Holiday Retail is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year 

In 1963, Andy Williams recorded the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” as an ode to the joyous Christmas holiday season. For retailers, though, the holiday shopping season can wonderful or woeful depending on how well sales go.  

The average retail business can expect to do close to 30% of its business during the holiday shopping season, which traditionally begins the day after Thanksgiving. And this year, global consulting firm AlixPartners is forecasting sales to rise between 4.4% and 5.3% over last year. Here are some retail trends that are expected to continue this holiday shopping season. Businesses that are prepared for them could have a wonderful time.

Shoppers are Going Mobile

Whether a store does most of its business online or in-store, it needs to focus on being mobile-friendly. Adobe’s CMO.com reports that in 2018 smartphones accounted for half of all online visits to store websites during the peak holiday shopping season and 31% of revenue during the weekend of Black Friday to Cyber Monday. That means web stores must be mobile friendly and ready to handle high traffic.

Being mobile-friendly means having cohesive online and in-store sales. Paladin’s retail platform has features or integrations to make holiday selling easier.

  • Pointy is an application that evens the online playing field for independent stores. It lets small businesses push their products into local Google product searches alongside e-commerce and big-box retailers whose products normally dominate those search results. 
  • Volusion links online and in-store sales assuring that items purchased from either site are confirmed, recorded and in stock.  
  • Ez-Ad enhances in-store shopping with dynamic digital signs and a mobile app to improve customer service and close sales. It empowers store associates to compare prices with competitors and offer product information and demonstration videos to customers right in the aisles. It also allows managers and owners to easily create promotional materials such as signs and banners. 

 

Be Ready for Click-and-Collect

Independent retail businesses have a huge advantage over Amazon and other online retailers when it comes to last-minute shopping. The five days before Christmas is a slow time for many e-tailers online shopping traffic drops approximately 9% and sales dip 18% as shoppers flock to brick-and-mortar stores.

So, location, location, location is the key. Shoppers who don’t want to be empty-handed at Christmas know it’s safer to pick up last-minute items at a store rather than risk late delivery. Stores can further capitalize on their proximity and availability by selling online and offering in-store pickup, also known as click-and-collect or buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS). In 2018, 81.4% of online shoppers reported ordering products for in-store pickup and businesses offering this service saw an average increase of 52% of online traffic and sales conversions.

Sure Pickup is Easy

Stores considering click-and-collect services should study Bell and Howell’s latest report – “BOPIS State of the Industry.” According to the shoppers in the study, the in-store pickup experience played the biggest role in their satisfaction. Retailers considering joining the click-and-collect trend should focus on:

  • A convenient pickup location
  • Designated pickup parking
  • Obvious in-store signage for the pickup site
  • A well-staffed pickup counter
  • Readiness of orders
  • A smooth checkout process

Click-and-collect can increase sales in other ways, too. The report “The Rise of the Click and Collect Superconsumer” shows that 85% of shoppers who buy online and pick up their items in a store make additional purchases during pick up and spend an average of $40 more on those items.

Hit the Ground Running

It’s no secret that the first “weekend” of the holiday shopping season – Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday – is the most wonderful time of the year for retailers. Adobe’s CMO.com says those five days accounted for nearly 20% of total online retail in 2018.

However, My Total Retail, suggests local, independent retailers focus on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday while leaving the online behemoths to battle for Cyber Monday sales. Despite the attraction of online shopping, the National Retail Federation statistics show that 90% of all shopping is still done in brick-and-mortar stores. So independent businesses should probably focus on the consumers who still line up outside of their stores in the wee hours of Black Friday to get those “Door Buster” deals.

Be Ready

Not all preparations for holiday shopping include stocking up on the latest merchandise, retail technical upgrades, and strategic planning. Stocking up means making sure there is enough gift wrapping, cash register tape, and bags and cards to make those sales final. Cleaning up and arranging the sales floor to be customer friendly encourages more purchases. Having enough sales associates on duty improves customer service and speeds checkout. It also means your staff isn’t overworked during those long, harried holiday shopping days.

Even though the holiday shopping season is nearly here, it’s never too late to take steps to ensure it will be the most wonderful time of the year.

Brian Bullock

Writer