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“Abnormal is so common, it’s practically normal.”
For many consumers, Amazon Prime Day and Target Deal Days have marked the start of the most unique shopping season to date. In the midst of the pandemic, retailers are encouraging customers to begin their shopping conquests early – largely, to avoid logistical nightmares that arise from procrastination.
While such concerns are warranted, it is not only online retailers that must promote the shop early and shop often slogan. For many small businesses, this holiday shopping season will be their maiden voyage into the hybrid world of online and offline shopping. With it may come a few growing pains, but with careful planning and a bit of innovation, the peculiar situation they find themselves in can make for an invaluable experience to grow their business both in the short and long run.
While the pandemic has surely spurred organizations into taking a closer look at the way in which business is conducted, insights show that consumers continue to have a strong desire to venture out of their homes for a more “authentic” shopping experience. According to data aggregated by Google, it’s expected that most purchases will still be made offline by 2024 (78% versus 22% share online). This is encouraging news for brick-and-mortar businesses, but is not a free-pass to avoid the evolving digital retail landscape.
As digital shopping trends are at the forefront of many a conversation, considering which channels and methods your customers routinely utilize to conduct transactions with your business is crucial. Intricately weaving an online and offline retail shopping experience that is inclusive of all shoppers and shopping preferences is no easy feat. However, for businesses and consumers alike to have a successful holiday shopping experience, innovation that marries the “old” world and the “new” world will pay dividends both this year and in the coming years.
Research shows that retailers with diverse digital offerings will earn additional sales in the next five years, even as customers choose to buy in-store. Why? Because businesses are giving people options, affording them flexibility and casting a wider net for their consumer base.
In theory, this is a fantastic opportunity for a business to target new markets and reach new consumers, but it also opens the floodgates for some serious competition. Consumer expectations will rise as they are provided with more shopping options. Already, it is estimated that about 73% of consumers consider themselves channel-agnostic, up 65% from pre-pandemic times.
Without brand loyalty, especially in the digital realm, fully committing to a digital marketing strategy that is persistent to consistently keep your business top-of-mind, will be necessary.
As with many facets of the pandemic, it is unknown whether or not a lack of brand loyalty is a tendency that will withstand the test of time. However, while this disconcerting trend for small and medium sized businesses is part of the retail landscape, businesses must place a heavy emphasis on connecting with their desired audience.
As organizations expand their digital footprint, online platforms become more and more diluted with brands sharing more or less the same message. During the holiday shopping season in particular, businesses place a heavy emphasis on advertising special promotions or highlighting inventory. Marketing efforts and materials must be turbocharged to fit with customer attitudes that largely center on their personal needs and desires.
Recently, apparel brand Dickies created a remote campaign that crafted an authentic feel to resonate on a deeper level with consumers. A remote campaign that shares different perspectives from different individuals from different geographic regions provides an inclusive people’s perspective and not a brand perspective. Brands like Dickies that embrace consumer trends and feelings while marketing to an audience rather than to a channel can regain some of the brand loyalty that has been lost during the pandemic.
While the ramifications of the pandemic will be felt for some time, the reinvention of an organization’s approach when it comes to reaching their consumer could and should account for long-term company success. As the holiday shopping season quickly approaches, testing new in-store and online shopping experiences to personalize browsing and purchasing habits can provide your business with invaluable data for the months and years ahead.