Any retailer knows it’s important to have detailed day-by-day forecasts and plans for staffing, promotional activities and store activations throughout the entire season (and the months after it). This year, there are some important, new emerging trends that will alter how shoppers discover, browse and buy in-store during the festive season meaning new decisions and plans will need to be made:
The 2019/2020 Festive Season Retail Radar Report
Kepler Analytics (an integration partner of Retail Express) recently released their Retail Radar Report and if you’re a bricks and mortar business prepping for this upcoming Christmas season, we’re sure that the latest report’s findings will be of interest to you. The Retail Radar Report tracks the purchasing behaviours of shoppers in bricks and mortar stores across 3000 locations globally, to identify historical patterns of consumer habits. It predicts upcoming trends retailers are likely to see through the season ahead. Here are the key highlights of the latest report for you to turn into a game plan for the 2019 festive season.
Black Friday & Boxing Day Will Compress The Season Into 2 Key Sales Periods
The research highlights Black Friday and Boxing Day as the two events that now characterise the festive season. Customers are more aware of the bargains and discounts that Black Friday and Boxing Day offer, and are increasingly gravitating towards these two events as the two main dates to make purchases (albeit with extensive researching and browsing activity ahead of that both online and in-store). Going by the traffic to stores over November/December in 2018 and 2017, it’s clear that Black Friday is fast becoming the biggest pre-Christmas sales date. Chances are its popularity will spike even more this year - as there are only 3 weeks in between Black Friday and Christmas, as opposed to 4 weeks in 2018. This means consumers will view the date as the key Christmas shopping opportunity even more. As the Retail Radar report states, these two dates effectively now ‘compress the 3 weeks of December into two periods of 3-4 days each, at either end of the campaign’. While Black Friday is considered by many as an online-only retailer opportunity - it’s a major opportunity for bricks and mortar retailers who have an eCommerce presence to generate online sales or drive in-store traffic via Click & Collect or In-Store Stock Check. Smart bricks and mortar retailers will also run Black Friday promotion events in-store. No-one said Black Friday promotions had to be exclusively online!
So how to best prepare?
Jump on promos now:
As the Retail Radar report notes: ‘many retailers did not fully prepare for Black Friday last year and ended up with less promo activity than their competitors’. If retailers can roll out their online promotion in a strong and targeted way starting early November, they will heighten their chances of capitalising on Black Friday. While the actual act of purchasing gets completed on Black Friday, research and decision making happens way earlier and this is where making sure your brand and offers are visible and front of mind is critical.
Promote Click & Collect to drive a better customer experience and drive in-store visits: Australians shoppers adore Click & Collect for the reasons of ‘avoiding home delivery charges’ (45% of shoppers) and because ‘it is more convenient than home delivery’ (37% of shoppers). To help shoppers avoid the fear of gifts not arriving before Christmas and to drive in-store visits that can lead to additional purchases, the ability to offer an integrated Click & Collect(or In-Store Stock Check) service on your webstore can provide your retail business with a major competitive advantage.
Ensure your gift vouchers and special offers are omni-present across channels too:
Gift vouchers are extremely popular come Christmas time and are a great way to drive sales from existing and new customers. Enabling omni-channel gift vouchers gives retailers a huge advantage over their competitors, as customers know their family or friends can redeem their gift with ease either online or in-store.
There will be less traffic to stores but higher sales conversion rates
The Kepler report notes the two last Christmas periods were ‘very challenging’ for bricks and mortar retailers as overall foot traffic to stores was down. However, though there are fewer people visiting stores, sales conversion rates are up. This festive season will see fewer browsers and more shoppers. The report stresses that ‘although traffic is down, those that visit a store have a stronger inclination to purchase’. So how can retailers capture those shoppers the moment they walk into stores?
Carefully plan rosters and ensure staff are knowledgeable
The festive season leaves the door wide open (quite literally) for many more people entering your store than usual. Experienced retailers know way that staffing appropriately and arming staff with knowledge is key to capitalising on sales events. We recommend retailers take the findings from the Kepler report and ensure they have adequate staff coverage for these key seasonal spikes. Having a mobile POS system in place will give retailers a massive advantage in sales conversion, as customers can be engaged anywhere in-store and quickly provided with real-time expert information on the spot, helping to bust checkout queues and maximise sales conversion rates.
Be strategic about your email campaigns
Modern customer expectations have shifted from ‘meet my needs’ to ‘anticipate my needs.’ This is a constant throughout the year but especially at Christmas when shoppers are busier and more stressed than ever. Personalised promotion emails with targeted offers based on demographics, past purchases and preferences gathered through customer profiling are an effective way to be relevant and useful in a stressful time and can be efficiently achieved with centralised, omni-channel retail CRM data. Capture your customer details for the New Year - A customer is for life, not just for Christmas…We can’t encourage this enough. As the Kepler report notes, fewer people will be browsing in bricks and mortar stores, but the ones that do are more likely to be converted into customers. Retailers should make the most of this by
- Capturing customer details via quick surveys built into the POS system at checkout to maximise named sales (providing loyalty program incentives will particularly help to drive customer participation)
- Using this profile data to run new customer growth campaigns and loyalty programs to drive repeat sales for the rest of December, in the new year and beyond
An understanding of these new trends will allow retailers to maximise their sales in the 2019 festive season and build a database to grow into loyal customers in 2020 and beyond. If you're looking for ideas and best practices to make sure you have the best sales results this holiday season, our retail experts are always happy to chat and share what we've seen have the biggest impact across the thousands of retailers we partner with.