The verdict is out and the experts agree. This holiday shopping season is going to be soft at best and could potentially be one of the worst in a while. These experts point to changing spending patterns as consumers once again start investing in big-ticket items at the expense of traditional holiday purchases. While good for the overall economy, particularly housing and the car market, this shift will further complicate things for both brick-and-mortar and online retail businesses.
1) Promotions are starting early:
Holiday-focused promotions are starting earlier and will last longer. What is traditionally Black Friday is now an all week event, and Cyber Monday is now Cyber Week. In preparation for these longer events, retailers are starting their drum rolling early in the season.
2) Price wars are reinvigorated:
The focus is on price this holiday season. Brace for price wars not only between the online e-commerce platforms, but also between brick-and-mortar and online retail businesses. Right now, inventories are high and retailers are focused on purging their second quarter stocks, while also pushing the latest holiday arrivals from the Far East. This means a flood of opportunities and deals for consumers at prices not seen before.
3) Right price vs. lowest price:
As retailers face depressed spending levels, they will try to outsmart competitors with creative promotional pricing and assortment tactics. This is when price intelligence technology comes to the rescue. These technologies need to run 24/7 during the holiday season to ensure you’re presenting the right offer to convert that customer.
4) Do it fast or be last!
That means speed and accuracy. Retail pricers need to make sure their pricing tactics are not obsolete or outplayed by an online or brick-and-mortar competitor. Prices are traditionally set in advance, but might need to be rapidly adjusted. Products need to fly off the shelves! Dynamic pricing is a must.
5) Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday matter:
What used to be a one-day event called Black Friday is now a two week shopping extravaganza. If your retail business is still stuck in the one-day preparation mode, it is essentially missing billions of dollars in spending that have moved online. The case for multi-channel marketing has never been more pressing. Cyber Friday or Cyber Week cannot be neglected.
There are things beyond your control such as the number of shopping days, the way the holidays line up in the calendar, the potential for bad weather, climatic disasters and irrational politicians! There are also things you can plan for ahead. My recommendation is to approach this holiday season with a breakthrough mind. There is going to be a big bang with now two separate major events. The combination of Black Friday and Cyber Monday gives retailers a unique opportunity to capture shoppers’ attention and wallets. It also requires a different approach than the traditional Black Friday model. This is the new world of multi-channel marketing. Are you being creative and disruptive enough?