It’s the holiday season, yet something seems off. There are six trends retailers should consider to help consumers enjoy the holidays despite the pandemic.
It’s the holiday season, yet something seems … off. Sure, the streets are still decorated with twinkling lights and those who celebrate are making wish lists. Yet, the joy of the season is somewhat muted as the impact of COVID on the retail industry cannot be denied. Though a coronavirus vaccine is in sight, with the UK recently approving a COVID vaccine, holiday celebrations in the United States are still being approached with caution and in countries where cases are spiking, are being discouraged.
It comes as no surprise, then, that the retail sector has been turned on its head this holiday season. How exactly has the COVID-19 pandemic been affecting shoppers’ buying habits? Further, how can we expect which trends will be longer term and the future of retail? Read on for the answers.
COVID-19 and its Impact on Consumer Behavior
This holiday season, customers have three priorities. Forbes outlines them as follows:
1) Not only do customers want to feel safe while shopping in stores, they are also spending their money differently.
2) As physical stores experience a shortage of inventories, digital shopping continues to rise, boosting the need for ecommerce.
3) Finally, sustainability is playing a big role in purchasing consideration.
6 Trends the Retail Industry Needs to Focus On
We’re in the midst of a holiday season unlike any other. As retail chains and others are still reeling from revenue lost thanks to the pandemic, at the same time, they’re working to recover that revenue with holiday shopping. Yet, COVID-19 has accelerated trends that retail markets were already experiencing, such as customers preferring ecommerce over physically going into stores.
According to Retail-Insider, here are six trends retail stores are currently enduring:
1) Prioritizing Loyalty: It’s no surprise that customer loyalty has always been essential to do business successfully. This year, customers are less likely to take a chance on a brand they’re unfamiliar with, with reports from June 2020 showing that more than half of consumers were only shopping with their favorite brands. At the same time, they’re seeking companies that made an impact during the pandemic and contributed to the community at large in a meaningful way. This holiday season, focus messaging on appealing to loyal and retained customers. With special shopping events and discounts, you can remind loyal customers to remember your business amidst their holiday shopping.
2) Increased Budget-Consciousness: Remember, retailers aren’t the only ones who have suffered thanks to the pandemic. Global layoffs and businesses shutting down have forced consumer retail to be more financially aware than they were last year. To cope, consumers are setting goals to spend less on goods while creating emergency savings accounts – a habit that is sticking throughout holiday shopping. With consumers looking to save through opportunities like bulk discounts, retailers can promote high-value door crashers and retail sales, attracting both foot traffic and impulse purchases in the process. Don’t forget online sales, too!
3) Delivery and Pick–Up Options: while there are plenty of consumers currently taking advantage of e-commerce options, there are still many consumers who are physically going into department stores, seeking a somewhat normal shopping experience. With delivery and pick-up options, retailers can appeal to both types of shoppers. Further, touchless shopping options like self-checkouts and barcode lists will improve the shopping experience for everyone trying to get their holiday shopping while staying safe and healthy. Finally, retailers will need supply chains that can service demand swiftly while minimizing inventory investment. In turn, retailers will have to get better at predicting demand and work with shorter lead times, and also work with vendors to ship directly.
4) Increase in Home and Lifestyle Gifts: It’s logical this year that more people are spending time at home and increasing time spent on hobbies in the process. As a result, anticipate a rise in the purchase of gifts like baking tools, cookbooks, home office accessories, indoor plants, and games. If retailers choose to market home and lifestyle gifts in their marketing, it follows that they will attract more consumers this holiday season.
5) Small Gatherings and Holidays at Home: With many places going back into lockdown, another important consideration for this year is the fact that many families will be staying home or hosting smaller gatherings. While this certainly presents a challenge, it also provides an opportunity to create new traditions. Therefore, businesses should create packages and highlight items that tie into this 2020 trend. There are many opportunities to be creative; for instance, retailers can put together packages and marketing materials that highlight baked good doorstep drop-offs, Christmas movie marathons, and creating new holiday traditions together.
6) Early Shopping Season: As of the time of this writing, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have already passed. Yet, that does not mean that holiday shopping is complete; retailers just need to find new ways to reach out, be it on social media or other channels. Retailers need to ensure they’re only advertising products that are in stock, be transparent with customers on how long it will take orders to reach them, improve site speeds while also making them mobile-friendly, and use real-life photos since many customers doing online shopping won’t make it into brick-and-mortar stores. Your customers will thank you!
Retail Solutions with Stefanini
The holiday season is well underway, but Stefanini provides retail business solutions year-round. Our Digital team members are experts in Customer Experience (CX), including strategy, data, and quality User Experiences (UX) at every touchpoint. We analyze user behavior on the overarching customer journey and find new opportunities for improvement. We also have the technology to implement new UX online, on mobile, and in your traditional brick-and-mortar location.
There is no one-size-fits-all digital transformation strategy. We work with you to find the right solution for your customers and your business. In-store experiences can go digital with virtual fitting rooms using AR/VR or intelligent displays and kiosks for self-service. Our Artificial Intelligence technology can improve the digital store experience with improved customer service, personalization, and smooth payments.
Ready to learn more? Connect with us today and let’s work together on bringing your business into the post-pandemic retail landscape!