Stores in September are full of back-to-school supplies and Halloween candy. But make no mistake, Christmas 2018 is just around the corner.
It will be the first major holiday since Toys “R” Us joined the list of chains that didn’t make it. Store closings and shifting shopper preferences present new challenges and opportunities for retailers this season. How is your organization responding?
Retailers like Target are strengthening their omnichannel presence. The company just announced a ramped-up toy strategy that includes a digital spin to its toy catalog and extended shipping/fulfillment options.
To help you prepare for the holidays, let’s take a look at last year’s results, 2018 predictions, and a download of EnterWorks’ Playbook to Maximize Your Holiday Sales.
Best Gains Since the Great Recession
The success of the 2017 holiday season exceeded original forecasts due in large part to growing wages, stronger employment, and higher consumer confidence.
According to the National Retail Federation, holiday retail sales in 2017:
- Increased 5.5 percent
- Showed the strongest year-over-year gains since the Great Recession
- Reached $691.9 billion, which includes $138.4 billion in online sales
A report from Mastercard Spending Pulse also shows:
- Online retail shopping increased 18.1 percent in 2017
- Heavy early-season promotions worked wonders
- Shoppers spent late into the season, with December 23 rivaling Black Friday for highest single-day sales
To sum up the 2018 retail holiday, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said: “Whether they shopped in-store, online or on their phones, consumers were in the mood to spend, and retailers were there to offer them good value for their money…Retail has proven once again that it is the most nimble industry in the economy, able to transform and reinvent itself to meet always-changing consumer demands.”
Predictions for the 2018 Holiday Season
Initial predictions from eMarketer show that consumer confidence in the US is still strong. While slightly slowed from last year’s boon, retail spending should reach around 3.8 percent for the 2018 holiday season.
How can retailers meet or exceed this growth? Forbes provides an extensive list of analyst insights and prediction here. A few highlights include:
- Deliver a customer-centric focus: Chain Store Age reports that retailers must continue to evolve to be truly customer-centric: “If a retailer is not organized properly to be customer centric, they need to take action to realign the company. In addition to the people-work required, they must ensure they can capture and centralize customer data and insights from in-store and online interactions.”
- Data should drive retail decisions: More than ever before, retailers should leverage data to drive interactions with consumers and business decisions. According to Deborah Weinswig, “Retailers have a significant amount of data to power AI and deliver personalized, customized and localized experiences to surprise and delight customers. More data beats better algorithms every time, and retailers continue to generate significant amounts of data both online and offline.”
- Be where your customers want you to be: Shoppers want to interact with retailers closely, engage in building and customizing products, and desire curated product selections and experiences. Rupa Ganatra said, “One of the biggest lessons of 2017 is for retailers to be where their customers want them to be, engage with them where their customers want them to engage them and make the customer experience seamless across all touchpoints and channels.”
- The spotlight is on emerging tech: From AR to robots and machine learning, emerging technology has matured and retailers are exploring ways to exploit it. Weinswig notes, “Retailers should focus on small wins as opposed to big elephants. Artificial intelligence in retail can be applied in many new ways across the entire product and service cycle, from manufacturing to post-sale customer service interactions. This coming year, we expect to see AI deliver both top-line and bottom-line for retailers across the value-chain.”
Tis the Season for Product Content
For retailers, e-commerce merchants, and manufacturers, it’s the most wonderful time of the year — and the most hectic. As sellers head into the holiday season, they must be cognizant of how technology and consumer behaviors are changing the game.
Download our Playbook to Maximize Your Holiday Sales with PIM to gain insights and strategies on how you can leverage your product content to maximize holiday season sales and bolster consumer confidence and loyalty year-round.