The holiday season seems to start earlier and earlier each year, but this year, the creep is even more noticeable. When Amazon shifted Prime Day from July to mid-October, other retailers followed the example and also offered strong promotions in October. Estimates show that 49% of shoppers plan to buy gifts before Halloween.
What does an earlier-start, longer holiday season mean? Here are some things that will look different this year:
People are spending more time at home than usual, so they may plan to amp up traditional fun holiday activities, like baking, gift wrapping, decorating and card sending. With travel and social gatherings limited due to the pandemic, physical gift-giving occasions will be reduced. This may mean increased shipping of gifts and more creativity around gift deliveries. Consumers are aware of pandemic-related lingering issues with product availability and delivery delays, so many will be thinking about their purchases earlier than usual. With different budgets and concerns around economic stability, some consumers may be aiming to spend less on gifts this year. But shoppers who don’t have financial concerns, or who have extra cash due to staying home instead of traveling, may embrace holiday gift giving in a bigger way than usual.
The Approach to Holiday Shopping
Many shoppers will be avoiding crowds, meaning less foot traffic in physical stores and fewer opportunities for general gift browsing. Consumers will need to be more targeted in their online searching, and they will be eager to find curated gift collections online to help them in their selections. Easy-to-navigate product catalogs and compelling online shopping experiences to meet customers where they are will be essential in attracting and winning business. In addition to price, convenience, product availability, and delivery timing will be primary factors in consumer decision making for gift purchases this year.
Increased Brand Innovation
Brands are being forced to become extremely creative to adapt iconic holiday traditions and bring holiday cheer in a virtual format. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Saks Fifth Avenue holiday window displays, tree lightings, Santa visits and more will all become online events. Expect to get lots of ideas for innovative, engaging content experiences.
eCommerce is More Important than Ever
Given the shift to online shopping, the importance of a highly branded, customized website is of the utmost importance, and the eCommerce experience needs to be frictionless. Up to 80% of items in carts are abandoned before purchase. What can you do to create an experience that makes it seamless for customers to complete purchases, while building trust in your customer relationships this holiday season?
- Communication throughout the customer journey needs to be clear and on brand. Any delays in shipping or changes in product availability should be clearly and quickly communicated.
- Contactless or touchless technology must be easy and convenient and provide the customer with confidence.
- Be prepared to scale traffic and anticipate surges.
- Ensure analytics are in place to drive quick pivoting and the building of data-driven experiences, based on what customers are connecting with.
There’s a great deal at stake. A seamless eCommerce experience, convenient and safe touchless pickup, and strong branded communication will help brands build solid customer relationships during this uncertain time. Consider how you can bring some holiday spirit to customer touchpoints. How can your brand create a lasting impression and build a foundation to keep customers coming back this holiday season and beyond?
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