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Holiday 2017 Will Show Retailers the Light

Brenna Johnson
November 16, 2017

There’s nothing like a little pressure to drive prioritization. In retail, that driver is called Holiday.

What’s different about this holiday season is the state of retail in general. A day doesn’t go by without headlines about the Retail Apocalypse, abrupt change, store closings, chapter 11 filings, mobile consumers with endless options, and Amazon! NRF reports that consumers plan to shop more online than in stores this holiday for the first time ever.

But it’s not doomsday – not even close.

Just about everyone is predicting the best shopping season in over a decade.

Store closures and slowing brick-and-mortar sales doesn’t mean shoppers aren’t buying, they’re just buying differently.

Holiday shopping statistics

Holiday 2017 will be the perfect case study to help merchants prioritize focus in the new era of retail. With droves of consumers shopping via digital and brick-and-mortar, this compact 2-month window will shine a telling light on what’s needed 365 days a year.

Here are three expected holiday trends that will drive year-round practices.

1. Shoppers are mobile-first. Retailers should (finally) be, too. Mobile will continue to grow massively despite how frustrating it can still be for shoppers. More than half of shoppers are dissatisfied with mobile shopping, with retail mobile sites and apps falling short in checkout, ease of use, and personalization. At retailers, mobile is still largely seen as ecommerce’s little sister, with many still treating it as a special IT project.

Nations just getting in to the ecommerce game are leapfrogging desktop and only optimizing for mobile shopping. It’s where consumers spend the growing majority of their online time – across all age groups.

During Holiday 2016, mobile surpassed desktop with 52% of digital traffic. And while mobile traffic will surely increase this holiday season, traffic (while desirable) does not equal a sale. Mobile sales represent about 34% of ecommerce sales – just imagine if retailers really thought mobile-first.

2. Stores will offer inspiration and convenience. Digital is the growth mechanism going forward, but that doesn’t mean a zero-sum game for stores. Digital can breathe new life in to dated store models as retailers right-size.

Traditional department stores have acquired too much space and debt over the years – and online options have decreased foot traffic. Most shoppers now see massive stores stocked with floors of inventory as inefficient and overwhelming, with the historic holiday favorite – Department Stores – placing 5th out of 8 on the list of where consumers plan to shop.

While showpiece destination stores in premier markets won’t go away, retailers can right-size chains, store footprints, inventory, and operations in an age when digital can reach the masses for a fraction of the cost.

3. The slow death of the Big Sale. Endless online options have killed the once-reliable driver of traffic and spending: the Big Sale. The appeal of the sale has worn off because they’ve become perpetual. Constant retailer emails, rotating banners, and promo codes leave consumers asking, “Isn’t there always a sale?”

Black Friday is no exception. Consumers love instant gratification and aren’t waiting for products to go on sale if they can get it on a competitor’s site for less today – one of the reasons why Millennials don’t buy Black Friday.

Forbes and JLL cite that the majority of shoppers start buying outside of the big sales: 30% start before Thanksgiving, 14% start on Black Friday, 6% start shopping on Cyber Monday, and almost 40% don’t even start shopping until December 1. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday results are expected to grow this year, guaranteed deals and fast shipping have taken the wind out of the Big Sale’s sails.

 

For tips on how to take advantage of these Holiday 2017 trends, see “3 Holiday Trends That Will Drive Year-Round Retail Practices“.

Brenna Johnson
When Brenna Johnson isn’t talking about online shopping, she is online shopping. At Oracle, Brenna works with online retailers and brands who are transforming their ecommerce programs; doubling down on mobile commerce, expanding globally, and integrating service, marketing, and loyalty to take advantage of digital disruption.
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