Four ways to drive success this holiday season

With foot traffic down, features like buy now, pay later and click-and-collect will be critical to success this holiday season

Every retail analyst will say that we’ve accelerated e-commerce adoption by at least a few years in 2020. 

That means this holiday season will be unlike any other, and simply adapting an e-commerce-first mindset won’t be enough to succeed this year.

1. Adapt to the loss of foot traffic

Retailers have moved Black Friday earlier every year to capitalize on deal-seeking shoppers. This year, most large retailers will be closed or have significant restrictions. 

Retail, however, is still critical to holiday sales success. Brick-and-mortar drove $863.7 billion in (86%) of holiday season sales last year, making up 86% of total shopping dollars, according to eMarketer. 

With restrictions in place, retailers are extending Black Friday deals all month -- even all quarter. Amazon kicked off the season earlier than ever this year, with Prime Day in mid-October, prompting other large retailers to do the same. And Singles Day, the largest shopping day of the year globally, finally saw some momentum in the U.S. this year. 

To adapt to this change in shopping behavior, Walmart, for example, is adding e-commerce inventory to its retail distribution to increase capacity for the holidays.

2. Buy Now, Pay Later

With economic troubles across the U.S., loyalty programs with easy purchasing options (think Apple Pay and PayPal) and free or guaranteed shipping will be critical this year. 

Buy Now, Pay Later integrations like Afterpay, Klarna, and Affirm have been converting shoppers at higher rates this year already. This option helps shoppers purchase the gifts they want while avoiding debt. 

It’s also helping retailers fill an $18 billion revenue gap: shopping cart abandonment. Retailers that have integrated Afterpay saw a 45% to 80% increase in new-to-file customers, and a 50% to 200% increase in units per transaction, said Melissa Davis, global chief revenue officer.

3. Get local 

Markets will continue to close and open at different paces throughout the quarter. Either way, foot traffic will be down this year as shoppers opt to order online.

To support this shift, marketers can optimize media away from out of home and experiential. The most successful marketers will ingest recent data on local COVID-19 infection rates to dynamically optimize media to drive sales online or in-store. E-commerce is only expected to make up less than 19% of total holiday sales this year, according to eMarketer. 

4. Click and collect

Click and collect, also known as BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) grew significantly this year, driven largely by new customers. 

This trend will be even more important during the holidays. Click and collect is safe and ensures shoppers will get their gifts in time for the holidays, whereas high order volumes and COVID-19 restrictions have caused shipping delays.

Retailers that built the infrastructure to capitalize on this trend will be able to target audiences and optimize their holiday media, driving success in performance, conversion rates and revenue.

The only certainty in 2020 has been uncertainty. So above all else, retailers and marketers set up to make real-time adjustments will take the cake this holiday season. 

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