Holiday Shopping and Beyond: For 2019, Expect the Unexpected
The holiday season is upon us, and retailers are engaging with customers across all generations by various means. The landscape for retailers has never been more competitive, and consumers have more options than ever before. Meanwhile, the financial stakes for reaching those customers during the holiday season are high. Consider that 20 percent to 30 percent of retailers’ annual sales come during the relatively brief holiday season.
But what do retailers need to know in order to reach their customers? Here are the five biggest shopping trends that will dominate this holiday season — and what it will mean for 2020.
Promotions Are Just Not Enough
Black Friday and its younger partner Cyber Monday have made savvy, discount-driven shopping a given for customers. They're not only expecting to find perfect gifts for their loved ones, but they're also anticipating a good deal. While discounts will bring in customers, keeping them after the holiday season requires more thoughtfulness from retailers. Brands also need to consider other approaches to attract consumers, like providing them richer, personalized content and experiences as well as impressive customer service. And discounts aren’t everything. In a recent survey, 40 percent of respondents shared they would pay up to 20 percent more for an impressive customer experience.
Mobile is the Way to Go
In 2018, mobile was an incredibly popular place for consumers to quickly and easily take care of their holiday shopping, up significantly from 2017. Last year, 58 percent of consumers used mobile devices to shop online, according to Perficient Digital. Unsurprisingly, mobile will continue to dominate how customers shop. Retailers should invest in creating a “virtual store” that offers the same kind of customer service as a visit to a brick-and-mortar location, and consider leveraging technologies such as augmented reality (AR) to stand out.
Supplementing Holiday Shopping With AR
It’s easy to see why there's so much buzz around AR capabilities in retail. Consumers can get a true sense of a product’s look, feel and fit by viewing themselves wearing the item on a screen. With AR, consumers can engage with richer and more immersive content like virtual dressing rooms and capabilities that will allow them to “place” an item in their home. This year is an opportunity for retailers to begin exploring the potential value-add of using AR on their websites to surprise and delight shoppers, as this technology is only going to become more important to potential buyers in the future.
The Netflix Effect
With the rise of services such as Disney+ and Apple Arcade, consumers will be looking to gift more digital subscriptions and virtual gifts than in previous years. This means fewer boxes under the tree, but more unlimited streaming with leftover turkey and cookies. According to our recent study, 95 percent of people have at least one or two subscriptions. What better gift for a budding film buff than a few months of free access to the Criterion Collection, or FuboTV for an international sports fan?
Hope for the Mall
Despite the constant headlines about the “death of the mall” and declining store traffic, recently surveyed consumers say that in-store is still the preferred way to shop, with 75 percent stating they will shop in-store and bring purchases home, compared to 55 percent who said they will shop online and ship to their home. With the holiday season shorter than usual this year, people will be looking for the flexibility that comes with online purchase and in-store pickup. Retailers should consider the nuts-and-bolts instead of the bells-and-whistles that will get in the way of customers’ need for speedier transactions. To make sure everything goes smoothly for buy online, pick up in-store customers, use clear signage indicating how to get to a pick-up spot in-store, make the location easy to get to, position dedicated staff in-store to guide them, and offer reserved parking spots.
This is an opportunity to further engage customers, making sure that impulse gift items, cards, wrapping paper, and any other must-haves for holiday are on the customer’s pathway to the pickup spot. Even if a customer doesn’t have time to wander through your store that day, they will remember a strong customer service experience the next time they're able to take their time to peruse the racks.
What Comes Next?
A seamless experience with strong customer service is always a challenge for a retailer, and the pressure is on during the holiday season. But with those challenges come opportunities — e.g., to develop new customer relationships that will continue into 2020, as well as the opportunity to pair new technology with common-sense solutions that will put your customers’ needs first. In many ways, the challenges are the same mandate that retailers have every holiday season. Therefore, don’t be afraid to use the latest tools and techniques to delight customers.
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