Retailers Wielding This Secret Weapon Will Win Holiday 2019
Retailers are bracing themselves for a 2019 holiday shopping season that’s six days shorter than last year’s. What will make shoppers choose one retailer over another? How can retailers grow sales in the condensed season? And what can stretch this short shopping period into something longer and more lucrative?
The answer to each of these questions is one and the same: the physical store. We analyzed the shopping behavior of half a billion consumers as well as surveyed 10,000 global consumers to learn that the secret weapon of the 2019 holiday season will be the physical store (and its click-and-collect capabilities). Indeed, the brick-and-mortar store — lately perceived as the ball and chain of retail — will enable purchases after shipping cutoff dates and drive incremental value all season long.
Flexible fulfillment options aren’t the only function that consumers expect from stores. We see physical locations being reinvented to become a hub for discovery, fulfillment and experience.
The Real Retail Influencer: The Store as the Discovery Hub
Don’t believe the hype about store doomsday. Shoppers tell us the store is still a prime part of their holiday gift search, primarily functioning as a key discovery hub. The majority of shoppers (58 percent) report that in-store product availability will be a top factor influencing their holiday purchases (falling just behind the No. 1 driver, sales and promo codes). Shoppers also reveal that the store is an incredibly important tool in discovering and evaluating new products: 81 percent of shoppers turn to brick-and-mortar stores for this reason. Furthermore, in-store browsing frequency is increasing too, as 25 percent say that they peruse stores more often this year than last.
Click-and-Collect Services Will Yield Big Holiday ROI
So how will stores be a boon to fulfillment this holiday shopping season? The answer is click-and-collect (also known as buy online, pick up in-store, or BOPIS). With a six-day-shorter season, last-minute digital shoppers will reward retailers that offer click-and-collect to help procure gifts, despite any last-minute purchase procrastination. We predict that e-commerce sites offering click-and-collect will see 28 percent more revenue share, on average, during the last five days of the season compared to their store-owning peers that don’t offer the same service.
Click-and-collect benefits extend beyond simple order fulfillment, too. Sixty-two percent of consumers say that when they shop at a physical store, they tend to buy more than they initially intended, according to our survey.
Excellent Experiences Seal the Deal
Shopping has never been only about meeting utilitarian needs. Walking the aisles of a store is inherently social and, often, fun. This is especially true during the holidays, when those aisles are filled with magical decorations and extra cheer. Retailers offering special in-store experiences will have the edge this holiday season.
Younger consumers, particularly Gen Zers, are most likely to seek out stores that offer unique experiences. Fifty-one percent of Gen Z shoppers have visited a pop-up store, while 42 percent have participated in an experience-driven social event or demo in-store (compared to 24 percent and 25 percent of baby boomers, respectively, who have done the same). Whether it’s a Black Friday meet-and-greet with a fitness influencer at an athleisure store or a musician’s pop-up store at a mall through the month of December, expect to see retailers give consumers extra reason to browse stores with memorable holiday experiences.
Anyone studying evolving consumer preferences knows brick-and-mortar retail isn't dead. According to shopper data, it’s quite the opposite. However, only those retailers that embrace the physical store as a key part of their omnichannel strategy — across discovery, fulfillment and experience — will win the 2019 holiday shopping season. For more data on what to expect this year, check out Salesforce’s holiday insights hub and Connected Shoppers Report.
Rob Garf is vice president of industry strategy and insights at Salesforce, the world’s No. 1 CRM platform.