Here are the holiday trends to watch for retailers —and 3 ways your brick-and-mortar store can compete with the online mega morphs.
It’s beginning to look a lot like holiday shopping season, even if the five-and-ten is festooned with skeletons and spiderwebs rather than candy canes and silver lanes. According to a report by the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales will increase approximately 4.1% this year—up from 3.5% in 2014—which represents the biggest annual growth since 2011. Although these statistics are certainly encouraging, retailers must be prepared to tackle new challenges. As the digital landscape evolves and the variety of communication tools increases, retailers should focus on bold merchandising and unique product choices that reach across all channels.
Shoppers are flocking to independent shops for unique products more than ever before, and mastering “omni-commerce” even in a small way will give your business the edge. Here are three holiday trends to watch for retailers to help you compete online:
1. Start Early.
Based on Google data and research from the 2014 season, holiday shopping began long before Black Friday: 48% of shoppers said they did the majority of their holiday shopping on or before Cyber Monday, and a quarter of them said they had done some before Halloween. 78% of shoppers spent time researching products on the net before they made any purchases. Additionally consumers are more in-tune than ever with small shops and businesses, as evidenced by the popularity of Small Business Saturday which takes place on November 28.
In 2014, 40% of holiday shopping occurred online—and 53% of those shoppers used a smartphone or tablet, so make sure your site is mobile-friendly (or, as we say in the trade, “responsive). YouTube was a particular favorite for those who preferred to check out videos, reviews, and ratings from peers —i.e., “people like me”— instead of relying on experts’ opinions.
“41% of shoppers purchased from a new retailer, up significantly from 2013.” (Think with Google 2015 Report)
3. Seal The Deal.
Consumers are open to, and even demanding change: 41% of shoppers purchased from a new retailer in 2014. So how can independent retailers get a leg up? First, they want to connect their in-store and e-commerce experiences for their customers. Next they want to, make sure their product selections are unique, carefully curated product bundles that offer high-margin products. If implemented correctly, a smart omni-channel-plus-product strategy can generate cross-sells and up-sells while also building brand loyalty. In the age of Amazon and Etsy, what could be better than the options for in-store pickup and return anywhere? Even better, people are clamoring to support creative, smart, local businesses – why not make it easier for them?
The Economic Impact
Consider The Facts: retail is the largest private employer in the United States, but a whopping 99% of retail businesses still employ fewer than 50 people. Despite the surge of competition from online superstores—with cyber deals and hassle-free delivery—independent retailers continue to thrive. By concentrating on the customer experience as a whole—from online research, to purchase, to potential return—independent retailers can steal the spotlight and stay ahead of the game.