Retailers Take Over the Battle for TurboMan
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s holiday classic "Jingle All the Way" epitomizes the perils of holiday shopping’s past. Arnold’s character has several failed attempts to find the season’s hottest toy — TurboMan — charging from one crowded store to the next in hopes of finding the toy for his son.
If the movie were remade today, the plot line would be much different. Gone are the days of fighting crowds for the last toy (or parking spot). E-commerce is changing how people shop. As retailers eye their strategies for the next holiday season and beyond, here are four trends that cannot be ignored.
1. Black Friday is no longer a stand-alone holiday. Traditionally, Black Friday was thought of as a day of mass shopping, where shoppers lined up outside of stores in the wee hours of the morning to get the best deals. However, with the proliferation of e-commerce and its enablement of shopping anytime, anywhere, Black Friday has extended throughout entire holiday weekend. Consumers no longer feel obligated to forgo sleep and make a purchase on Black Friday.
“I don’t think the deals are really that special on Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday. So really, the shopping was done just because I had time to kill. It could’ve been any other day.” – A disheartened shopper
2. Shoppers are hooked on discounts. The Thanksgiving holiday weekend proved to be a catch-22 for retailers, as more Americans shopped this year (online or in-store), yet they spent less. The National Retail Federation released a survey that showed shoppers spent $289.19 million over the four-day weekend, compared with $299.60 million over the same period a year earlier. Feeling the pinch from showrooming — i.e., consumers who oft turn to Amazon.com and other e-commerce players for a lower price — brick-and-mortar retailers are focusing efforts on competing on price.
“I shopped because I received coupons or promo codes for 20 percent to 30 percent discounts on my entire order for things I use frequently and need.” — The pragmatic consumer
“I had this idea in mind for a month or so now, signed up online to receive the brand’s emails hoping to get a percent-off email (which I did! 10 percent off), then decided to wait until Black Friday and Cyber Monday to see if there was a better deal, which there was (buy one, get one 50 percent off) so I went ahead with my purchase using the Cyber Monday promo code." — The savvy consumer
3. If they don’t find the deals they want, they won’t buy. Shoppers rush to discounts — the NRF survey showed that 36 percent of shoppers say that all their purchases were on sale, and nearly 66 percent said most of their purchases were discounted. If shoppers don't see the deal they want, they're willing to wait to make a purchase. Today’s shoppers are smart and know they can get good deals throughout the holiday season. They know sales aren't a one-day or even a one-weekend phenomenon.
“Browsed online, waited for sale prices, then, disappointed with the actual price, I didn’t shop. I was specifically looking for major appliances. I was inundated with sale emails that didn’t show as much sale/clearance prices I expected. So I waited.” — Better-late-than-never shopper
4. Strong movement between online and in-store. While 2016 was the first time more consumers shopped online during the holiday as opposed to in-store, we're still seeing consumers move between channels. There's no linear path to purchase; consumers are being trained to look for deals online and then either make a purchase or go in-store. For example, I made a combination of purchases in-store and online. I even put items in my shopping cart, only to go in-store the very next day. Others toggled between the two, making a purchase online and then picking up in-store.
“I did look at several locations online and found that the prices were set at the same level. I skipped ordering on Amazon and opted for Home Depot because I could pick up, get it immediately and skip shipping.” — Buy online, pick up in-store consumer
We're fully immersed in an e-commerce world where shoppers are empowered and on the prowl for the best deal. The challenge for retailers is now transitioning these shoppers they have converted from prospects to customers into loyal, lifelong customers.
Holiday shopping as we used to know, love and hate is dead. Arnold could skip the brawl and order TurboMan from home without breaking a sweat. Instead, it’s retailers turn to sweat as they fight for consumers’ attention in their holiday e-commerce and brick-and-mortar brawl against category competitors and the holiday Grinch — Amazon.
Nick Godfrey is executive vice president and co-founder of Customer Portfolios, a marketing technology company offering analytics, strategy, marketing execution, creative and technology services.