Yes, it’s too early to talk about the upcoming Christmas Holiday shopping season, unless of course, you are a professional marketer. Even with the social and economic unknowns that are certain to pop up between now and “The Big Friday” after Thanksgiving, brick, and mortar as well as eCommerce vendors are busy formulating strategies to ensure they capture a fair share of holiday spending. Despite an increase in stubborn cases of the COVID-19 virus, the vast majority of people are shedding the once paralyzing fear from the pandemic of 2020 and are breaking out to peruse and purchase items from brands all across the nation’s shopping landscape.
Recent forecasts predict that 2021 retail sales will increase 2.7 percent to an astounding $1.093 trillion. The eCommerce share of the total will top $206.88 billion. After a dismal 2020 shopping experience, retailers are reporting a surge in sales across all sectors even as some products are experiencing a dysfunctional distribution chain. Ecommerce and traditional brick and mortar retailing are reopening to a promised “new reality” forever altered by the historic global health pandemic.
Marketing tactics continue to evolve to meet the expectations of a savvy, diverse and dynamic consumer that often can be counted on not doing what they are expected to do. For all those who stubbornly predict the demise of brick-and-mortar retail, 66% of shoppers in the United States (US) who plan to shop this holiday season say they will contribute more holiday dollars to local small businesses. Temporary Ecommerce stores are quickly becoming an important bridge for online sellers who want to venture into the traditional brick-and-mortar environment where the majority of retail sales in the US still occur. For those traditional, main street businesses who also have an online presence, this coming holiday shopping season may prove to be a much-deserved gift.
To empower and assist marketers to connect with customers across online Search, Shopping, and Maps, Google is launching an enhanced ”hub of holiday resources” (“Hub”) to help retailers prepare for a successful 2021 holiday shopping experience. Google executives are highlighting a study showing 71 percent of US adults plan to spend half of the gift-giving budget across digital channels. The “Hub” offers retailers lessons on how to make it easier for customers to find them; offers tips on preparing an effective social media plan; stresses the importance of an established SEO best practices policy and reveals how retailers can better gravitate to an online presence. “On October 14, Google is holding a one-hour live demonstration on how to use Shopify with Google Merchant Center. The stream will also cover how to use the new Local Opportunity Finder and Grow My Store tools.” Registration is free to all marketers interested in participating.
Sitting back and waiting for customers to find you in a crowded and competitive marketplace will certainly produce disappointment. Successful brands will need to capture the attention of users as they browse the web, engage lookers with authentic content as they research products online, and convert prospective buyers into purchasers.
According to recent data from Small Business Trends, in-store foot traffic was up 12.5% from January thru March 2021, an increase of 28.5 percent from the previous year. To harvest the most benefits from this improving economy, brick and mortar retailers must remember that success will be founded on creating an in-store experience that consumers will value and that helps drive repeat visits. Perhaps the most-trendy of trends in retail springs from the old adage “what’s old is new again”. Rebuilding a customer-centric strategy that places emphasis on establishing trust between brands and consumers will emerge to produce success.