A Retailer’s Guide to Preparing for the 2021 Holiday Shopping SeasonMary Ann Felts
After 2020’s scaled-down holiday shopping season due to the Covid pandemic, customers are eager to get out and spend in the months ahead. According to the Mastercard SpendingPulse, this year’s shoppers are getting their holiday shopping done earlier, are more inclined to buy luxury items, and are likely to return to brick-and-mortar locations in addition to shopping online.
Even as customers look forward to a more ‘normal’ holiday season, though, they continue to hold onto habits and preferences shaped by the coronavirus crisis. Additionally, although customer spending is strong, concerns about supply chain bottlenecks are likely to affect shopping behaviors in the months ahead.
Taking into account the recent changes in the retail landscape will help you prepare effectively for the 2021 holiday shopping season. In this blog post, we’ll review some key takeaways from last year’s holiday season, look ahead to this year’s trends, and share some actionable tips on how you can prepare your business.
We wish you a successful season of sales!
A Look Back at 2020
The 2020 holiday season was like no other in recent history. Facing the spread of an unknown pathogen, shoppers were wary of in-person interactions, and they were thriftier with their spending. Here’s a look at some of last year’s key trends:
1. Holiday Shopping Began Early
According to the National Retail Federation, 42% of shoppers reported that they started their 2020 holiday shopping earlier than November. This was spurred on by retailers rolling out big promotions in October in order to prevent massive in-store crowding, as well as merchants’ concerns about supply chain issues.
2. Shoppers Were Thriftier
Although 2020 holiday sales beat expectations and grew by 3%, customers were nevertheless more selective with their purchasing. Sales in the luxury sector dropped by 21%, and more than one in 10 shoppers reported that they were less loyal to their favorite brands in order to find the best deals.
3. Slower Foot Traffic
With customers wary about the spread of germs, in-person shopping declined. On Black Friday, foot traffic was down by over 48% from the previous year.
4. E-Commerce and Mobile Shopping Surged
Additionally, a record number of shoppers made purchases from mobile devices. Year over year, mobile shopping grew by 25%, and mobile purchases accounted for 40% of total sales on Black Friday.
What’s Ahead for the 2021 Holiday Shopping Season
There’s a lot to look forward to this holiday season, with customers ready to visit brick-and-mortar locations and to spend more on luxury and big-ticket items. However, the pandemic has and will continue to leave its mark on the retail environment, and customers aren’t going to be returning to all of their pre-pandemic habits anytime soon. Here’s what you can expect in the months ahead:
1. Shoppers Are Starting Early Once Again
Due to supply chain issues, customers and retailers alike are beginning the holiday season earlier so they can avoid any future disruptions. In a recent survey, a third of shoppers said they would begin holiday shopping before Halloween!
2. More Luxury and Jewelry Purchases
Over the past 6 months, the luxury and jewelry sectors have undergone strong growth year over year. Thanks to government stimulus, increased savings, and adaptation to the pandemic, customers are feeling more comfortable buying higher-end goods, and it’s likely they’ll carry on this trend through the holiday season. In fact, it’s expected that jewelry sales in November and December will rise by 59% year over year according to Mastercard’s SpendingPulse 2021.
3. In-Store Shopping Makes a Comeback
For many shoppers, the threat of Covid has been diminished and they’re no longer hesitant to get out and about. According to Mastercard’s SpendingPulse, in-store sales are anticipated to grow by 6.6% from last year.
4. E-Commerce and Mobile Shopping Are Here to Stay
Although a greater number of sales will take place in-store this year as compared to last, online shopping will continue to be preferred by many customers. Shoppers have gotten accustomed to the convenience of shopping from their computer or mobile device, and it’s expected that e-commerce sales will be nearly 60% higher than in 2019.
Plus, a greater proportion of e-commerce sales are expected to take place on mobile devices. According to Bluedot’s 2021 Holiday Habits Report, nine in 10 of those surveyed plan to use mobile apps for holiday shopping, and 73% expect to purchase over half of their gifts from mobile devices.
How You Can Prepare for the 2021 Holiday Shopping Season
Now that we’ve looked at some trends, it’s time to explore some practical ways that you can set up your business for success in the months ahead. Whether it’s upgrading the in-store experience or perfecting the omnichannel approach, here are some tactics to consider:
1. Start Now!
Like last year, the holiday season is beginning even earlier. Prepare for eager shoppers and sidestep supply chain challenges by rolling out holiday promotions and marketing campaigns as soon as you can. Not only will your customers appreciate it, but you’ll avoid the stress of having to accommodate a surge in sales or foot traffic.
2. Upgrade Your Brick-and-Mortar Location
There’s nothing quite like the holiday shopping experience in-store, and many customers are ready to relive this annual experience after largely staying indoors last year.
When preparing your storefront for the holidays, keep in mind that many continue to be wary about the spread of coronavirus. As such, shoppers are likely to appreciate having the option to utilize contactless or touch-free checkout methods. Some solutions to consider are kiosks for unattended checkout, contactless-enabled terminals, and QR codes.
You can also alleviate customer health concerns by offering curbside pickup or buy online, pick up in-store options—both of which surged last year during the height of the pandemic.
Another customer preference to consider is the rising popularity of interactive and digital displays. Digital displays help customers explore products and check out with greater ease and speed, which ultimately leads to more sales. In fact, a recent survey shows that 80% of shoppers under 30 are more likely to shop in-person if there are interactive screens with product information and reviews/comparisons.
3. Support Online and Mobile Shoppers
Customers have come to appreciate the convenience of shopping online and from their mobile devices. To encourage more sales, consider launching an e-commerce site and be sure to make it mobile-friendly. Mobile commerce, in particular, has a powerful ability to convert more sales, especially when it supports one-click mobile wallets at checkout.
Another great way you can nurture online sales in the current climate is by maintaining an active social media presence. Increasingly, customers are turning to social media influencers and brands to decide what they should buy. Engaging with customers, running promotions with influencers, and regularly sharing your products on social media can make all the difference.
4. Keep Fraud and Chargebacks at Bay
The holiday season is always a time when fraud peaks, and in recent years, the growth of online shopping has led to an increase in fraud. Whether your business is brick-and-mortar or e-commerce, there are things you can do to reduce the risk of fraud and chargebacks. For one, it pays to be clear with customers about your return policies and terms and conditions, and to obtain customer signatures. For online transactions, utilize CVV or AVS technology and implement an online fraud screening tool.
Get Ready for Holiday Shopping With Cardknox
Support the needs of today’s customers with Cardknox’s omnichannel payment solutions for in-store, mobile, and e-commerce platforms. Whether you want to streamline the in-store checkout experience or accept mobile wallets online, Cardknox is here to help you cater to the latest trends.
Here’s a look at some of Cardknox’s many solutions that appeal to today’s holiday shoppers:
1. Unattended Checkout Solutions
With Cardknox, it’s easy to create a future-ready checkout process. The Cardknox payment gateway can be integrated with a wide range of wireless terminals, as well as the latest sleek card readers that are designed for use with digital displays and kiosks.
2. Friendly Online Payments
Make it easy for customers to shop your website from their mobile devices with our support for mobile wallets like Google Pay and Apple Pay. Integrate Cardknox with your online site to start accepting the widest range of payment methods.
Don’t have an e-commerce site? Cardknox’s PaymentSITE hosted online form is a secure online checkout solution that supports one-click mobile wallet payments. It’s fast and easy to set up, customizable, and PCI compliant.
3. QR Codes for In-Store
Speed up checkout and beat the crowds by giving customers the option to pay away from the counter. Cardknox can generate unique QR codes for you to display in your store so that customers can scan them to make payments. Upon scanning the code, the customer’s mobile device will open up your custom PaymentSITE form.
4. Next-Level Security With 3-D Secure 2.0
Ready to stop fraud and chargebacks in their tracks? 3-D Secure technology authenticates cardholder identities in real-time to filter out suspicious transactions. 3-D Secure 2.0 is available with PaymentSITE and with our gateway integration for e-commerce.
To learn more about Cardknox’s customer-friendly payment solutions, reach out to us today! A member of our team would be happy to learn more about your business needs and provide tailored suggestions to fuel sales growth.