Thanksgiving 2019 falls late in the month — November 28th, to be exact — which means there are six fewer shopping days between your last bite of turkey and your first sip of Christmas eggnog. This fact isn’t lost on retailers, who spend all year figuring out how to get a larger share of holiday expenditures. One emerging strategy is to supplement conventional last-mile delivery with convenient local walk-in centers to provide better customer service, especially in busy urban markets.
Christmas in July? It is For Multi-Channel Shoppers.
Walmart started dropping prices on Oct. 25th, a full month before Black Friday, and consumers were ready for them: 45% of respondents in a recent survey said they planned to start holiday shopping before November.
On the other hand, 38% said they would wait until November, or later, to begin their gift buying, and 16% said they wouldn't shop at all until December. “Grey Thursday,” where stores open for business Thursday night, gives deal-seekers more time to get a jump on holiday savings. For the laggards, online shopping is the preferred channel for last-minute bargains and down-to-the-wire deals. 54% of those surveyed said they intend to shop online during the five days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Another survey, by online savings platform RetailMeNot, reports that some consumers say the whole holiday season is already too stressful, so they started shopping for gifts on Amazon Prime Day in July.
The point is, with so many options and so much information about products and pricing at their fingertips, holiday shopping has become a year-round event for many consumers.
How “Click and Collect” Solves Holiday Shopping Headaches
Retailers aren’t the only ones looking for a holiday windfall. Like the Grinch, “porch pirates” look forward to stealing unattended gifts from front doorsteps and building lobbies.
Shoppers are increasingly turning to “click and collect” or BOPIS (buy-online-pickup-in-store) services to thwart holiday bandits. Click-and-collect orders grew 50% during the 2018 holiday season, in part because it alleviates the need to worry about packages left in unsecured locations. And in-store pick-up or return at a brick-and-mortar location is also a smart way to avoid shipping costs, especially for people going to the store anyway.
While click-and-collect is proving to be profitable for big retailers with sophisticated logistics, smaller merchants should also be investigating innovative ways to provide convenient local pick-up and return options to better meet customer needs.
3 Ways Retailers Can Prepare for New Holiday Traditions
Retailers traditionally manage inventory by training customers to expect big promotions at certain times of the year. There’s President’s Day in February, followed by Memorial Day blow-outs, July 4th close-outs, and back-to-school specials in August, all of which are just rehearsals for the greatest annual sale of them all – Black Friday.
Consumer advocates at BlackFriday.com forecast Black Friday 2019 will be the biggest ever, with more than $12 billion in online sales. But price wars can be a slippery slope that ignores other factors consumers appreciate, like personalized service and promotions, exclusive private-label goods, and an easy way to grab last-minute gifts.
This year, Amazon started pricing holiday deals at 20% below other online retailers immediately after Halloween. Extending the holiday calendar is shifting shopping patterns and making it harder to accurately forecast inventory and holiday staffing needs. E-commerce analytics platform Profitero suggests three ways retailers can prepare for an unpredictable last-minute online onslaught:
- Forecast demand and allocate inventory as early and as accurately as you can.
- Monitor sales and inventory performance to keep popular items in stock.
- Monitor web and social media analytics in real-time to stay on top of page rankings, social shares, and customer reviews that could impact demand.
At Cura Resource Group, we know the seasonal ups and downs of logistics and customer service are a lot to manage. Ask me how we can help you improve last-mile delivery with a turn-key end-to-end fulfillment center, or visit us at www.curagroup.com.
- Will Amazon Key Reduce Porch Piracy over the Holidays?
- Industry Report: Why Local Pick-up Is Becoming the Norm, Not the Exception
- How to Capitalize on the “Click and Collect” Phenomenon