Retailers Will Find Good Cheer in Spending This Holiday Season
According to the November 2015 issue of Retail News Insider, there's a whopping $630.5 billion bonanza of shopping that will occur this holiday season. When you consider nearly 80 percent of holiday shoppers surveyed by Interactions stated they plan to get gifts both in-store and online, spending will be plentiful this season.
The question for retailers will be how can they capture their share of the spending pie. The answer will be revealed by how they respond to the top trends this holiday season:
Trend No. 1: Great customer service makes up for smaller discounts and fewer fire sales
Retailers that are solely relying on heavy discounts will find that they will be eclipsed by brands that actually have smaller discounts, but couple those savings with heightened service. A better experience will get consumers to spend even when the discount is less. A lousy experience in-store, almost no matter what the discount, will have shoppers going elsewhere.
Interactions’ Retail Perceptions survey, The Holiday Shopper: Trends to Expect This Season, found that when buying gifts this season, 48 percent of holiday shoppers said they will use pre-determined shopping lists. However, 86 percent of those consumers are open to purchasing gifts not on their lists. This means retailers that can create experiences that engage consumers during the holiday shopping trips still have an opportunity to influence purchases.
Trend No. 2: Not being overly worried about being open on Thanksgiving
Retailers are finding that the strain to be open on Thanksgiving may not the best strategy. More retailers are opting to follow the example set by Costco, Nordstrom, Dillard's, TJX Stores, Pier 1, Home Depot, Lowe's, Staples, GameStop, all of which have said “no” to being open on Thanksgiving.
Trend No. 3: Trusted, reliable brands win out
Consumers are worried about where holiday products come from and how they're made. Brands that are trusted by shoppers will get the lion’s share of the holiday dollars. Providing a trustworthy experience also means offering protection from security breaches. As Interactions’ Retail Perception survey points out, 10 percent of holiday shoppers said they will only make purchases from retailers they trust. Consumers trust retailers that they know prioritize the security of their personal information. By valuing the security of your customers while continuing to connect with them through engaging in-store experiences, retailers foster customer relationships that build both trust and sales.
Trend No. 4: Mobile shopping is king
Mobile shopping keeps growing and growing. This holiday season, 49 percent of holiday shoppers surveyed said they will use a mobile device to make purchases. Retailers looking to draw in as many customers this season as possible should be ready to serve consumers a seamless, quick and easy mobile shopping experience.
Trend No. 5: Post-holiday shopping will ensue
December 26 has been predicted to be the second busiest shopping day of the year. Consumers that didn’t get what they wanted will head out in droves and make that final purchase.
Overall, sales for this holiday season will be a boon. The National Retail Federation (NRF) is forecasting November and December sales to rise 3.7 percent from 2014, which is significantly higher than the 2.5 percent year-over-year average seen over the last decade.
Complacent retailers that think the cash register is going to ring simply because they have their doors open are blindly wishing for a good holiday season. Smart retailers that will be getting the biggest piece of the holiday pie are those that offer high-quality merchandise, have splendid customer service, and engage consumers in being seasonally delighted as they open their wallets during the shopping experience.
Dr. Lance B. Eliot is global vice president of information technology at Interactions, a provider of innovative retail services and experiential marketing for retailers and brands.
Dr. Lance B. Eliot, MBA, serves as Vice President of Information Technology at Interactions, a global leader in retail solutions and experiential marketing. Dr. Eliot has over 20 years of industry experience, especially in the retail and CPG marketplace, and has served as a Chief Information Officer (CIO), along with having founded, ran, and sold several high-tech related businesses.
Acknowledged as an outstanding innovator in the retail/CPG realm, Dr. Eliot was instrumental in Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products receiving the prestigious Innovation in Information Technology award from UCLA for the proprietary state-of-the-art merchandising system that he designed and fielded with Fox, and that also earned Fox a vaunted Wal-Mart Supplier-of-the-Year award. These systems ultimately enabled Fox to boost merchandising revenues by 100 percent in only two years. He was also crucial in the design of the Taco Bell self-serve kiosks, one of the first to provide such a capability for fast-food stores and which led to technological breakthroughs that other kiosk systems subsequently now rely upon.
Known for his thought leadership in many leading areas of business technology, including mobile technology and also Business Intelligence (BI), he previously hosted the popular radio show Technotrends that was also available on American Airlines flights via their in-flight audio program.
Author of three books and over 200 articles, he has made appearances on CNN, and has been a frequent speaker at industry conferences. A former professor at the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), he founded and led an innovative research lab on Artificial Intelligence in Business. He was elected to the Board of the Southern California of the Academy of the Sciences (SCAS), and has served on the International Board of the Society for Information Management (SIM), a prestigious association of over 3,000 CIO’s/CTO’s worldwide.
He has performed extensive community service, including serving as Senior Science Adviser to the Vice Chair of the Congressional Committee on Science and Technology. He has served on the Board of the Orange County Science and Engineering Fair (OCSEF), where he is also has been a Grand Sweepstakes judge, and likewise served as a judge for the Intel International SEF. He served as the Vice Chair of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Orange County Chapter, a prestigious association of computer scientists. And, he has been an advisor to start-ups via the USC Stevens Center for Innovation and also the LaunchPad incubator and accelerator.
Dr. Eliot holds a PhD from USC, MBA, and Bachelor's in Computer Science, and earned the CDP, CCP, CSP, CDE, and CISA certifications. Born and raised in Southern California, and having traveled and lived internationally, he enjoys scuba diving, surfing, and sailing.