November 19, 2021

Black Friday: Chip Shortage Edition

by Erez Zukerman

First things first: If you came here looking for a Black Friday deal, we don’t do those. So, no coupon here. Now let’s talk about beating the rush to get some doorbusters and crazy discounts.

A few weeks ago, in the frenzied buildup to “Black Friday - Cyber Monday” (that’s “BFCM”, to those of us in the retail biz) I got an email from a software vendor, offering a discount code.

The subject line exhorted me to “Beat the rush!” and use the coupon now. For software. What rush?

Black Friday has been somewhat silly for a while now, but this year I think we’re breaking records. If you have a passing interest in consumer goods, you know we’re in the midst of a supply chain crunch (including a chip shortage) which is historic in proportion. Heck, some Teslas are shipping with no USB ports; BMW cars are losing their touch screens. Things are bonkers.

I’m not trying to bum you out; this isn’t all gloom and doom. I just find it interesting that this year in particular we have a combination of glaring supply chain shortages that are affecting consumer goods that many people want, right alongside retailers desperately trying to convince us that now is the time to buy, buy, buy.

In order to survive, any business needs to make a profit. They cannot afford to sell us something and not make enough money. That’s just basic economics — these rules do not change.

So how are businesses able to offer us these oh-so-seductive “door buster deals” every Black Friday?

They use several tricks for this, and I use the word carefully here. Here are just three of the obvious ones:

  1. They overcharge us all year round, so they can sell us something for a comparatively attractive price on Black Friday. The people who bought the thing during the rest of the year are effectively subsidizing Black Friday. The trouble with this strategy is that people aren’t dumb: They realize all they need to do is just wait around for Black Friday.
  2. Next up is the “loss leader”. This may be a genuinely good deal on a specific product, but maybe you have to go to the store in person to get it. You go there, struggle through the crush of bodies to get to the coveted “thing” (if there are still any units left — see the next trick), but then the idea is that you also leave the store with a bunch of other stuff that more than makes up for it. Those can be various addons for your purchase, or even unrelated products.
  3. A cousin of the “loss leader” is the “door buster”: With this trick, the retailer makes an extremely limited amount of units available for a great price. By the time you get there (standing in line for hours, building up your committment to make this silliness worth your while), whatever stock they had is long gone. You are determined not to leave empty handed, and so you buy something — and the business gets to see another year.

There are lots more of these, by the way: Here are 13 Ways Black Friday Retailers Trick You.

These tricks and tactics are made possible thanks to aggressive infusions of venture capital and cheap loans, which I won’t get into here. Suffice to say that ZSA is entirely bootstrapped.

Our keyboards cost the same, day in, day out, year round. They are not cheap: they are priced fairly, relative to the amount of work and craft it takes to make them, and to the amount of benefit they provide.

If you ever purchased one of our keyboards, I’m grateful for your support. Some of you got multiple boards over the years — thank you! Your support is what makes it possible for us to operate in a straightforward way, avoiding cheesy marketing tricks in a landscape that sometimes feels a bit bonkers.

Thank you for reading, and as always, email me anytime at ez@zsa.io.

Erez Zukerman

Erez Zukerman

Erez Zukerman is the CEO and Co-Founder of ZSA Technology Labs.