Christmas 2021

Christmas Shopping during Covid-19 the 2nd.
 

 

Reading time: 5 minutes
Have you ever been Christmas shopping with closed shops in empty city centers without that amazing atmosphere the most wonderful time in the year brings? That’s how it was for everyone willing to spend money to surprise their loved ones under the Christmas tree in 2020. The pandemic has changed the world, specifically the retail industry, completely. E-commerce was not invented overnight, but closures last year as well as restrictions this year accelerated a drift in the customer behavior towards more online activities – a trend which will surely remain permanent.

“Businesses which were known for and relied on the personal face-to-face relationships and sales, were forced to be more creative regarding their availability, their engagement with their customers or even delivery of goods during the Corona lockdowns. Online is convenient and the safer option, but that doesn’t mean that there is the necessity of an online shop for local retailers.Markus Demirci, founder and CEO of mPocket.

Following the latest news, it looks quite like “the same procedure as last year”. Governments are trying to delimit the spread of the virus and the thread of closures already became true in some countries.

1. “Revenge” shopping brings consumers back

The pandemic is far away from being over, but a certain risk and threat have become everyday concerns for every person, every consumer. Although the on-going growth of e-commerce is hard to ignore, consumers are eager to shop in person, in-store, experiencing what was eliminated during lockdowns. A so called “revenge shopping” will take place in order to make up for what consumers missed out despite a global supply chain crisis, a resurgence of Covid cases and high inflation. Consumers are planning to spend more money and the National Retail Federation is predicting that retailers will set new sales records for the 2021 Christmas season.

The shipping uncertainties of ordering online is in favor of local retail as well – although the pandemic-related supply chain disruptions are forcing consumers to shop earlier this year. Considering early shoppers’ interest in supporting small businesses that engage in local sourcing, more of their in-store and online purchases could go to nearby retailers. In-store and online by local retailers? Yes – hungry shoppers will return, but only to those shops which are present online. Nowadays customers are leaning on online research for local shops, checking reviews and product availabilities, communicate over social media with the retailers and use special services such as Click-and-Collect, video consultation or rely on reviews they find online. A hybrid approach is needed for retailers.

2. Retailers, time to get ready for this festive season

Christmas season has always been that one-time focus of the year for retailers. Last year’s holiday season was dramatically different. For consumers when it came to socializing with friends and gathering with family members as well as getting the gifts organized on time. For retailers which were literally locked down, it was reaching out to customers on more than the personal way – the sales in local retail were highly digitally driven.

According to the Sitecore Holiday Shopping Trends 2021 Report 85% of marketers in the US and 83% in the UK strongly agree that this Christmas is crucial for the further existence of their business. Changed customer behaviors, their different motivations and needs appeared during the pandemic and are redefining the opportunities in local retail. A new sense for sustainability was awakened which led to a reset in the black Friday sales promotions as well, according to the survey. In the US about 17% of retailers are declining this event which has a negative impact to the spending of consumers at other times of the year.

But with an increasing number of infections, newly defined restrictions and the risk of new lockdowns, how can this critical time of the year become Happy Holidays for retailers?

“Preparedness is the key. All businesses which require skilled service staff are lacking such. The missing workforce even increased during the pandemic. Additionally, there is some extra workload during the holiday shopping season in “normal” years. This year we will face supply chain difficulties, even more stressed customers and therefore stressed sales clerks plus hygiene measures or restrictions in the stores. Retailers which survived have gone through their biggest lesson during the first lockdowns: Customer behavior changed, there is much more needed to survive than just waiting in the store for the next customer to come by. Preparedness for this vital season means getting an early understanding of consumers, connect with them over all channels on a personal and human level and deliver the experience they are demanding – a hybrid approach of physical and digital shopping the so-called phygital retail.” Markus Demirci, founder and CEO of mPocket.

3. “Phygital” retail as solution to beat the challenges

Digital has become life’s default channel. Thanks to mobile devices and the world wide web everybody can gather every information anytime anywhere. Consumers are tending to get that personal experience in-store again but are demanding the mix of digital and physical retail.

According to Zebras latest 14. Global Shopper Study, 74% of Millennials and 73% of Gen. X are requesting seamless phygital experiences. Product availability, price transparency, security, contactless purchases and an easy way to return goods are deciding factors for a purchase decision.

But the selection of the store starts already earlier: Customers are becoming more and more independent and use (local) online searches as well as Social Media profiles of brick-and-mortar stores such as Instagram and Facebook for the research of prices, price comparisons or consultations or even just to get in touch with the retailer. The survey also uncovered that 58% of the consumers are getting faster information with their smartphone than asking them from a sales clerk in the store. 25% of the surveyed consumers state to have ordered in-store and used the click-and-collect service or delivery to home.

In the past – before Covid-19 – consumers may have been able to get away with online orders just two days before Christmas and still receiving their items on time. Obviously, the holiday shopping season has been and will be looking very different. Omnichannel solutions are the opportunity to thrive a local business and to overcome once again pandemical restrictions even in the busiest time of the year. Technology is the key to master the obstacles. Make the most wonderful time of the year the most omnichannel available and obtainable time for you and your customers.

““The customer is king” is valid now more than ever with the 24/7 availability of a huge competition. I like to rephrase into “The customer is the channel”. Meet their expectations, blur the lines between physical and digital, do not think in different sales channels, but turn your local business into phygital retail. All of us at mPocket wish you a safe and healthy holiday season.” Markus Demirci, founder and CEO of mPocket.

If you are interested how the solution to bring your business to a phygital stage looks like, contact us directly over hallo@mpocket.io or visit our website.

*For reasons of better legibility only the simultaneous use of male and female language forms is not used. All personal names apply to both genders. 

Jasmin Janson

Marketing & Communication Manager mPocket

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