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New Ways for Retailers to Prepare for Holiday Shopping Season

The 2018 holiday shopping season was one for the books with a five percent increase in consumer spending over 2017 and $850 billion in online and brick-and-mortar merchant sales.

In fact, in 2018 online spending grew by 19.1 percent compared to 2017 and contributed over 13 percent to total holiday sales. Adobe Analytics reports that shoppers spent $110.5 billion online, a 17.8 percent increase over the same period last year.

With the 2019 holiday shopping season fast-approaching, retailers of all sizes are looking for new ways to prepare for what is sure to be another record-breaking year. That said, we’ve put together some of the best tips and tricks to help retailers execute a seamless and profitable 2019 holiday shopping season:

Tap into the Power of Data

One of the main challenges retailers face today is lack of data. You can’t drive revenue unless you understand your customers’ shopping behaviors and that’s why data is so important. Today’s consumers expect a high level of customer service and personalization. However, retailers can’t serve up a fast, convenient and personalized omnichannel shopping experience to their customers unless they truly understand their behaviors and that is where data comes into play. One new way retailers can obtain valuable data is through our BOPIL™ (Buy Online, Pick Up in Locker) retail solutions. With BOPIL, retailers receive customized reports and obtain key information, such as the time their customers are picking up their orders, how long the orders are staying in the lockers and more. This helps retailers better maximize BOPIL and target their customers. This is vital as McKinsey & Company reports that companies that use customer data to inform their practices see 85 percent more sales and 25 percent more gross margins than those that ignore their data. Our lockers allow you to tap into your customers’ behavioral data so that you can improve key areas of customer acquisition and retention. The retail space is at its most competitive right now and retailers of all sizes need to start investing in the power of data to understand their customers and ultimately drive sales.

Get Experimental with Experiential Retail

Just as the name suggests, experiential retail means that customers are offered a unique experience, above and beyond what they might expect during a standard retail experience. There are no guidelines for experiential retail, only that companies develop an elevated sales experience. This can take many forms, including:

  • Live music in-store
  • Virtual reality experiences which allow users to engage in unique ways with products
  • Creative experiences for in-store shopping tailored to fit the brand’s identity

Through experiential retail, businesses have the opportunity to create an unforgettable customer experience and build a strong brand identity. With 28 million businesses competing for the attention of consumers, companies should be brainstorming ways to use experiential retail to set themselves apart. By adding minor alterations to the sales experience—through interactive, in-store catalogs, for example—it’s possible to create moments that will cause customers to return to your brand when faced with alternative options.

Personalization & Customer Service Reign King & Queen

Consumers expect a high level of customer service and personalization. McKinsey & Company report that personalization, such as “tailored for me” product suggestions and advice, is a key driver across online and offline channels. Additionally, 33 percent of Americans say they will think about switching companies after only one poor service experience. Meanwhile, McKinsey & Company also report that seven out of ten shoppers have spent more for the same item to purchase with a company that provides excellent service. The proof is in the pudding. Service has the most room to differentiate and the ability to delight omnichannel shoppers. The retailers outperforming in omnichannel have a better understanding of their customers’ expectations across channels, including what matters most to them.

Improve Connections with Customers

There are a number of ways for retailers to improve their connections with customers. These include digital marketing platforms such as a Magic Mirror™ and/or interactive displays that focus on select brands, special promotions and advertising. What’s great about Magic Mirror and interactive displays is that they can also be added to electronic in-store lockers to further improve customer connections. Another great tool is Augmented Reality displays that enable the consumer to interact with products. Along the same lines, Artificial Intelligence can help retailers improve their customer connections by providing a deeper understanding of their customers and insights into their needs. AI empowers retailers to boost their personalization for customers. In fact, 32 percent of retailers believe AI is the emerging technology that will have the biggest impact on the retail industry in 2019 (The 2018-2019 Retail Technology Report). Finally, retailers should not ignore the power of QR codes and geotargeting campaigns. About 1.3 billion mobile QR code coupons are estimated to have been redeemed last year, and that number is expected to rise to 5.3 billion by 2022. QR codes and geotargeting campaigns equip retailers with the data they need to personalize outreach and drive sales with customers.

Combine digital and physical in-store solutions to create a holistic omnichannel experience

According to a recent PwC Consumer Intelligence Series (CIS) survey, 75 percent of consumers want more human interaction in the future, not less. Retailers need to provide both an enhanced shopping experience via technology and human interaction. According to 2018-2019 Retail Technology Report, retailers are more likely to invest in technology that customers can interact with — both in-store and online — during their purchase journeys than they are back-end solutions that operate in “somewhat” obscurity. For retailers looking for inspiration when it comes to creating a holistic omnichannel experience, they need look no further than Disney. Disney does an excellent job at seamlessly presenting its magic brand elements via mobile, desktop and in-store elements.

Another great examples is Petco. The pet brand is introducing exhibition kitchens in stores that will allow pet parents to see whole pet foods being made. Similarly, CVS is changing its format with stores now offering a wellness center, care concierge, one on one group counseling, along with health equipment, products, and supplies. Finally, Orvis’ award-winning omnichannel strategy is definitely one retailers should strive for. Orvis leverages first party data to target the right audience at the right time and equips their sales associates with CRM and ecommerce tools for a better in-store customer experience.

Tap Sophisticated Solutions like Buy Online, Pick-Up In Locker (BOPIL®)

Offline fulfillment of online orders is an essential option for today’s busy consumers. Electronic lockers enhance the retail customer experience by making it quick, easy and convenient for customers to retrieve their online orders/goods in-store. The way these lockers works is simple. Once an online retail order is fulfilled – be it groceries, clothing, electronics, cosmetics and more – the items are placed into a secure locker located at the retail store. Customers are then instantly notified by text or email and provided with a unique code that they can type or scan at the locker kiosk. They can then quickly and easily pick up their order at their convenience by going to the retail store and simply entering their personal code into the locker. These lockers help to boost in-store customer engagement because retail staff have fewer distractions and remain more focused on in-store customer interactions. With greater customer interaction comes an increase in customer loyalty and ultimately sales. BOPIL brings customers back into the store so it is vital for retailers to deliver a convenient and quick experience. By doing so, customers are more likely to impulsively purchase additional items since their time is no longer wasted waiting in line. In fact, 61 percent of shoppers and 75 percent of millennials who come into the store to collect their online order make an unplanned purchase.

What are some ways that you’re preparing for the upcoming holiday shopping season? Comment below.