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A Profile of Holiday Omnichannel Shopping

Holiday Shopper on PhoneCreating customer experiences that delight shoppers is ordinarily an objective for retailers, but it reaches the status of “mission-critical” during the holiday shopping season. From November through early January, shoppers are out in force, looking for the merchandise they need for gift-giving and holiday events. To capture their share of this market, retailers offer specials and promotions, engineer paths to purchase in-store, online, and across channels, and extend loyalty rewards. However, it’s essential for retailers to align their campaigns with what omnichannel shoppers want — when they want them.

The following holiday omnichannel shopping profile offers some insights merchants can use to deliver the experiences their customers want, and it can give point of sale (POS) VARs a heads up on the types of help your clients may be counting on you for through the last weeks of the year.

How Consumers Will Make Their Holiday Purchases

It’s not practical to try to segment customer lists into “online” and “in-store” shoppers. By and large, consumers use multiple channels to make purchases. Furthermore, they may use multiple channels for a single purchase. Even though consumers still make most purchases in brick-and-mortar stores, those sales may begin by browsing on e-commerce websites or social channels. Likewise, purchases consumers make online may have an in-person element, since it’s common for shoppers to browse physical showrooms to see, feel and try products even if they plan to make purchases online. McKinsey & Company research on holiday omnichannel shopping in 2019 by found that only 12 percent of consumers make purchases spontaneously.  

Also, each year, when stores are decked out in red and green, more and more shoppers take advantage of buy-online-pickup-in-store or click-and-collect opportunities to get their merchandise sooner and avoid shipping costs.

Holiday Shoppers Look for Deals, Convenience

With consumers using all channels, the decision to invest in online, social, or in-store marketing and promotions may seem like a roll of the dice. However, omnichannel holiday shopping appears to follow a pattern. Global commerce marketing firm Criteo analyzed 266.4 million in-store and 66.5 million e-commerce transactions from the 2018 holiday shopping season and identified four phases of holiday shopping:

  • Early November: Consumers make most purchases in brick-and-mortar stores.

  • The days around Black Friday: E-commerce sales increase, driven by consumer expectations of online deals.

  • The week before Christmas: In-store sales increase as consumers rush to make their holiday deadlines when e-commerce businesses no longer guarantee delivery.

  • Between Christmas and early January: Shoppers are less likely to make in-store than online purchases, but in-store return activity increases for most retailers.

Interestingly, Criteo research shows that the rise in e-commerce sales on Black Friday didn’t cannibalize in-store shopping. There was an uptick in sales on both channels that day last year. The research also shows that depending on the type of merchandise the consumer is purchasing, online vs. in-store transactions may vary. For example, electronics and apparel have a high rate of online sales, but home and garden and hardware have a higher rate of in-store sales throughout the season.

How an Omnichannel Payment Solution Can Make the Holidays Merry and Bright

As merchants attempt to engage customers in the most effective ways and create seamless experiences as they move from physical to digital channels, an omnichannel payment solution will be an essential tool and provide valuable data.

An omnichannel payment solution gives merchants the ability to:

  • Manage sales shoppers make on all channels from a single platform

  • Use shared tokens in-store and online so recipients can return gifts purchased online at store locations

  • Associate payment data with customer data to create a total view of holiday shoppers and personalize offers and service

As trusted business advisors, POS VARs can provide your clients with the omnichannel payment solutions they need to sell on all channels and help them plan for changing consumer behaviors throughout the holiday shopping season. Providing solutions that enable your clients to maximize revenues this holiday shopping season can strengthen your relationship and build loyalty — a good holiday shopping season for your clients can translate into a good New Year for you.

Add Omnichannel Payments to your Solutions!