This holiday season, businesses need to make shopping as convenient and safe for customers as possible, whether they choose to shop on or offline. Luckily, the last few months have given brands time to test, try, and implement new experiences and ways of serving their customers. From curbside pick-up to flexible financing, there are quite a few holiday retail trends that brands are using to give customers the flexibility, convenience, and confidence they need to shop worry-free amidst the pandemic.
Here are the top holiday retail trends your business can leverage to adapt your holiday strategy to the new normal and stay ahead of your customers’ needs:
1. Curbside Pickup/Click & Collect
Click-and-collect allows customers to buy items online and collect them in-store. Some businesses even bring items straight to customers’ cars, so they never even have to step inside the stores and can minimize human contact. Early estimates expect click-and-collect to grow by 60.4% this year, with sales reaching around $58.5 billion.
2. Inventory Transparency
Customers who are willing to make the trek into physical stores want to make their visit as efficient as possible. To help them get in and out and find what they need efficiently, many brands have stepped up their inventory transparency so consumers can avoid unnecessary trips and know when it’s more convenient to just order something online. Some have even added store layouts to their mobile app experiences so customers can map out which areas of the store they need to visit before arriving.
3. Digital Payment Options
To help reduce the spread of germs via cash and card machines, many brands are introducing contactless payment options. Customers can use their smartphones to check out in-store using services like Google or Apple Pay. According to Forrester data, 19% of consumers report they are using contactless payments more during the pandemic, with 11% saying they’ve used a digital payment method for the first time because of Covid-19 concerns.
4. Flexible Financing
Another way businesses are offering customers payment flexibility is by partnering with payment systems like Klarna, Afterpay, and more. These finance options make it easier for customers to afford products and services by giving them the option to pay over installments instead of upfront. Customers don’t have to wait until payday to afford what they need and can pay over time while still getting the item today. Amid high unemployment rates and low consumer confidence, this offering can give many customers peace of mind when making routine or larger purchases.
5. User-Generated Content
While user-generated content (UGC) has been around for a while, brands are stepping up the way they incorporate it into their site designs. Many businesses have added UGC to their product images and product pages to build trust and authenticity.
In fact, 79% of consumers say interacting with user-generated content highly impacts their purchasing decisions, and Contentsquare data backs that up. We discovered that pages containing UGC have a 63% higher attractiveness rate, a 61% higher engagement rate, and a 36% higher revenue per click than pages without featured UGC.
For tips and best practices on how to best leverage user-generated content ahead of the holidays, check out our The 2020 Holiday Playbook: Creating Customer Journeys That Convert.
6. Virtual Try Ons
The downside of online shopping is that it’s harder to touch, feel, and discover new products. To help improve product discoverability and give customers the confidence to buy online, many brands are trying to bring the in-store experience online. Whether it’s glasses, makeup, jewelry, many businesses are giving customers the ability to upload a picture of themselves and see how they would look wearing a specific product.
Some brands even go a step further to use augmented reality. Using their smartphone or tablet, customers can see a product from all angles and even move it around in their space. They can see how a couch would look in their living room or get an idea of how their dining room would look with a fresh coat of blue paint. With many people still reluctant to purchase larger ticket items online, this AR functionality can give consumers peace of mind when buying items online that they would traditionally purchase in-store.
To prepare for what’s set to be a record-breaking year for online holiday sales, brands need to prioritize optimizing their digital properties in the coming weeks. For tips on how to improve cart abandonment rates, A/B test site content, and perfect personalization ahead of the holidays, check out our Holiday Readiness Hub for UX tips, brand success stories, more holiday retail trends, and upcoming workshops. You can rest easy knowing you’re prepared to give your customers an outstanding customer experience, regardless of how and where they decide to shop.
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