Each year, retailers and consumers alike look forward to the long-anticipated annual holiday sales season. In preparation for the upcoming gift giving holidays, marketers need to plan the various components of advertising the holiday-centric sales promotions in advance. Unlike any holiday sales season previous, this year will require special considerations due to COVID-19 shifting the consumers shopping experience. It is less likely that there will be the mass lines associated with Black Friday sales and instead, those shoppers will turn to safer alternatives without sacrificing the anticipated savings. We may also see a shift in sales from surging during Black Friday, to a dramatic shift during Cyber Monday and the following weeks leading up to the holidays. Last year showed that the majority of holiday shopping was conducted online, and we predict that it will only continue to grow with this year’s circumstances. We will divulge into five identified areas that may have a significant impact on the way retailers can expect to adjust their typical holiday sales strategies. eCommerce Gaining More & More Power Although we have seen a gradual shift of brick and mortar retailers migrating to digital platforms, this is expected to be more prominent than ever before. As we have all experienced over the past several months, the consumer’s shopping experience has been uprooted from how we’ve all grown accustomed to. During quarantine, retailers have had to make extravagant efforts to maintain customers almost solely through online marketplaces. The ever-growing concern for public safety has had an inverse impact on in-store traffic, as special regulations have been developed to limit store capacities. Due to this change, consumers are projected to do more online shopping than in-store. Retailers should be sure to optimize their websites to be able to function with higher traffic volume, prepare for an influx in online orders, and ensure that fulfillment centers are on-track to be able to keep orders and shipments organized. This consideration is also aimed towards mobile capabilities, as we all know by now, mobile friendly websites are favored in the realm of search engines. Creating a frictionless shopping experience, whether it be on a website or on an app, is a valuable asset to boost conversions across the board. Mature Consumers, New Shopping Experiences An increase in site traffic can implicate that visitors of broad demographics will be involved in greater quantities than in previous years. Younger shoppers have been exposed to digital platforms the majority of their life, as they are commonly known as ‘Digital Natives’, which means they are less likely to struggle this holiday season. eRetailers should take special consideration to ensure that their site is clear, easy to navigate, and is optimized for consumers that may not be familiar with the online shopping process. UX/UI testing can provide insight into improvements that will enhance the shopping experience, increase the cost per cart, and gain better conversion rates. Consumers who aren’t used to the newer shopping process could also benefit from customer service initiatives like live chat, advanced customer service call lines, and more. In-Store Pick Up is Changing the Game As shoppers migrate even more to online shopping, delivery options need to be revamped to meet the increasing demand. Although shoppers are less likely to go in-store to browse, local retailers have the opportunity to decrease shipping costs by offering “Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store” or BOPIS for short. This gives consumers the option to buy items in the comfort and safety of their own homes and pick up their order from a nearby location. A new variation of this surged during the pandemic, known as Curbside Pickup, where customers can remain in their cars, pull up in front of the store, and a store associate will bring your order to your car. While this is great on the customer experience side of retailing, optimizations like in-store availability must be spot on to avoid any inconveniences. This will also be helpful to consumers who may not be ready to buy immediately but have done their research online and would like to view the products in-store to solidify their purchasing decisions. This type of behavior is common among consumers, in fact, 88% of in-store purchases followed initial research done online. Consumers will appreciate the ability to see which local store locations have the products available to go view in person. Delivery Difficulties? No One Has Time For That. As previously mentioned, the demand in shipping due to online orders will surge this holiday season. Of course adding more delivery options will help alleviate some of the overflow, many will stick with the tried and true – postal delivery. Retailers should work with their distributors, delivery service providers and manufacturers to best streamline their process and reduce any inconveniences for the consumer. Timeliness during the holiday season can be crucial as well as seemingly impossible if you do not prepare in advance for an efficient delivery process. Shifting Digital Ad Budgets to Supplement Increase In Media Consumption Digital Marketers are keen to the relationship between increased media consumption and the media buying metrics related to digital campaigns such as CPM, CPC, and overall ad real estate. As the audience grows, so does the competition in ad auctions that can determine the cost of your campaigns and the projected performance, as well. During these times, we have seen people spend more time online and brands have moved investments towards digital platforms to supplement their increase in audience engagement. Wrapping Up As you can see, the trajectory of digital strategy in the world of retail has skyrocketed during the era of COVID-19 as well as the necessity for limited contact shopping experiences. Unfortunately for marketers, consumers’ tolerance for hiccups in the buying process aren’t as forgiving as one could hope during these new, transitional, and experimental times. There are a plethora of ways to optimize your strategies to best accommodate the projected increase in online orders and altered behaviors during the surge of holiday shopping. 2020 may require several changes – but nothing can take away the holiday cheer! Lastly and most importantly, stay safe and happy holidays from the team at AVX Digital!