I know that title seems like an odd thing to say in June, let alone in a year like 2020.
The reality is the Christmas shopping season is only about four months away. And in a year that’s seen dramatic impact for retailers due to quarantine shutdowns, imposed curfews, losses from looting and ebbing consumer confidence, finding every opportunity to take advantage of this peak selling season will be even more important than usual.
A big part of preparing appropriately for the upcoming shopping season will be trying to predict and anticipate what the “new normal” of holiday shopping will look like.There have traditionally been three factors that have prevented e-commerce from eclipsing brick-and-mortar shopping, but some of those may be changing: pricing, tradition and the in-store experience.
The stay-at-home orders (and fears of being out among the masses) during the pandemic have already created more familiarity and comfort with shopping online. And this, in turn, has driven costs down for consumers relative to traditional retail, as stores compete for their shopping dollars. While Amazon was one of the first to introduce it, think of the competitive advantage of e-retailers where free same-day delivery is the norm.
To combat this, local retailers need to take advantage of a few other trends revealing themselves in consumer behavior today.
First, throughout the pandemic so far, consumers have shown they’re willing to support local businesses, even paying a premium at times to do so. Creating convenience for those customers, along with an outstanding experience at the store, can pay huge dividends.
It’s a far cry from the tried-and-true strategy of designing the store layout to encourage shoppers to spend as much time in the building as possible, leading them past those items most likely to inspire impulse purchases. How should that strategy shift when consumers want to get in and out of the store as quickly—and with as little contact—as possible?
Those retailers who demonstrated the nimbleness to pivot quickly to curbside pickup, delivery, and online ordering obviously benefited most immediately. And the good news is, if you don’t yet have an online presence—or more importantly, an e-commerce solution—it’s not too late. But the longer you wait, the less you stand to gain.
A study conducted at the beginning of May found that 2 in 5 Americans expect to shop less at brick-and-mortar stores. The good news is that two-thirds of the study’s respondents expect to be comfortable visiting businesses within the next six months. Retailers must find ways to make this as easy and comfortable as possible for them to do.
If you’re currently conducting your business online, great! I hope you’re using the information your shoppers’ behavior provides to identify ways to continue to serve them better, just as you would if you were interacting with them when they’re physically in your store.
If you haven’t created an e-commerce alternative to serve as a supplement to your brick-and-mortar location(s) yet, I hope you’ll find a smart partner you trust to help you. The audience that can be reached through e-commerce is literally almost limitless, and our most successful clients have discovered their online storefront can quickly overtake the number of sales they can make in their physical locations. Like the presents your customers will soon be searching for to give their friends and family members, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.