How brands can tackle the holiday season in the new normal

Anatolii Iakimets

October 21st, 2020

The holiday season in 2020 will be very different compared to the previous years. The global pandemic has changed how people shop for things. According to Selligent, 36% of respondents shop online weekly, up from 28% pre-COVID-19. This has resulted in $200.72 billion was spent online with U.S. retailers in Q2, up 44.4% year over year.

The surge of online shopping in the context of COVID makes sense, but what should everyone expect from the holiday season?

Amazon Prime day is an excellent indicator of what to expect. In 2019 Prime Day has reached $7.16 billion in sales, and this year, while Amazon has not announced its sales, based on estimates, they have surpassed $10 billion. It is beyond a reasonable doubt that retailers can expect a surge in online sales. But the holiday season will not be limited to online-only as according to the Global Connected Consumer Index Report, almost a quarter of the consumers (24%) say "they can't wait" to shop in a store.

So how can businesses make the most of the holiday season in the new normal?

To answer this question, we will look at some of the challenges that brands will face:

  1. Safety concerns. While there are health regulations and requirements to ensure both shoppers and personnel safety, the business will want to minimize interactions between everyone at the point of sale.
  2. Capacity limitations. It is not a secret for anyone that one of the critical KPI for a store is sales per square fit. While the floor area will not change, due to the restrictions, there will be fewer people allowed in-store, simultaneously putting the KPI mentioned above under pressure.
  3. Differentiation. This year everyone will double down on the online channel, so brands need to go the extra mile to stand out of the crowd and catch shoppers' attention. This includes the introduction of new unconventional channels and holiday season microsites.
  4. Increased volumes. With the increased volume of purchases through an online channel, efficient fulfillment will be more critical than ever before. Brands need to make sure they can deliver goods o their customer within a reasonable timeframe and without any disruptions.

Addressing these challenges can help businesses to make the most of this opportunity. With the limited time until the holiday season starts, brands need to act fast, so large-scale implementation projects are out of the question, and there is a need for solutions that can be deployed within several weeks. Below you can find several solutions that can be deployed rapidly to address the challenges listed above.

Mobile Self-Checkout

Mobile self-checkout solution allows customers to complete the shopping journey using their mobile phone. They can quickly scan an item, add it to the cart, checkout and pay for it without any interaction with in-store personnel. And the whole process is done solely through a web browser, without installing any native applications. This kills two birds with one stone. It allows minimizing if not eliminate contacts with sales personnel, thus increasing everyone's safety and providing a superior shopping experience with customers not having to wait in long lines at an overwhelmed point of sale.

Curbside Pickup

One of the ways for brands to increase the efficiency of their in-store operations is to use a curbside pickup. It allows customers to pick up purchased goods without entering the store. The benefits of this approach are two-fold. You minimize the risk for your customers and sales personnel. You are making the most out of your retail locations, using them as the point of purchase, and transforming it into the logistics hub for your business. According to Digital Commerce 360, the curbside pickup has gained significant traction with 42.7% of retailers offering it, compared to only 6.9% in 2019, so make sure you are not missing out and check the video below.

Embedded Commerce

To stand out from the crowd, brands can launch new microsites dedicated to a specific product line or this holiday season. But it's not just about throwing a microsite. It's essential to make it transactional, which is where Embedded Commerce can help. This solution allows us to make virtually any web touchpoint shoppable within days. But it's not just only about microsites. A brand can quickly create a self-checkout experience by embedding a buy button into any touchpoint leverages web application. A touchscreen at the point of sale is one of the possible use-cases.

Learn more

Dropship and Fulfilment Automation

During this holiday season, there will be increased pressure not just on the sales channels but also on the operations. To meet customer expectations under increased pressure of high volumes this year, brands need to streamline their processes. This becomes especially important in several business lines for several brands with different websites, retail stores, and other touchpoints. Having a single operations hub that automates inventory syncing, order routing, and shipping can significantly increase operations efficiency, reduce costs, and improve customer experience.

If you want to learn more about how Elastic Path can help you to amplify the holiday season, don't hesitate to contact us.

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Anatolii Iakimets

Anatolii is a Product Marketing Manager at Elastic Path, where he is responsible for the telecommunications and media industry.