The holiday shopping season is in full swing and retailers are paying close attention to every new report on what consumers are or aren’t doing, what they’re buying, and what they’re spending these few final weeks of 2016. Here are three holiday shopping trends that are getting attention and how technology can help retailers turn them into great customer experiences.
- Shoppers Taking “Treat Yourself” Seriously
Among the biggest holiday shopping trends this season is shoppers buying goodies for themselves in addition to snapping up gifts for the folks on their lists. After restrained spending this year, largely due to national preoccupation with the presidential election, many shoppers are unleashing pent-up demand for new goods, duds, and other indulgences.To take advantage of this enthusiasm to shop, retailers must put their data to work and leverage their knowledge of customers to create enticing personalized experiences and offers — and to optimize them for the devices customers are using to shop. Adobe reports conversion rates on mobile devices increased significantly on Black Friday: smartphones at 2.4% conversion, tablets at 4.6% and desktops at 5.5% (compared to holiday averages of 1.3%, 2.9% and 3.2%, respectively). A well-timed, well-crafted offer pushed to a shopper’s smartphone via location-based technology could make the difference between browsing and buying. Not only are mobile offers convenient — available to redeem when a shopper is in store and primed to purchase — but they are also motivating for discount-hungry consumers who don’t want to miss out on a great deal. Millennials in particular rely on digital channels, especially mobile, to search for deals even as more than half (57.5%) of these consumers say they’ll expand their budgets this holiday season.
- Integrate to Innovate
The 2016 Lending Tree U.S. Holiday Shopping Survey reported on Nov. 28 that 21.1% of consumers said they planned to shop less in stores in favor of buying online. Indeed, the National Retail Federation’s annual Thanksgiving weekend survey confirms this holiday shopping trend, finding that 44% of respondents shopped online, edging out the 40% who said they went to physical stores.With many consumers preferring to skip the crowds in department stores and shopping centers, retailers should embrace technology integration and strategies that can motivate shoppers to make a store visit. Buy Online, Pickup in Store (BOPIS) is seeing major traction with major retailers. While free shipping has become holiday table stakes for eCommerce, BOPIS offers the convenience of purchasing online coupled with the speed and efficiency of retrieving the product in store in as little as a few hours. What’s more, BOPIS customers often make additional purchases when picking up in store, driving incremental revenue increases.To make this possible, retailers should integrate their technology systems, from eCommerce and fulfillment to store POS, inventory and more. No customer wants to be disappointed, for example, by a cancelled order that could have been prevented with accurate, real-time inventory updates.
- When in Doubt, Give a Gift Card
Gift cards continue to be a popular choice among consumers, a holiday shopping trend that shows no sign of slowing down. Accenture research found that gift cards trail only apparel as the gift most shoppers say they’ll give this holiday, and restaurant gift cards in particular are the top choice. What’s more, 62% of shoppers said they prefer to receive gift cards versus actual presents, according to an HRC survey.Make gift card giving and receiving as easy and convenient for customers as you can — like enabling gift card purchases on your eCommerce site and allowing customers to use gift cards with mobile wallets.These holiday shopping trends are keeping retailers on their toes as consumers demand to be served in new ways. With the right approach to technology, retailers can ensure they support current shopping trends, meeting customer expectations and, possibly, building loyalty that lasts all year long.