Black Friday lesson: Customers are in control

Stores' promotional fliers are out for the holiday sales season. Mobile chatter is in.

Smartphone-assisted shopping is changing the way consumers and companies tackle the Black Friday weekend, analysts told CNBC on Monday. Big retailers are responding by integrating in-store and online promotions in a bid to capture savvy shoppers equipped with instant access to information on the best deals.

"People are paying more attention to what other customers have to say about products and services than they do to the big campaigns of the companies themselves. It's a big game change," former Apple CEO John Sculley told "Squawk on the Street."

The ability of shoppers to check prices in stores is without question affecting the price they end up paying, said Gian Fulgoni, co-founder of Internet analysis firm ComScore. It's also putting pressure on retailers.

About 40 percent of smartphone owners say they've used their devices to find lower prices while shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, he said in an interview "Squawk Box."

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"My personal belief is pricing power has moved to the consumer in a way that we've never seen before because of their ability to quickly find the lowest price," Fulgoni said.

Wal-Mart Global E-Commerce CEO Neil Ashe told "Squawk on the Street" the line between digital and physical commerce is quickly fading away for his company. The retail giant's mix of online and in-store sales illustrate this season illustrates that point, he added.

The retailer began its Black Friday promotions with Thursday morning online deals, and then launched a one-hour guarantee in stores that evening. It will hold off some of its Cyber Monday deals to draw in shoppers who are too busy to hunt for sales during the day.

Industrywide, online sales were up 32 percent on Thanksgiving Day and 26 percent on Black Friday compared with last year, according to ComScore.

Ashe said the goal was to reach customers by programming Wal-Mart's promotions to meet their needs. The company reported that Thanksgiving was its second best online sales day after Cyber Monday 2013.

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Price is a particularly powerful motivator online at this time of year, Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn told "Squawk on the Street." He said his company does have "some margin" left after offering 30 percent of its line of pants and apparel.

Asked whether apparel companies were pulling forward sales earlier in the season, he said the whole season is becoming more promotional.

"The impact of this weekend may even be diminishing because it seems like almost every day, there's some kind of an event or offer," Dunn said.

A closely watched survey released by the National Retail Federation indicated that sales were down 11 percent between Thanksgiving and Sunday compared with last year, leading many to wonder if Black Friday is losing its significance.

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Sculley said industry watchers must begin to think less about Black Friday and more about the holidays as a two-month period when big retailers make 40 percent of their sales.

"Trying to nail it on a particular day doesn't make sense, because they're stretching the offers out over the weeks," he said.