The start of Cyber Week is less than 90 days away. Yes, less than 90 days. And, as I watch the countdown timer on my desktop tick away, retailers are busy putting the final touches on their code, stocking their customer service centers with agents ready to spread that holiday cheer, and putting the perfect twinkle in their marketing campaigns. In fact, Holiday 2019 has been on the minds of retailers since the end of 2018. So what can we expect from 2019? Let’s break down the top three trends that will dominate headlines this season:
1. In-channel buying is now the norm
Analysts and experts have been talking about it for a while, but consumers are now more connected than ever before. The reality is that 64% of customers are using multiple channels for single transactions. That translates into a lot of touches across multiple platforms and devices for one single conversion.
And it’s not just mobile and marketplaces that are leading the trend. Last year, holiday traffic to digital sites from social media channels grew by 22% year over year. This year, we expect to see even more shoppers buying in-channel, so retailers must be ready to meet their shoppers where they already are. So what does this mean for retailers? Be ready to push your brand to where your shoppers are — whether that’s social, messaging, or even gaming platforms.
2. Brick and mortar will be back in style
We’re on the brink of a retail renaissance. While mobile and digital dominated headlines last year, this year will be all about the physical store. It turns out that the store is even more important to shoppers than originally thought in previous years. When we surveyed shoppers, we discovered that every generation, including millennials and Gen Z, prefers the physical store when making a purchase. Then why are so many brick and mortar stores closing? The answer lies in experiences. Retailers that are breaking the mold of what the store experience means are excelling and thriving. American Eagle, for example, offers free in-store laundry services (among many other cool services), while their young shoppers peruse the store and hang out with their peers. The message is clear, for shoppers and retailers alike, the store is no longer just a transactional experience. Retailers who embrace that change will be rewarded.
3. Meaningful experiences will shine
Speaking of experiences, expect this holiday season to be the year of meaningful ones. Retailers that lead with meaningful values and experiences will break through the holiday noise. In our new State of the Connected Customer Report, we found that 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is AS important as its products and services. But don’t neglect your values either. About three-quarters of customers say that a company’s ethics matter more than they did last year. Retailers that succeed in creating those meaningful experiences for their shoppers will lead with relevancy and service. Marketers must focus on right time right message marketing across the channels and devices that your shopper prefers. Whether through SMS, email, or social, make sure you go into this season ready to engage your consumer on their preferred method of communication. And for customer service centers, give your shoppers multiple ways to get in touch with you. While email and phone is a must, retailers must think outside the box. For example, social messaging is a great way to provide that in-channel seamless experience. This year, get ready for shoppers to be picky about where they shop.
This year will certainly be an interesting holiday season for shoppers and retailers. Join us for our Holiday Predictions Webinar on September 17 where we will dive even deeper on this year’s projected performance.