Experts predict holiday spending to surge in 2021, as confident consumers splurge on holiday gifts in stores and online.
The shift to online had been growing steadily around the holidays, but COVID catapulted retail to the new digital reality overnight. With Cyber Monday expected to out outshine Black Friday by more than $2 billion in sales ($13.1 billion versus $11 billion) this year, it’s clear that omnichannel strategies will be essential for holiday retail success.
For brands that want to know how to allocate resources this holiday season, the 2020 breakdown offers some clues.
Forty five percent of Black Friday purchases were made on digital marketplaces, 23% were made on mobile devices, and 21% were through a brand’s website.
Holiday omnichannel strategies
E-commerce’s share of the holiday season is sure to increase again in 2021, compared to pre-COVID times, but retailers shouldn’t expect the same huge online boost as last year. With lockdowns lifted, shoppers are ready to return to stores. Brands must do everything in their power to combat staffing shortages to provide a positive and engaging in-store experience.
However, shoppers demand flexibility, making the omnichannel shopping experience critical this year. Shoppers expect to be able to engage, buy, and get products in their hands however works best for them.
2021 will definitely be another blockbuster year for online holiday shopping and Cyber Monday is likely to dwarf Black Friday yet again, so be ready to handle and fulfill all of those online orders.
To keep up the momentum enjoyed in 2020, brands will have to execute omnichannel strategies flawlessly. Here are four to prioritize:
- Put a priority on mobile-first experiences
- Use data insights to create personalized experiences
- Be transparent about fulfillment and delivery
- Streamline returns and empower customer service reps
Mobile-first, personalized retail experiences
Mobile must be the cornerstone of any omnichannel holiday strategy. Mobile shopping in the US was estimated to hit $284 billion in 2020 – accounting for 45% of total sales. And the amount of time that consumers worldwide are spending on mobile apps increased nearly 50% from Q1 of 2020 to Q1 2021.
Mobile will continue to be a hot channel, so plan for mobile-first experiences and promotions to encourage more “couch commerce.”
Along with mobility, consumers today expect personalization. Data is at the core of personalized retail experiences, but brands have to deliver value in exchange for the information they seek. When leveraged properly, data enables brands to deliver a personal, relevant end-to-end experience including promotions, availability, free shipping, delivery, and returns.
The endgame of acting on data at the right time and place with the right offer is increased loyalty, higher lifetime customer value, and more positive reviews.
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Omnichannel strategies: Keeping promises
Data will reign supreme this holiday season. Consumers have been bombarded with news of supply chain snags this fall. The full circle of fulfillment must be addressed now: processing, shipping, and tracking, with the help of integrated data. This will help avoid silos and align sales, supply chain, and fulfillment teams so that marketers can make transparent promises to customers that they can keep.
The data brands collect also makes omnichannel personalization possible. Retailers must understand their customers at an individual level and then deliver the experience and promotions they seek, regardless of channel. This requires data to be integrated from multiple systems based on browsing and purchase history.
But the effort is worthwhile, as brands that follow this omnichannel strategy will have a leg-up on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and beyond.
Data also helps arm customer service representatives with the information they need to get customers the right product faster. And in the event of a missing or lost package, customer service needs a window into delivery tracking and warehouse inventory to resolve the issue faster.
Lastly, returns need much more consideration this holiday season. Returns are an opportunity to grow loyalty and avoid defectors to competitors when they are done correctly. Retailers that make returns a breeze will have an additional point of differentiation against competitors.
Supply chain woes threaten to spoil the holiday shopping season with higher prices, more out-of-stock items, and delayed shipments.
It’s down to the wire for the 2021 holiday season
The brands that will win this holiday season are taking the lessons they learned last year, along with the data they’ve collected since then to provide the products and experiences their customers really want.
Despite this year being rife with supply chain issues, transparent brands will get their customers to checkout earlier and communicate any delays with them often to help the season shine brighter.