Posted: 2 November 2018
The holiday period of November and December is our biggest season for shopping. With spend of more than $1 trillion, holiday sales account for more than one quarter of annual US retail sales. Groceries, last minute essentials, indulgent purchases, gifts for family and friends, gifts to ourselves...we literally shop ‘til we drop. This will come as no surprise to anyone. But the way we shop and what we purchase has gradually been changing.
A recent report by Deloitte finds that 27% of people were planning to give experiences rather than wrapped gifts over the holiday period. However, retailers need not be too worried; one-third of holiday spend still goes towards physical gifts, and with an average holiday spend of $1,226 (which rises to $2,226 for households with incomes over $100,000), there is still a lot of spending to be done.
We hear all the time about internet shopping being on the increase, but this is rising at an ever-greater rate with the increase of smartphone use. Around 81% of us in the States have smartphones and this figure increases each year, as does the time we spend on our devices. Even when we are not making purchases we are researching what to buy. In fact, this is a key shift in our purchasing patterns driven by cyber week promotions. Shoppers will now research what key purchases they want to make and then wait for the big discounts in cyber week to make their purchase. The promotions themselves are effectively redirecting holiday spend rather than increasing overall retail spend.
Bricks and mortar retailers have found it necessary to offer big discounts in-store to try to compete with online shopping but selling most of their products at a discount hits their bottomline hard even when unit sales are healthy. Retailers are realising that this is not an effective way to compete.
Many retailers are now finding ways to offer memorable experiences to increase footfall to the store. Destination stores are a growing phenomenon where stores include restaurants, juice bars, brow grooming, mini golf…anything to get the customers in to the store. If shoppers are going to leave the house they need more than just a product to get them off the couch.
In terms of core retailing, store owners need to find ways to provide some of the benefits of internet shopping within the store. Shoppers want detailed product information available on the shop floor, they expect knowledgeable staff, they’d like in-store demonstrations. More than half of shoppers still want to complete their transaction in the store, even when they have used the internet to pre-shop, retailers should make this easy for shoppers by providing a good store location finder on their website and also accurate in-store stock information.
Retailers can also maximize the opportunity of the sense the urgency that holiday shoppers feel. With a long list of gifts to buy and a short amount of time to do it, techniques such as presenting products as ready-made gifts, by using clear signage to lead customers to key sales areas and to display pricing on goods, by co-siting products to encourage multiple product purchases (a character toy alongside a kids book for example), or stocking limited editions, will all help increase the sales of shoppers within the store.
The holiday period gives people a reason to spend, retailers must provide shoppers with a reason to spend with them.
Read more about how to gain the attention of the shopper in-store
Bricks and mortar retailers need to choose which battles to fight and then get creative. Taking Black Friday as an example, its vital to find the right balance between getting people into the store for a Black Friday event, but not to the point of committing retail suicide. Get them in and help them to discover something new.
A typical retail trick is to use a ‘trinity’: The discount, the normal and something new - the discount allows you to participate and gain the footfall, the normal allows the standard margin, and the new to encourage interest and further purchases. Retailers have no option but to be present, but should do it on their own terms which will convince their shoppers that they are offering something of value, or they will go elsewhere with their hard earned dollars.
You can try to improve the customer experience and benefit from the footfall with signs on your face-outs.