It doesn’t take a genius to know that the holiday season is the Super Bowl of retail.
Retailers plan for months, evaluating the competition, sweating the details, and getting ready for kickoff — i.e., Thanksgiving weekend.
And we know why: This year, total holiday sales are estimated to be about $630.5 billion. Generally, holiday sales can contribute up to one-third of a retailer’s annual revenue.
From the convenience of Amazon.com to the prevalence of mobile phones, technology has influenced both consumers and retailers. Accustomed to the ease and speed of e-commerce, consumers expect convenience and personalization, no matter which channel they’re shopping in. And even when they’re in-store, they’re still on their mobile phones. This has introduced a new wrinkle that can prove exceptionally challenging for retailers, particularly in the holiday season.
Here are four must-dos and never-dos for physical retailers this holiday season, all based on new data from Euclid Analytics’ recent survey of 1,500 U.S. consumers.
DO maximize a home court advantage. Two-thirds of consumers surveyed said they like to go to stores because they can actually touch, see and hold the products before they buy. That’s an advantage online retailers can never replicate, particularly if brick-and-mortar retailers make the experience something special. Call it the “Score” vs. “Chore” approach. You want customers to feel excited about coming to your stores (“I get to go shopping!”) vs. going reluctantly, even grudgingly (“Ugh, I have to go shopping.”). From killer promotions you can only get by being in-store to special entertainment tailored for your target customer, get creative to capitalize on consumers’ preference to kick the tires.
DON’T underestimate the power of mobile. Our research shows that 62 percent of consumers think it’s important to have their smartphones with them as they shop. Not only that, 41 percent of shoppers spend over half the time they’re in stores on their phones. Talk about being distracted. Retailers need to reacquire that attention by offering mobile incentives. Offer promotions, coupons and freebies that come from logging on to store Wi-Fi. Make it a more tailored experience for customers, too. Take a leaf from the book of retailers like Rebecca Minkoff and others, which use mobile to text customers once a fitting room is ready, for instance.
DO give the people what they want. Consumers generally have a good idea of what will motivate them — and here’s what they’ve said they want to get on their phones while they shop in-store. About half are interested in seeing the store’s best deals, and over one-third would like quick access to loyalty programs. Also popular: inventory counts for products, a map of the store, and a personalized touch — e.g., customized recommendations based on shopping habits and preferences.
DON’T forget to be social. Next to family and friends, Facebook is the most popular way for consumers to uncover cool new products. This is an opportunity to look at your social presence with a hard lens. Do a mini audit. Are you introducing new products on your page? How often do you post? How engaged are you with customers on Facebook? Be innovative with your Facebook approach this holiday season, from the deals you offer to the tone you use when engaging with shoppers. It all should be up for evaluation and discussion.
Physical retailers have a real opportunity to maximize sales this holiday season. With smart mobile strategy and in-store experiences that truly are outstanding, the chances are very good.
Brent Franson is the CEO of Euclid Analytics, a retail analytics and omnichannel engagement company located in San Francisco.