What’s in store for the holiday season?

By Team Session AI on November 6, 2020

Predictions for the 2020 retail holiday season

Although the holidays may be weeks away, when it comes to retail, the holiday season is in full swing. In previous years, Halloween marked the informal end of the fall season in stores—with costumes and pumpkins replaced with trees and holiday décor—and Black Friday kicked off holiday shopping for a large portion of customers. However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this holiday season is anticipated to look different than previous years.

When it comes to the 2020 holiday season, what should retailers expect? Here are some of the top predictions for how the holiday season will differ this year:

  1. More online shopping

    One of the most notable changes to the holiday season will come from a dramatic shift to online shopping. 67% of shoppers expect to make their holiday purchases online to avoid crowds and exposure. With a larger portion of customers engaging online, retailers must deliver engaging and memorable digital experiences across channels, including web, in-app, tablet, and voice recognition.

  2. Shorter shopping window

    Despite the impact the pandemic has had on shipping and fulfillment, 41% of shoppers report they don’t plan to shop any earlier for holiday gifts this year. In fact, the average shopping window is predicted to be significantly shorter in 2020 (5.9 weeks) than it was in 2019 (7.4 weeks). With consumers not adjusting shopping behavior to account for delays, it is vital for stores to dynamically update offerings based on real-time availability. For instance, retailers can utilize geo-location to identify a consumer’s local store, then serve up ads for in-stock items available for same-day pickup.

  3. Safety is a top priority

    While in-person shopping is expected to decrease due to COVID-19, a number of consumers still intend to shop at brick and mortar stores during the holiday season. However, 50% of consumers want stores to follow guidelines to help keep shoppers and employees safe, and 59% state it is important that stores are not too crowded. As federal and local regulations around in-person shopping shift, it will be vital for retailers to automate communications and updates around the safety precautions and preventative measures being taken at a customer’s local store.

  4. Prioritize contactless purchases

    Hand-in-hand with increased safety concerns regarding in-person shopping has been a rise in contactless purchases. Since 2019, the number of shoppers planning to use curbside pickup has more than doubled. In addition, the average spending of online shopping in comparison to in-store shopping has increased dramatically year over year, with a forecasted increase of 5% in average online spending and decrease of 8% in average in-store spending. This shift has made the integration of the online and brick-and-mortar shopping experience more integral than ever before.

  5. Decrease in retail holiday purchases

    About 47% of shoppers are not planning to shop on major holiday retail event days, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. As a result, retailers must make an extra effort to engage customers on a 1:1 basis throughout the holiday season. To do so, retailers must be able to use predictive insights to understand the combination of a customer’s historical purchases, environmental context, and real-time behavior to intervene with the right message at the right moment.

Keeping the holiday season merry and bright with AI

In an unprecedented holiday season, retailers have been challenged to react and re-adjust their traditional strategies in line with shifting day-to-day conditions. At the same time, they must ensure that changes do not come at the expense of the customer experience. In order to do so, retailers require a personalization platform that can integrate the in-person and online experience to create a seamless and relevant customer journey.

To learn more about the important role personalization plays in bringing the traditional holiday experience to the digital world. contact Session AI today

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