Digital Differentiation in a Holiday Shopping Season Like No Other
This shopping season will be like no other — and it will make or break retailers based on their digital capabilities. Brands that previously relied on brick-and-mortar stores with digital as a complementary channel will see a continued sales slump, while brands that have pivoted quickly to put digital as the front and center of the customer experience will emerge with greater market share than they had pre-pandemic.
The stakes have never been higher. We’ve already seen many storied brands close stores, declare bankruptcy, and many shutter permanently.
What’s behind these business decisions? Digital. In a study of more than 750 digital leaders and digital builders, 90 percent of respondents agreed that digital experiences are important to business success, and 83 percent agreed that digital is critical to driving revenue. However, there's a growing "Digital Innovation Gap" between the experiences consumers expect from brands, and the ability of brands to deliver them. Retailers that lack a strong digital foundation are crumbling under the weight of their heavy reliance on brick-and-mortar, and their builders of digital experiences are hindered by not having the right technology.
However, other brands are emerging as market leaders. Brands such as Ikea and Canadian grocery behemoth Loblaws have developed strong digital capabilities to quickly create or iterate on digital experiences. These are the emerging trends that will likely decide the winners and losers in Holiday 2020.
Make: Brands that capitalize on switchers.
Shoppers are more willing than ever to switch brands for a better customer experience — and this means digital. They might have been satisfied with their in-store experience over the last decade, but now that they’re shopping digitally, their preference is easily shifted to a brand offering a better customer experience. Now is the moment for brands to capture an outsized market share by meeting customers where they are.
Break: Broken digital infrastructure.
About a quarter of developers responsible for building and maintaining digital infrastructure say their content management systems are prone to breakage. With the wrong backend, many sites experience performance issues, which impacts the customer experience as well as search engine optimization performance. This means significant revenue lost due to site outages — or never being found by consumers in the first place.
Legacy infrastructure is a significant drag on many retailers, especially during peak times like the holidays. Digital experiences should be built on scalable platforms that can flex to accommodate sudden surges in traffic.
Make: Early, omnichannel shoppers.
A large portion of holiday shopping this year will be done early and online. Retailers need to enable their customers to shop whenever they have time, wherever is most convenient. Shoppers need to be able to easily move from desktop to tablet to phone. Retailers that provide a seamless, connected experience across all points of customer interaction, from purchase through delivery and returns, will standout with consumers. Doing this requires content throughout the customer journey across all channels.
Break: Frozen or disconnected content.
Retailers that master digital will see 2020 as an opportunity rather than a problem to be solved.
Nimble content creation and content changes will keep your digital properties fresh and inviting, giving shoppers a reason to come back each week. While they're there to do their holiday shopping, they may pick up a little something extra for themselves — if you offer the right content at the right time.
Bridget Perry is chief marketing officer of Contentful, the API-first content management platform to create, manage and publish content in any digital channel.
Bridget spent the past 20 years leading marketing at established and early-stage technology companies. Bridget led Adobe’s commercial marketing through its transition to SaaS and launch of a digital experience platform. Most recently, Bridget led Adobe’s marketing across EMEA. Bridget also held leadership roles at Microsoft across enterprise marketing, partnerships and sales. Bridget got her start in technology at a digital agency, incubating early-stage ventures and helping established brands adopt digital. Bridget holds a BA from Boston College and an MBA from Yale School of Management. Outside of work, Bridget loves spending time with her family and outdoors — running, skiing, hiking, biking and paddling.