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6 Retail Trends That Will Dominate the 2021 Holiday Shopping Season

Table of Contents

  • Gearing Up for the 2021 Holiday Shopping Season 
  • A Blast from the Past: Looking Back at the 2020 Holiday Shopping Season
  • 2021 Holiday Shopping Trends & Predictions 
  • How to tap into the Holiday Spirit with Digitally Driven Retail  
  • Gearing Up for the 2021 Holiday Shopping Season 

    While it feels like just yesterday brands and retailers were navigating their first holiday shopping season since the onset of COVID-19, here we are again, preparing for the second holiday season amidst the pandemic. While most countries have opened up for business again and some normalcy has been restored, the Delta variant is threatening to disrupt the routine yet again. This could mean eCommerce will once again steal the show this holiday season – a Radial survey found that 65% of shoppers plan to spend more or the same amount of time online as compared to the 2020 holiday season.

    Amidst this uncertainty, retailers and brands are once again in a difficult position this retail holiday shopping season. But, it’s not all stormy for retailers. According to KPMG prediction, the 2021 holiday sales for the US retailers will be 7% higher than last year’s. While this is great news for all parties in the retail ecosystem, it also means that retailers need to be better prepared to meet the extra demand, and the evolved customer expectations to make this holiday season a grand success. 

    A Blast from the Past: Looking Back at the 2020 Holiday Shopping Season

    When the 2020 holiday season approached, the world was right at the peak of the pandemic. Brands and retailers were grappling to fulfill demand through digital channels and traditional retail was seeing dark days. Although a lot has changed since then, some things are bound to stick around for this season, considering that the threat of COVID-19 still lingers. Let us look at some highlights from Intelligence Node’s 2020 holiday season consumer survey, that we believe will still apply even today: 

    • Most shoppers, 83%, were likely or very likely to buy online and/or use curbside pickup during the 2020 holiday season.
    • Low prices were the number one factor customers were looking for, last holiday season
    • 3 out of 4 shoppers said they were likely to stray from their favorite brand for better-priced alternatives
    • 15% were planning to get their holiday shopping done on Prime Day last year

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    2021 Holiday Shopping Trends & Predictions 

    The holiday season is just around the corner. And as retailers start laying the groundwork for a bustling holiday season, we have put together a list of 2021 holiday shopping predictions that will influence this year’s season. 

    1. An Extended Holiday Season

    According to the same survey by Radial, 57% of consumers plan to shop earlier this year as compared to last. With online shopping taking a front seat once again, shoppers plan to holiday shop sooner than before to take advantage of Black Friday and Prime Day discounts and to avoid delivery and fulfillment delays during the prime holiday weeks. Retailers need to take note of this Christmas shopping trend today and get their stores in order before the holiday shopping wave hits them.  

    2. Omni-channel will Rule

    Since the onset of the pandemic, eCommerce growth has been unprecedented. This trend will continue to influence the holiday season as well. The Delta variant will further tilt the scales in the favor of online and omnichannel shopping preferences as shoppers follow social distancing and COVID-19 protocol. In fact, an Emarsys research shows that 46% of global retailers are considering canceling their in-store Black Friday sales due to COVID-19 concerns. Additionally, over 81% of retailers plan to encourage customers to shop for holidays online rather than in-store. Ramping up both online and in-store presence and having a complete, unified view of available inventory across channels will help brands and retailers fulfill demand wherever it arises. 

    3. Creative Fulfillment Options will go a Long Way

    For what will largely be an eCommerce-driven holiday season, retailers are beginning to find new and innovative ways to improve and optimize their fulfillment options. Many retailers are planning to set up dark stores by converting their physical stores located in multiple areas into fulfillment centers or setting up additional fulfillment centers. This will help them process orders faster and more efficiently due to their geographic proximity to different zip codes, additional manpower, and inventory availability. Furthermore, investing in supply chain solutions and partnering with the right, local delivery partners will help ensure smooth fulfillment this holiday season.

    4. Price Sensitivity will Ensure Best Prices Win

    Low prices will once again dominate this holiday season as shoppers hunt for the best deals online amidst economic instability. Retailers could leverage advanced pricing solutions to match their prices against competitors, understand audience demographics, shopper preferences, and competitor prices to offer the most competitive prices, promotions, and personalized discounts will lead to higher sales and conversions this holiday season. 

    5. Customers will Opt for BOPIS & Curbside 

    Although many customers might feel more comfortable returning to physical stores or malls this holiday season, the BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) and curb-side pick-up methods will still remain popular for their safety and convenience. While these methods became popular at the peak of the pandemic last year when shoppers were concerned about visiting stores or there were restrictions on store traffic, these shopping methods continued to gain prominence even as the pandemic receded across the globe. This behavior is likely to continue even during this holiday season. 

    6. Forecasting and Planning for Inventory in Advance will Pay Off 

    With product shortages hitting every industry across the globe, retailers need to anticipate demand and better prepare for the upcoming holiday season. They need to analyze shopper behavior, historic demand patterns, and holiday trends to forecast and plan for inventory to avoid last-minute shortages. Partnering with vendors at every stage allows the retail supply to operate better. In addition, empowering your warehouse teams with technology to map inventory across fulfillment centers is another way to ensure the right inventory is available at the right time and place. 

    Tapping into the Holiday Spirit with Digitally Driven Retail  

    This holiday season, make your customers happy and your business a raging success by incorporating data, analytics, and technology into your retail strategy. Your holiday sales are going to be driven by digital commerce and so should your strategy. Harness the power of retail technology to understand your customers, plan your inventory, improve your fulfillment, offer competitive prices, and give your customers a personalized and seamless shopping experience. 

    Find out how Intelligence Node’s advanced analytics across pricing, assortment, inventory, and digital shelf can help you improve your conversions and profitability. Book a Demo.

    Holiday season with data driven analytics