Is Your Store Prepared for the Upcoming Holiday Season?
4 Min Read
Written by: Parcel Pending
Every year, the holidays mark the time of year when consumers become less frugal and more impulsive – but there’s never been a year quite like this. Shipping bottlenecks and other supply chain woes are hitting retailers right where it counts: inventory.
It’s because of these supply chain issues that shoppers will turn to in-store shopping to ensure they can get the decorations, supplies, and gifts they need this holiday season. While some shoppers may demand delivery or other contactless shipping methods, one question tops all others: is your store prepared?
Ongoing Impact of Supply Chain and Delivery Bottlenecks
The recent headlines showcasing ports with numerous ships waiting to dock are only the most visible signs of challenges facing the supply chain. Not so visible challenges include factory shutdowns and chip shortages1,2. Together, these strains are crippling an already brittle supply chain – and it’s expected to last well into 2022.
Families that are used to waiting till later in the shopping season to begin purchasing holiday gifts will feel the pressure. Manufacturing phases and delivery methods aren’t as fast this year as consumers are used to, and holiday shoppers should expect packages may not arrive before the holidays. Savvy shoppers will be descending on physical retail shops in hopes of finding those sought-after gifts. As a retailer, you can prepare by ensuring you have the inventory you need and that you offer the type of shopping experience shoppers are looking for, such as in-store pickup, curbside, and delivery.
Deloitte’s Vice Chairman of Retail, Rod Sides, says this year’s holiday shopping won’t wait till Black Friday and shoppers will have their lists checked off weeks earlier than in previous years3. Carriers and retailers normally wait until around the second week of November to bring on holiday staff – this jump-start on and extension of the holiday shopping season means retailers must address holiday staffing earlier, properly train staff quickly, and ensure that this year’s in-store customer experience is better than ever.
Shoppers are Ready for In-Store Experiences
Consumers are ready to ditch their couches and herald in the season with a mall visit or two. In-person shopping boosts spending, meaning impulse buying is almost a certainty, which is a 180-degree turnaround from last season when eCommerce thrived. In-store spending could grow 6.6% over 20204. This is due to the average consumer spending the last 18 months or so confined to their home, not spending as much on luxury purchases – people just want “to get out and shop” says Mastercard’s Steve Sadove. The payments company also predicts:
- 46% growth in clothing sales from November 1 through December 24, 2021, compared with the same time frame in 2020
- 59% growth in jewelry sales
- 93% growth in all other luxury purchases (excluding jewelry)
Keeping Shoppers Happy – The Retailer’s Mantra for 2021 and Beyond
The holiday shopping season can be tough for the average consumer even when there are no outside interferences, such as shipping constraints and product shortages. The demands of the 2021 season will require retailers to get creative and maintain customer satisfaction. Last year’s hard-to-find items will be near impossible this year with shipping delays adding weeks to normal delivery times. And if your shop is understaffed, long waits in-store could just exacerbate the issue and shape how consumers view your business in the future. Some options retailers can try this season include:
- Hire early – hire now
- Widening delivery windows
- Suggesting substitute items
- Offering varied pickup and delivery options
How’s Your BOPIS?
Buy Online, Pick-up In-Store (BOPIS) gained a lot of momentum during 2020 and 2021 as retailers strived to offer as many product delivery methods as possible. This year, another option retailers can add is Buy Online, Pick-up in Locker (BOPIL®). For consumers who desire a truly contactless method of retrieving their purchases, BOPIL is perfect:
- The customer places their order online, either on the website or through the mobile app. Using your real-time inventory information, your site informs customers about your store’s available pickup options.
- Your staff member picks and packs the order, delivering the merchandise into the locker. The customer receives a notification on their phone or other device stating their order is ready for pickup.
- The customer can then pick up their products anytime, at their convenience from the designated parcel locker. BOPIL order pickup typically takes less than 30 seconds.
- If a customer needs to return any portion of their purchase, these lockers also support contactless returns, which also take less than 30 seconds to complete.
- Emont, Jon. The Wall Street Journal. Covid-19 Factory Closures Prompt Some U.S. Businesses to Rethink Vietnam. (2021, September 30). https://www.wsj.com/articles/covid-19-factory-closures-prompt-some-u-s-businesses-to-rethinkvietnam-11633014618
- Thomas, Ian. CNBC. Semiconductor chip shortage could extend through 2022, Marvell CEO says. (2021, October 3). https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/03/semiconductor-chip-shortage-could-extend-through-2022-marvell-ceo.html.
- Repko, Melissa & Thomas, Lauren. CNBC. Fewer deals and shipping delays: Here are some early predictions for the holiday season. (2021, September 14). https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/14/holiday-shopping-2021-early-predictions-call-for-fewer-deals-delays.html.
- Mastercard. Good tidings for retailers: Mastercard SpendingPulse anticipates U.S. holiday retail sales to grow 7.4%* in 2021. (2021, September 13). https://www.mastercard.com/news/press/2021/september/good-tidings-for-retailers-mastercard-spendingpulse-anticipates-u-s-holiday-retail-sales-to-grow-7-4-in-2021/.