In the last few years, though, there has been a trend away from Black Friday frenzy. Stores began opening on Thanksgiving night and then Thanksgiving Day, thinning out crowds at any given time. Furthermore, some shoppers preferred to wait for Cyber Monday online deals. Black Friday morphed into a five-day shopping event.
A Snapshot of Last Year
From Thanksgiving until Cyber Monday 2019, retail saw overall growth of 3.4 percent year over year. You could find shoppers in brick-and-mortar stores, but the trend was toward online and omnichannel, with 20 percent of all online shopping during 2019 occurring during those five days.
When people did their online holiday shopping, odds are they used their smartphones. About 58 percent of all website visits and 36 percent of 2019 online sales originated on smartphones. Additionally, 35 percent more consumers chose to buy online pickup in store (BOPIS) last year – and there was a 55 percent increase in BOPIS revenues the week before Christmas when delivery wasn’t an option to get gifts on time.
This Year It’s Going to Seem Like One Long Cyber Monday
After a year of dealing with the pandemic, social distancing and moving business online, we feel pretty safe predicting that the consumer trends from last year will be amplified in 2020. Here are five trends to watch for and the impact they can have on value-added reseller (VAR) and independent software vendor (ISV) businesses.
- E-commerce dominates
No one will rush to stand in a crowded brick-and-mortar store. People who have been shopping online all year will keep doing it during the holiday season. Deloitte says to expect up to a 35 percent increase in online holiday sales over last year.
Merchants will probably continue the tried-and-true way of increasing sales by creating a sense of urgency with limited time offers. Remind your clients to ensure their web hosting can handle the possibility that all of their customers will be trying to shop at the same time to get those deals.
- More BOPIS
More consumers may be shopping online, but fewer will be trusting delivery to get their holiday gifts on time – especially after news that carriers already booked to capacity are turning customers away. Expect more online shoppers to choose an in-store or curbside pickup option.
Make sure your clients have the omnichannel payment platform they need to support online payments and payment confirmation when the customer arrives to retrieve their purchases and mobile solutions that can help manage curbside pickup. Also, they need an efficient way to manage items purchased online and returned to the store. The right payments platform can streamline that process.
- More purchases via smartphone
Smartphones were a lifeline for people this year. Consumers used them to stay in touch, order dinner, and access movies and games for entertainment when they had to stay at home. They’ll use them to shop during the holidays, too.
Remind your clients that smartphones can be a key to touchless, in-person payment experiences, allowing consumers to use their mobile wallets or scan a QR code to pay.
Make sure your clients can provide those in-demand customer experiences.
- High gift card demand
The National Retail Federation (NRF) reports year after year that gift cards are the most requested gift item. Predicting that gift cards will be popular again this year is a safe bet, but we’re also predicting that consumers look for gift cards from small, local businesses.
Remember that when the dust settles after Cyber Monday, many shoppers commit to shopping small on Small Business Saturday. Make sure your SMB clients have integrated gift cards – as well as all of the other solutions they need – to make the most of that day.
- People will buy different things
The U.S. is gearing up for another stay-at-home, socially distanced winter, so holiday purchases will likely reflect that. Your focus at this time of year may have been on retailers that sold clothing, electronics, jewelry, sporting goods, toys and other gifts that people have traditionally put on their wish lists. This year expect more consumers influenced by the pandemic to buy equipment for home gyms, home improvement projects, accessories for outdoor activities, or health and wellness products.
If your clients in these niches have never experienced an onslaught of shoppers from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, make sure they’re ready now with robust inventory management, e-commerce, and POS solutions.
Your Clients Deserve Happy Holidays
Analysts are looking for only minimal retail growth overall this year. Deloitte is predicting somewhere in the range of 1 percent to 1.5 percent growth over 2019. This means competition will be fierce, and helping your clients optimize their point of sale (POS), e-commerce and payment functionality must be your priority.
After a trying year, your clients need to ensure they capture enough revenue to move out of the red and into the black – on Black Friday itself or any other day during this historic holiday shopping season.