3 Key Tips For Retailers To Prepare For The Holiday Shopping Season

The holiday season is just around the corner! Shoppers are getting ready for Black Friday, Cyber Monday (or Cyber Week), Thanksgiving and Christmas, and so should retailers.

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Since last year, online shopping has continued to grow and the role of mobile has become more and more significant along with the proliferation of new technologies in the retail landscape.

Businesses must be aware of the changes in shopper behavior in order to optimize their strategy during the busiest months of the year.

When and where are consumers going to shop? What drives their purchasing decisions? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

 

1. Online will outperform offline for the first time

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According to Deloitte’s 2017 Holiday Retail Survey51% of the budget of this year’s holiday shoppers is gonna be spent online–on desktop or laptop (36%), smartphone (10%) or tablet (5%)–, compared to 42% in-store.

This has significantly risen from last year, which already registered record sales from online channels, with Cyber Monday 2016 being the biggest day in the history of US e-commerce.

This year, online sales are forecasted to see an 18-21% increase compared to the previous year.

Does it mean that physical stores are losing importance?

2. Brick-and-mortar is not obsolete

Besides all the predictions about shoppers moving to online, the excitement of the physical store experience is still strongly appealing for Black Friday bargain hunters.

survey by Alix Partners, reveals that almost 75% of shoppers will head to the stores this holiday season. Thus, in-store experiences remain highly important, even if the shopper is just showrooming and is not going to make a purchase.

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According to Adobe Analytics, 80% of consumers say mobile experiences designed for in-store shopping would improve the overall experience. Some savvy retailers are reacting to this by creating mobile experiences that complement and extend the in-store shopping experience.

Target, for example, once crafted an in-store mobile game experience that involved a series of six mobile games for the whole family that go with Target visitors as they move through the store, discovering codes that unlock new games, levels and characters.

It provided a fun experience delivered on the shopper’s smartphone that made the holiday season more enjoyable and while raising money for a good cause – for each game played, Target donated $1 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Even the top online seller, Amazon, is not writing off stores. Amazon is opening a pop-up store in central London from November 21 to November 24 where shoppers can browse Black Friday sales items and Amazon Prime offers. It also offers tutorials from social media influencers, games to win prizes, and workshops to add engagement to the experience.

Although they will not be able to purchase anything, it provides an in-store experience that consumers are demanding, being able to access the same rich information regardless of which channel they are using.

 

3. Mobile will be king – in and out of stores

Last year, on Thanksgiving Day, 53% of purchases made came from mobile devices, accounting for nearly 70% of traffic.

In terms of revenue, mobile will still not surpass its rival channels this year. Big purchases are still being made in-store, because people still want to touch and feel the products before buying.

However, Amazon just launched a new feature called AR View for their iOS app to win over some of those store shoppers this holiday season. Using ARKit, this functionality lets users see what big items like desks and entertainment systems will look like in their home in augmented reality before buying them.

Enabling product visualization with augmented reality encourages digital shoppers to complete the purchase on the device, instead of abandoning the cart and heading to the stores.

But mobile isn’t just about the conversions. Smartphones are the most browsing-friendly devices that serve as valuable research tools both in and out of store.

Usage is so high among shoppers that it must remain a key element of retailers’ strategies. In fact, digital interactions influence 56 cents of every dollar spent inside the store.

During the holiday season, they will be using them to compare prices and products, and look up coupons for discounts. 40% of shoppers plan to use a retailer app to shop from their phones during the holiday season, and 36% will do the same using the mobile website, making it crucial for retailers to have an optimized mobile strategy.

 

The holiday season is on – are you ready?

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To wrap it up, this year, the holiday season will be highly marked by the importance of mobile, but all the other channels will be equally important. With shoppers continuously switching between digital and physical touchpoints, only those retailers who jump on the current consumer trends will be able to make the most out these holidays.

From Black Friday to the end of the Christmas shopping spree, the retailers to keep an eye on will be those who:

  • optimize their mobile apps and website, to reach the mobile-savvy shoppers, now a majority;
  • create in-store experiences using new technologies to make it more engaging and interactive; or
  • add augmented reality experiences to digital shops, to avoid losing customers who browse online and shop offline.