Holiday Trends in Retail: Focus on Customer Experience
By Tom O'Reilly / October 2016Insights
By now, the majority of retailers have their 2016 Holiday campaigns and promotions set to launch in just a few short weeks – many before Halloween. As the busiest shopping days of the year, retailers count on the holiday season to boost sales enough to achieve or even exceed annual business goals.
For 2016, eMarketer predicts the total retail holiday season sales will only increase 1.8% from 2015. Savvy retailers will ensure a remarkable shopping experience during the holidays plus lay the groundwork for enhancing loyalty into 2017 and for years to come.
Signal, a data collection, identification and media activation software, outlined three ways retailers can ensure a successful holiday season.
1. More Personalized Shopping
Although the overall 2016 holiday retail sales will increase only slightly, e-commerce retail sales are projected to grow 13.3% this year. In addition, research from BloomReach Corp. says 47% of U.S. consumers planned to visit Amazon for at least half of their holiday shopping lists in 2015. Retailers must pay attention to their digital strategies and emulate ecommerce leaders like Amazon and Zappos.
Consumers now expect that they will be recognized when browsing across channels and devices. Recognizing return visitors and offering tailored recommendations, cross-sell and upsell opportunities based on past purchases and online shopping lists will go a long way to generating loyalty. Customers want a personalized and consistent shopping experience regardless of how they choose to visit retailers – whether on mobile, tablet, laptop or in-store.
2. Remarkable Retail Experiences
People expect more during the holiday season – especially in-store – from lights, decorations and music to extra staff, longer business hours and special touches that create memorable experiences.
The holidays are the ideal time for retailers to make a lasting impression, invite new shoppers to try and buy, and enhance loyalty with current customers.
Oracle Marketing Cloud and Edison Research conducted a holiday research study and found that shoppers consider these factors to be most important for the instore holiday shopping experience:
Source: Oracle Marketing Cloud & Edison Research
These results indicate that while sales may drive traffic, and cleanliness plus crowd control are part of the overall experience, inventory and merchandising are even more critical. Retailers should focus first on ensuring ample inventory on sale items, along with the quality of those items.
3. Simplify & Speed Shopping
The goal of holiday shoppers is to check off their gift lists as quickly as possible. Retailers focusing on convenience will earn more loyalty and sales. By spotlighting sale items, providing easy navigation and signage, retailers can shave minutes off online and traditional shopping trips.
Customers are demanding frictionless shopping, a seamless experience with various purchase options. According to a Google Consumer Survey, nearly 7 in 10 people say it is important for retailers to offer multiple ways to buy a product. Blending the best of digital and in-store allows purchasing items online and then pickup in-store, same-day delivery and ship from store.
For ecommerce, Google says free shipping was the promotion that shoppers used most last holiday season – even more than coupons and discounts.
The National Retail Federation says holiday revenue can account for as much as 20-40% of retailers’ annual sales. But it’s important for retailers to have a long-range view of instilling brand loyalty now – not just sales for this year’s holiday season.
Tom O’Reilly – President and CEO, Aptaris. Tom has a deep understanding of the retail business from both the store and vendor perspectives. He brings decades of hands-on experience in advertising and promotions including new media innovations. As an entrepreneur, he has transformed each organization he has worked with. Tom is a forward-thinking leader with a history of driving innovation, growth and profitability. As an avid reader, Tom is always enthusiastically sharing cutting-edge ideas with clients and colleagues.