The 2020 holiday season will look different from other years. Of course, none of us has a crystal ball, but the “COVID-19-effect” seems here to stay, at least for a while longer. Social distancing on Black Friday? It’s hard to picture, that’s for sure.
In a world that’s now hyper hygiene-focused, our retail landscape has changed drastically. Based on some early data and our experience in the market research industry, we’re making our best guess at what the holidays could look like for retailers this year.
If you haven’t beefed up your ecommerce presence, now is the time. Consumers are still hesitant to return to in-store shopping. And that trend isn’t likely to change anytime soon. As of August 2020, 56% of consumers reported shopping less in stores.
During March and April (the first months of the shutdown), digital commerce reached record levels, at times straining the system. That uptick in ecommerce caught many supply and delivery chains by surprise.
Now, as we head into the 2020 holidays, we have the advantage of hindsight. If you’re preparing for heavy digital traffic, try to anticipate your customer’s needs to provide a great service experience:
Rather than browse the aisles, shoppers are far more likely to order online these days. But plenty of businesses have had success with other forms of contactless sales. Retailers who smoothly transitioned to curbside pickup or home delivery saw significant gains in Q2 2020.
Salesforce predicts this trend will increase by 90% during the coming holiday shopping season. Streamline your curbside and/or delivery process now, so you’re ready to provide the holiday shopping experience today’s wary consumers need.
Brick-and-mortar stores around the country will be serving as fulfillment centers this year. So give people the option to click and collect! And don’t forget to think about signage, extra staffing, and contingency plans in the event that anyone becomes sick.
The 2020 economy isn’t all doom and gloom for retailers. Consider this: 32% of U.S. consumers shopped online with a brand they hadn’t shopped before COVID-19. That’s huge! If you can adapt and meet customers’ new COVID-era needs, you’ll gain a new batch of loyal fans.
How can you capture the loyalty of a new fan base during the 2020 holiday shopping season? Research shows consumers appreciate companies who show care and concern for their employees’ health and well-being. Shoppers want stores to enforce social distancing measures and require PPE for employees and other customers. And many prefer a user-friendly shopping app experience.
There are two major money-making “holidays” for online retailers. The first is Cyber Week, that gift-buying bonanza lasting from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. The other is the summer mega sale, Amazon Prime Day. In 2019, Prime Day sales totaled over 7 billion US dollars, a record which Cyber Monday broke later that year. Usually, retailers see Prime Day as a way to boost slow summer sales, but that won’t be the case this year.
Typically in July, Prime Day’s been moved this year, because of 2020. It looks like this year’s Prime Day will likely be October 13th. Is this good or bad for retailers? On the one hand, a late-fall Prime Day could steal sales from Cyber Week. But it also means consumers will likely start their holiday shopping earlier. A longer holiday shopping season = more potential sales overall.
During the pandemic, consumers became more mindful about their purchases. Researchers have noted a few habits signaling significant changes in consumer behavior:
Some of these habits arose due to safety concerns. But they may stick around as people grow accustomed to a new way of doing things.
This year, of all years, resolve to go above, beyond, and out of bounds with your marketing to capture the attention and loyalty of wary consumers.