The holiday season is usually the most profitable time of the year for retailers, whether online or in store. Holiday spending is expected to increase 15.1% this year, one quarter of which will be from online sales. With an increase in online sales projected for this year, it is important to realize that holiday shopping is no longer simple. Customers are more informed and connected than ever.
According to eMarketer, a leading source of consumer data, retailers need to prepare for significant shifts in consumer behavior this upcoming holiday shopping season. These emerging trends are highlighted below with examples of how retailers are engaging shoppers across online and offline channels.
More and more the total customer experience with a brand or product is dictated through multiple channels. The dominant channels to expect for this year are online, in store, and mobile. 1/3 of consumers plan to shop online and in store equally. The key to success is realizing that above all the customer experience is the most important thing and all channels must work together with cohesion to be successful.
Mobile, Mobile, Mobile
It is projected that there will be a 68% increase of mobile commerce during the holiday season this year. More and more consumers are relying on their phones to learn about products and buy products online. However, in stores retailers are also using mobile apps, coupons, maps & more. Thus integrating the physical and online customer experience. For example, the smartphone App “Swirl” has worked with Timberland and Kenneth Cole to produce mobile time sensitive offers while the customer shops in store. These offers may change based the consumers location, or previous purchasing experiences.
Stagnancy of Social Shopping
Of online holiday shopping revenues for 2012, 1-5% was from social media outlets with Facebook dominating at 34%. Customers are more likely to use social media as a place to get inspiration about products or services that they want to buy, then they move to the actual product website or physical store later. Interestingly, this past year Nordstrom chose to connect social media into physical stores by showcasing top pinned shoe options from Pintrest. Either way, it seems that consumers are more likely to use social media as an awakening rather than a destination.
Same-day Delivery is Overrated
Free shipping is still regarded as the most valued online promotion among consumers for the holidays; in fact 48.9% of people expect it. However, the speed of the delivery is not so pressing. 9% of consumers are motivated by same-day delivery as seen from 2012. This year Christmas falls on a Wednesday so the appeal may increase, but what is more important than anything is that shipping remain free for the holidays more often than not.
Physical Stores as Online Sales Storage
With the continuing rise of online shopping, companies were initially worried that physical showrooms and retail stores would die out or lose importance to the consumer. For holiday shopping, physical stores and showrooms are transforming into storage hubs for merchandise. This is especially beneficial in meeting the high-traffic of the holiday season. For example, this past year Urban Outfitters used their physical stores for online order fulfillment by creating a “Pick, Pack, and Ship” option from the in-store merchandise that they claim resulted in an extra $12M in sales.
As the number of channels exercised in consumer purchases (especially during the holiday season) expands, marketers need to constantly evolve to meet and exceed buyer demands. With these five need-to-know trends, we hope that we can all tackle this season with new insight and competitive edge.