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Key Trends To Watch Out For The Digital First Retail Holiday Season 2020

The peak holiday season has always been an important time for retailers. Given the fact that total sales are lower throughout the non-holiday seasons, this peak holiday time comes with promising opportunities for retailers to recollect the lost revenue. After an unexpected year of events due to COVID-19, this season will look a lot different. Holiday shopping in 2020 will pose a set of unique challenges to retailers created by the global pandemic. So how do retailers keep pace with the changes?

Retailers should prepare to offer the best digital experience while managing and adjusting their operational capabilities. Continuing the major focus on health and safety, combined with budget-conscious buyers, these 2020 holidays predictions will help brands prepare for digital-first ever retail season.

Consumer Shopping Behavior Has Shifted

Ever since COVID made its way to the world, ecommerce sales spiked instantaneously as consumers shop from the safe, convenient environment of their homes. Retail outlet traffic is going to be limited because of the uncertainty of the pandemic. To compete during the busiest time of the year yet, brands need to predict customer behavior to make meaningful connections with added convenience and peace of mind.

Here are a few factors that brands should consider:

Important Trends to Watch Out for Holiday Season 2020

This unprecedented time has changed every aspect of consumer life dramatically, shifting customer behaviors and expectations, and mounting pressure on retailers to quickly adapt. To stay in the game, many retailers have adopted different approaches, prioritizing online shopping and other convenient delivery as ways to meet customer demands.

To make the most out of this unpredictable holiday shopping season, retailers need to do things differently to bring operational excellence. For example, Sabon, an International manufacturer and retailer of nature-infused bath & body products, sustained high volumes of traffic during holiday season by keeping up the maintenance and improvement of their digital sales process. By utilizing custom built integrations on Magento platform, they brought automation in new product SKUs entry and efficient product return processes without losing a single sale.

Here’s a list of key predictions for this first ever atypical holiday season.

Online Shopping Experiences Will Gain Momentum

Every year, there is steady growth in online shopping during the holiday season. But this year, the records are seeing an uptick in growth and are expected to be more significant. To little surprise, eCommerce sales have grown to a huge extent in the first six months of 2020 when compared to the last 10 years combined. That is a 41% increase from the end of 2019 until June. Additionally, a survey from daVinci Payments found that 71% of US adults do most of their holiday shopping online this year.

Key Takeaway: This upward trend signifies that there will be even more focus on eCommerce as competition starts to heat up for the holiday season. It is important to note down what consumers are looking for because this implies how they shop. For specific brands, either drive them directly to a preferred ecommerce platform or use mid-funnel prospecting (a technique used for consumers who find out items on mobile but feel more comfortable through a desktop or laptop.)

Mobile and Social Media will be gaining momentum

Mobile has become a crucial component of any B2C marketing strategy and with quarantine and stay-at-home order, that sped up its use and influence across the community. With the increasing number of people spending time online, social commerce is boosting conversions to a large extent. According to a recent study by Salesforce, 37% US adults are inclined towards mobile shopping in comparison to the previous year. In addition, 22% online users feel the same about social media platforms.

Key Takeaway: These increases in mobile engagement means retailers should embrace mobile and in-app advertising to maximize their reach. Consider developing and maintaining responsive mobile app experience for your retail store or leveraging social commerce tools such as Instagram, Facebook Shop, Jumper to provide optimal customer experience.

Changed Shopping Behavior Will Play into Products Purchased

Holiday traditions will remain but will appear in new form due to the pandemic in 2020. A recent study by Klarna shows that consumer behavior has shifted through four phases:

The stock up phase: At the beginning, consumers are very much concerned about the shelter-in-place orders.
The settle in phase: As the new normal penetrated, consumers started to spend most of the time on digital channels across devices to virtually accomplish the desired thing. For example, hanging out with friends online, shopping online, dating online, etc.

The let’s do something phase: This phase is where consumers feel extreme boredom at home. And as the summer weather kicks in, which stirred more outdoor activities.

The stimulus phase: As consumers received paychecks on a monthly basis, they were ready to spend extra cash while shopping online.

Key Takeaway: During this uncertain time, retailers are certain that consumer behavior will continue to shape based on what items are being purchased. Therefore, it is important to keep consumers' perspective in mind: how they are thinking, how their lives have been changed during COVID times. Aligning marketing messages and offers in context to the current situation will be critical this year.

Experience-driven Commerce will Pay a Huge Reward

Innovative brands are constantly looking forward to connecting with customers using both online and offline mode. For instance, a digitally native brand, ModCloth, is joining popup shops trend to create in-person experience with its customers by allowing its customers to try on apparel with the help of stylist and order products online. A popup shop refers to a temporary retail space where digitally native brands can interact in-person with current customers and connect with new prospects. In addition, trends like AR experience through phone or online popup showcasing special offers, new products or holiday gift guide can help brands to engage with customers in a more personalized manner.

Key Takeaway: Before you jump into creating unique experiences for your target persona, you must understand how your customers are navigating your website. Use site analytics to know user activities. Retailers should prepare to offer enhanced digital experience at every customer touchpoint by means of popup shops, landing pages or online checkout popups. Experience management platform leader, Sitecore, brings you the power of customer data, analytics, and marketing automation capabilities to give you a clear picture of how much traction your website and campaigns bring to your brand. Furthermore, retailers can leverage immersive technology like AR/VR to offer interactive experiences that sell.

Improved Decisions with Real-Time Insight Will Help Brands Stand Out

As we are seeing a historic shift to digital shopping this season, companies are paying attention towards real-time insights to make better informed decisions. To make sure their products are available where and when they are needed, e-commerce companies are working on forecasts and adjusting each lever of their operations to match their forecast with customer trends.

For example, Melissa Shoes, a product line of shoes bestowed with fine touch of Brazilian art & culture, leverages business intelligence tool to capture data from various departments and drive better business insights for planning and forecasting. This has enabled the brand to focus on making timely decisions based on trends and work efficiently in meeting customer needs.

Key Takeaway: Retailers should keep up with the pace of scalability required during this uncertain time. They should adopt the technology and intelligence tools like AI, Big Data Analytics to obtain the real-time insights so that they can move at the speed of the consumer trends.

Brands will Need to Exceed Customer Expectations

Indubitably, online shoppers know the ins and outs of online browsing to get to the desired items. But sometimes they have questions related to holiday shopping which come with mega discounts, offers, shipping, delivery, promo code, etc. And they expect answers in no time using the medium they prefer -email, phone, text, IM, and so on.

Key Takeaway: For retailers, it is important to touch base with customers across a variety of communication channels during holidays. Chatbots and automated messaging will help brands to respond to customer queries quickly. Also, using ML based recommendation engine will help you assist customers in getting product suggestions they are looking for.

Brands Will Use Videos to Stay Ahead of the Curve

Digitally sound shoppers are leaving traditional outreach methods. Brands are increasingly shifting to video based content to promote and build connection with the target audience. In fact, according to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research, one minute of video is equal to 1.8 million words, when it comes to reaching a massive online userbase. Moreover, a survey conducted by wyzowl finds that 68% of respondents state they learn about new products by watching short videos. Video attracts more product views, helps brands to convey compelling messages to their audience, and reveals small but critical advantage of a product.

Key Takeaway: Today, YouTube and IGTV advertising are gaining huge traction. Hence, it is safe to say that video advertising is going to stay to boost engagement and conversion during this holiday season. Retailers should produce clickable videos and place it alongside the product images. And like all content, product videos should be responsive as well.

Are you Ready for this Digital First Retail Season?

To hit this shopping season of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday with a bang during this uncertain time, online retailers need to think differently and create strategies that will convince users to shop. Start preparing your digital platforms to respond to the changing buyer behavior which is shaping the new retail normal- Ecommerce shopping, curbside shopping, and mobile shopping. Make sure all of your promotion-based campaigns and logistics planned in advance to fulfil customer orders on time. Failing to adjust all the levers of digital retail may cause you to lose your ecommerce revenue and backfire your brand.

The game is on! Seize the moment by re-visiting and re-evaluating your needs for the peak holiday season. Get in touch with us to get success with your new revenue goal.