.

4. Give me context: Be meaningful.  Shopping on Black Friday can be ruthless. When one of our shoppers caught another shopper beating her to the store’s last discounted vacuum cleaner, she felt discouraged and defeated. While the same deal rested on the store’s website, she had no way of knowing this without tracking down a busy store representative. Don’t forget to tell shoppers about your mobile shopping tools. Add in-store signage and reminders on your circulars, emails and desktop websites.

5. Let it be fun: Great experiences go a long way.  Shopping apps feel dull and boring. How do you capture the attention away from those Angry Birds? While the most successful mobile experiences are customized and utilitarian, smartphones, like iPhone and Android-powered phones, were built for experiencing music, games, hi-res photos and beautiful designs. Why not dial-up the entertainment factor of your experience? One of our shoppers wished he could hold up a sweater’s color next to a photo of his mom to help him visualize whether or not it matched her style. If Benjamin Moore can make buying paint fun, can’t we make shopping for clothes more fun?