The holiday season has arrived. And while it’s an important time for retailers, it’s often a nightmare for consumers, with long lines wrapped around storefronts, shoppers fighting over merchandise and limited parking spots. For these reasons, consumers increasingly are avoiding brick-and-mortar stores.
What can retailers do to fight back during this make-or-break period? How can they maximize the nearly 30% of annual revenues that come in between Thanksgiving Day and the end of the year?
Salesforce commissioned its first-ever “2015 Connected Shoppers Report” to help retailers answer these difficult questions. Gathering insights from more than 2,000 consumers nationwide, the report found that retailers who embrace a complete view of the customer across every channel, empower associates with data and technology, and target consumer segments in new ways stand the best chance of succeeding this holiday season.
According to the report, more than 80% of consumers research a product prior to entering the store -- meaning that, in most cases, the consumer is on a journey. However, retailers continue to struggle with maintaining consistent experiences across their channels during these journeys. For example, in-store shoppers want store associates to know what they have previously purchased in the store or online (31%), but only 10% of them expect this to actually happen.
Shoppers clearly want a consistent, interconnected experience, whereas retailers still work in silos. Those retailers who take a complete, 360-degree view of shopper behavior -- across all channels -- will succeed during the holiday season.
Perhaps this is no surprise, but the Salesforce report also found that 48% of shoppers believe they know more about a store’s products than associates do. And 67% of them have doubts that associates are even telling the truth! This is exacerbated during the holidays, with nearly a fourth of consumers (24%) reporting they avoid stores because of seasonal employees who lack the knowledge and wherewithal to provide a positive shopping experience.
Herein lies the opportunity for retailers, however. Half of those shoppers surveyed in the report are more likely to shop a certain retailer based on the technology store associates use to assist customers. And 58% of shoppers would embrace a retailer who allows them to use their own technology, such as a smartphone, to check the inventory of a product in-store, essentially augmenting the associate’s ability to serve them. To win back shoppers during the holidays, it’s time to ditch the “big black book” of today’s deals and employee schedules, and take a closer look at arming associates with technology to enhance the shopper experience.
We all know that Millennials (ages 18-34) are digital natives who’ve been comfortable with technology from an early age. Salesforce’s report echoed this, with 61% of Millennials saying they would be willing to disclose their personal data and social media profiles to brands to get better service. And more than one-third (36%) would like retailers to know who they are when they walk into stores using location-based technologies like iBeacons or near-field communications.
Retailers would be wise to target this group of consumers, as a recent Deloitte study found they now have a trillion dollars of spending power. If retailers can better use technology to serve Millennials’ needs with personalized, 1-to-1 communications via their preferred channels, they hold the keys to increased conversion and customer satisfaction.
At the end of the day, holiday shopping doesn’t have to be about long lines and angry customers. By leveraging technology to provide better experiences for shoppers and associates alike, retailers can ultimately succeed during this busy holiday season.
Interested in learning more about holiday shoppers? Get a closer look at what consumers had to say about retail shopping during holidays now in the “2015 Connected Shoppers Report”. And to learn more about Salesforce solutions for retail, visit salesforce.com/industries/retail.