2019 Holiday Shopping Outlook

Merchants need to be ready to provide loyalty-building customer service to consumers who will rely on their mobile devices, opt for click and collect, and head back to brick-and-mortar stores this season.

A late Thanksgiving is bound to make the 2019 holiday shopping season interesting. The last time the span from Black Friday to Christmas was this short was 2013, when retailers opened stores on Thanksgiving for the first time, extended Black Friday deals online, and kept their doors open for 24 hours during the weekend before Christmas.

Despite the shorter holiday shopping season, the National Retail Federation (NRF) is predicting a 3.8 percent to 4.3 percent increase in holiday sales over 2018, which will total between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion.

Salesforce studied when those sales are likely to occur. Although Salesforce predicts 50 percent of digital sales completed by Dec. 6, retailers may incentivize spending in the days before Thanksgiving with specials and promotions. This could result in 22 percent growth in digital sales over the same days last year.  

Shoppers Will Make Holiday Purchases on Different Channels

Deloitte’s annual holiday retail survey revealed that households, on average, are planning to spend about $1,500 this season. That spend, however, will occur on different channels. Holiday e-commerce is expected to increase by 14 percent to 18 percent. Deloitte found 59 percent of holiday shoppers plan to make purchases online and 36 percent are planning to shop in-store.

Drilling down deeper, shoppers will engage with retailers in various ways. Online shoppers will save shipping costs and add an element of instant gratification to their purchases by picking up their merchandise in-store. Shoppers may also respond to social media posts containing links to the gift items they’re looking for. Furthermore, much of that interaction won’t take place via a PC or laptop. Practical Ecommerce predicts that more than half of all US holiday retail sales will originate on mobile devices.

Capitalizing on the m-commerce trend, retailers will compete for their customers’ attention with digital content, emailing offers and delivering messaging and promotions at the point of decision in-store with mobile notifications.

All of the activity won’t be taking place on digital channels, however. Citing statistics that show all generations of shoppers prefer shopping in physical stores to online shopping, Salesforce forecasts that brands offering excellent store experiences will see a healthy ROI. And to deliver customer service, manage point of sale transactions, and keep things running, NRF predicts that retailers will hire as many as 590,000 temporary workers during the holiday season.

Are Your Clients Ready?

With the holiday shopping season ramping up, your clients may think it’s too late to make any changes that could impact their sales. However, here are some vital services you can offer now to help them make the most of the year’s biggest revenue opportunity:

  • Optimize their online storefront for mobile. Ensure your clients’ websites are easy to use and navigate, regardless of screen size.
  • Upgrade website hosting. If your client is expecting a higher volume of traffic on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, make sure their hosting plan is capable of handling it.
  • Leverage social media. Encourage your clients to advertise products and promotions on social media. Enable integration with their e-commerce or POS platforms.
  • Evaluate checkout processes. Ask your clients about areas that could be more efficient or customer experiences they’d like to improve. You may be able to suggest a new configuration that results in streamlined processes.
  • Payment options. Ensure your clients are taking advantage of all payment solution features that can benefit their businesses.

The holiday shopping season can also reveal issues that your clients didn’t notice at less hectic times. Start conversations about how, with the solutions you provide, the 2020 holiday shopping season can be even better than 2019. 


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