U-M experts offer insight on Black Friday, cybersecurity

November 14, 2014
  • umichnews@umich.edu


With holiday shopping forecasts on the rise, University of Michigan Ross School faculty are available for interviews on what the industry will buzz about this year.

Jun Li, assistant professor of technology and operations, researches operations management and business analytics topics such as revenue management, pricing, consumer behavior, and economic and social networks. Contact: 734-763-4612, junwli@umich.edu

“Information security risk is an emerging risk that retailers and their supply chains face,” she said. “As retailers increase information transparency with their vendors to achieve better supply chain efficiency, they also expose themselves to greater risks, just like in Home Depot and Target cases. Retailers have to thoroughly evaluate such risks and come up with plans as part of their supply chain strategy.

“Consumers might seem wary, but the moment we see deals, many of us will forget about these incidences. I don’t think retailers need to be too worried about store sales in the coming holiday season.”

Puneet Manchanda is a professor of marketing. His most recent work has focused on marketing strategy problems in social media and the pharmaceutical, high-tech, gaming and insurance industries. Contact: 734-358-7168, pmanchan@umich.edu

“Cyber Monday has become more like Cyber November,” he said. “Retailers are offering online deals at the beginning of November. While a single day like Black Friday is memorable, it puts a huge strain on system—the supply chain, the human resources, even the customers. So while retailers can’t ignore Black Friday, they’re going to smooth out demand throughout the month.

“A trend I expect to see accelerate is O2O, or online to offline. That’s where consumers order online but pick up offline. This is also the year where consumers get completely comfortable purchasing on the go with mobile phones.”

Scott Rick is an assistant professor of marketing. His research focuses on understanding the emotional causes and consequences of consumer financial decision-making. Rick is particularly interested in understanding the behavior of the extremes “tightwads” and “spendthrifts.” Contact: 713-252-5654, srick@umich.edu

“The breaches highlight a tension between self-control and security,” he said. “Debit cards are more psychologically painful to use than credit cards, so debit cards are better at facilitating self-control. But credit cards provide better fraud protection than debit cards. Money stolen from an account linked to a debit card can be recovered, but it takes time. Successfully disputed credit charges can be erased right away.”

Aradhna Krishna is a professor of marketing and a pioneer in the field of sensory marketing. Her research explores ways in which a product’s look, feel, taste, sound and smell contribute to how people respond to it. Her research interests include cause marketing and corporate responsibility programs. Contact: 734-764-2322, aradhna@umich.edu

Trying to avoid Black Friday lines by shopping online doesn’t mean a trouble-free experience, she said, as some items are out of stock there as well.

“While the problems of foot traffic have been much talked about—very long lines, waiting for the fantastic-though-limited offers, accidents, and even deaths—the problems of web traffic are discussed less. Web traffic has its own problems, and a frustrating lack of control is the major theme,” she said.

“Managers can try and fix some of these problems with better-designed websites, but limited offers are designed precisely to create excitement and a rush, with the knowledge that most customers will be let down. The question is how to do it gently online and also with no physical harm offline.”

David Wooten, associate professor of marketing, has done extensive research on Black Friday shoppers. His research explores the competitive aspects and game-like characteristics of Black Friday shopping, what motivates shoppers and what it means for retailers. Contact: 734-764-1390, dbwooten@umich.edu