Even though Halloween merchandise may still be fresh on the shelves, it seems it’s never too early to start retail holiday promotions. In its 2017 Retail Holiday Planning Playbook, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said more than half of holiday shoppers are “starting to research and plan their gifts in October or earlier — before they start committing to actual purchases.”
Holiday 2017 could be a good one for U.S. retailers as disposable income and consumer confidence are relatively strong, according to recent projections by Deloitte, as reported by CNBC. The consulting firm predicts holiday sales during the months of November to January will grow 4.5 percent this season, up from 3.6 percent growth in sales during holiday 2016. E-commerce sales are expected to grow an impressive 18 percent to 21 percent, on the heels of 14.3 percent growth in 2016.
Yet despite this apparent momentum, many retailers may be understandably anxious. Toys “R” Us recently joined the ranks of U.S. retail bankruptcies in a year that has seen unprecedented store closures across America. In the United Kingdom, holiday 2016 was the “quietest” since 1998, according to data from Ipsos Retail Performance. The findings were cited in a holiday 2016 recap by the Financial Times. The Times estimated that one-fifth of British clothes shopping is happening online and said brick-and-mortar stores face tough price pressure from newer players with less overhead. Like their counterparts around the world, high street retailers are rushing to adjust.
Rod Sides, head of Deloitte’s Retail and Distribution practice, says the ability to adapt is crucial to holiday success during this time of retail disruption. “Retailers [facing challenges] should modify their assumptions about what drives traffic, engagement and holiday sales growth, and realign around customer experience, creating relevant, emotional and inspirational connections that go beyond just product, price and assortment,” he told CNBC.
In its holiday planning playbook, the NRF recommends that retailers offer digital wish lists and customer-friendly returns policies. They also should cater to “omnishoppers,” as 75 percent of them buy something in the store and then go online to buy more, according to Retail Dive’s overview of playbook highlights.
Here are a few other strategies to help make this holiday season shiny and bright:
- Create a unified shopping experience. To do so, it’s essential to have a centralized view of real-time data so that your stores, website, associates — and shoppers! — share synchronized visibility to product availability and those special holiday promotions.
- Make it personal. Your customers want you to make their holiday shopping easy. Over half of consumers surveyed by the NRF used a retailer’s recommendations when making their shopping lists last holiday season. With advanced clienteling and customer relationship management (CRM), any retailer can make compelling, personalized product recommendations. These targeted offers can be based on individual shopper preferences, past purchases — even social media interactions with your brand.
- Put the consumer at the centre of everything. More than in Christmases past, consumers will be researching gifts and making purchases through a combination of mobile devices, PCs, apps, social media and stores. They will demand nothing less than a coherent, connected experience, regardless of which point of service they choose for browsing and buying. For this holiday season, it’s critical to have a retail solution that supports omnichannel commerce.
It’s not too late to tune up your retail technology for holiday 2017. Contact Cegid to learn how we can help you fulfil as many holiday wish lists as possible.