It’s the most wonderful time of the year for retail; the holiday season is just around the corner. However, this ultra-busy trading period is not without its pressures and challenges.
Here, we look at some of this year’s anticipated shopping trends and retail traffic drivers, and how retailers and shopping centres must optimise their strategy to keep pace with customer behaviour.
Black Friday will be bigger – and consumers less tolerant
It will come as no surprise to the retail industry if Black Friday exceeds last year’s record-breaking revenue, but there are lot of aspects of 2014 that businesses won’t want to repeat.
Backlogs in fulfilment crippled delivery networks in some countries, resulting in huge levels of consumer frustration. Those same shoppers will be keen to grab a bargain in 2015, although they won’t be sympathetic to any order bottlenecks. Retailers that get their Black Friday strategy wrong could see a backlash translate into slumping consumer traffic during December.
Cautious shoppers will be more considered with their purchases
It’s been a volatile year for many regions – economic instability in the EuroZone, falling U.S. consumer confidence, sharp falls Chinese stock market – and as such, many shoppers are proceeding towards Christmas with caution.
As a result, retailers and shopping centres will have to work harder to loosen consumers’ purse strings, and this may mean greater investment in promotions, flash sales, and experiential marketing. There’s also a lot they can do in terms of layout and visual merchandising, to encourage upselling.
Click-and-collect could overwhelm staff
Globally we’ve seen click-and-collect services increase in 2015, particularly in Europe; according to Deloitte, 95% of consumers plan to use click-and-collect as part of their holiday shopping this year.
However, this service will only work if it’s convenient to customers – and this relies on retailers optimising the in-store experience. Dedicated collection points, run by thoroughly trained staff, can help to avoid the influx of people picking up good overwhelming people and services – especially in late December, after the final posting deadline.
It’s also worth highlighting that shopping centres will need to allow for the increased retail footfall click-and-collect brings, which places greater pressure on facilities such as car parks and restaurants.
The competition from ecommerce is growing
Not only are retailers and shopping centres going to need to work harder to satisfy the diverse needs of their customers – they’re going to have to work harder to get those customers through the door in the first place.
eMarketer has predicted that £1 in every £9 will be spent online this holiday season, a 13.9% increase on last year. Click-and-collect is one way to drive this traffic into stores and centres, however businesses might also want to supplement this with special offers exclusive to bricks-and-mortar shopping, such as a free cup of coffee during their visit, or a complimentary gift wrapping service; something that cannot be replicated (or is difficult to replicate) online, which increases not only footfall, but the sense of customer value.
The key to close-knit, profitable customer relationships is understanding the behaviour pattern of every customer. FootFall’s Site Analytics retail intelligence allows retailers and shopping centres to convert key metrics into actionable insight – invaluable during peak trading periods such as Christmas.
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