With just a few weeks left in 2020, retailers continue to adjust their strategies to better align with shopper responses to the pandemic. As an industry, we’ve seen a collective global shift to e-commerce, with online shopping increasing 58% during the pandemic – that’s four times faster growth than what we saw in 2019. Now, as the busiest shopping season of the year begins, retailers are changing the way they plan for the holidays to engage with prospective and existing customers based on new learned behaviors from the pandemic. Specifically, retailers are investing in omnichannel, ensuring stocked inventory, solidifying the supply chain and simply selling in-demand products to be successful during this season.
Of all retail categories, home improvement has especially seen a surge in e-commerce sales as shoppers adjust to spending significant time at home and continue to update their spaces to adapt to this new dynamic. Lamps Plus, the nation’s largest specialty lighting retailer, has experienced success during the pandemic. After temporarily closing stores initially based on local mandates due to the pandemic, the company saw consumer interest shift online and subsequently adjusted its marketing and operations strategy to meet e-commerce demands.
During this unprecedented holiday season, thoughtful omnichannel retailing will be important to reach shoppers regardless of where they typically shop. Here’s what retailers can expect from shoppers and the overall landscape going into holiday, and some advice from Angela Hsu of Lamps Plus in applying their same agility for a successful holiday season.
With brand loyalty up for grabs, marketing acquisition will be key
When shoppers discovered the products they needed were unavailable from the retailers that usually carry these products, they turned to new retailers. According to data from Criteo, 39% of shoppers discovered a new online store during the peak of COVID-19, and 83% of those shoppers said they plan to continue purchasing from the new stores they discovered. Seeing the opportunity to capture the market share of increased demand, Lamps Plus focused efforts on customer acquisition and will continue to do so throughout the holiday season. Other retailers can do the same by engaging with shoppers in-market for their products, targeting recent website visitors who are also likely to visit a store and using location technology to acquire once in-store shoppers.
While sales are the ultimate goal, a new buyer journey places importance on full-funnel marketing activations
Earlier this year, Lamps Plus shifted budgets to test new channels such as Connected TV (CTV) and video on YouTube, which have high engagement rates. With shoppers sheltering-in-place and spending more time at home, it was crucial to meet customers where they were — in front of their preferred streaming devices. Given the rise of these new buyer journeys, awareness will be of massive importance to capture the attention of potential customers and pivotal in understanding how these growth channels impact the shopper’s path to purchase. In addition, re-engaging current online visitors and reaching in-store customers online will provide coverage to meet the customer at all marketing touchpoints.
An unprecedented holiday season will require flexibility
If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that a flexible and agile strategy is crucial to navigate through uncertainty. Retailers must commit to remaining agile and focused on marketing channels and campaigns that provide the opportunity to modify and adapt based on economic conditions and shopper behavior during the coming months. By utilizing tools and platforms that can be rapidly adjusted to changing conditions, retailers can remain visible in all the channels that shoppers are spending their time this holiday season.
Messaging will matter more than ever
While engaging shoppers at multiple touchpoints remains important, ensuring that the experience is personalized and seamless across those devices and channels will be of equal importance. Lamps Plus has made it a priority to closely monitor creative, messaging and social media tactics to ensure they are aligned with shopper sentiment and product preference. This holiday season, retailers that provide relevant messaging and creatives that are unique to a shopper’s individual experience will strengthen connections with customers, reminding them why they are loyal to their brand and giving new customers a reason to return after the holiday season.
Retailers across the world have accepted that this upcoming holiday season will be unlike any other. With shifts in shopper behaviors and an acceleration towards e-commerce, a flexible omnichannel strategy will allow them to reach shoppers across all environments, both old and new. One thing we can all count on is that the holiday season will prevail and that as long as retailers can meet shoppers whenever, however, and wherever they are, there will be plenty of holiday spirit for all.
Reggie is the vice president of mid-market client strategy at Criteo, where he supports the company’s mid-market sales and strategy teams for the Americas.
Angela is the senior vice president of marketing and e-commerce for Lamps Plus.
Angela was also named Retail Info Systems News’ “Top Women in Retail Tech” in 2020 and Chain Store Age’s “Top Ten Women in Retail Technology” in 2019.