There is no question that this year has been different in a way that no one could have envisaged. The dramatic impact of Covid-19 on every individual at the beginning of the year was overwhelming and as the year goes on each month provides a new set of rules, guidelines and ways of living that we are all continuously adapting to. As the autumn and winter months fast approach we don’t know what the remainder of the year will be like living with Covid-19. What will a Covid-19 Christmas look like for businesses and consumers?
Online shopping has always been appealing for several reasons, including the ease of browsing products within the comfort of your own home or while on your daily commute. The recent surge in online shopping due to lockdown and the risks of entering shared spaces during the virus peak earlier in the year means consumers have developed a whole new level of online shopping commitments that have increased online sales dramatically. Will this continue as the festive season approaches and what about the physical high street stores that are usually jam-packed during the run-up to Christmas?
Since lockdown rules eased allowing non-essential stores to re-open there is strong evidence that shoppers still desire the familiar retail experiences that in-store shopping provides, such as seeing an item up close, feeling its quality, browsing, instant information and demonstrations and the added benefit of taking a purchase away there and then. It is clear from the footfall that consumers are wary and with a high increase in unemployment and many individuals in the UK being furloughed, shoppers are a lot more budget-conscious in how they spend. This means it is vital that business now, more than ever, reach out in the right ways.
Even with online sales increasing physical high street stores are still vital when it comes to increasing consumers’ confidence. Knowing stores will accept returns and provide guidance and information on faulty products means consumers are more likely to shop with you and commit to sales. Ensuring your businesses online information is up to date and provides clear information on your Covid-19 health and safety procedures for in-store purchases will also increase consumers’ confidence and reduce the risk of them visiting a competitor.
When it comes to festive online sales shoppers will not only being cautious of their spending but they will also want to feel confident that they are making the right decisions. Adapting the way you communicate and engage with them is vital to ensure they feel confident spending after a difficult few months.
Customers want to know that you have the items they need so be sure to update stock regularly. Using inventory data could be a simple way to ensure you don’t miss out on vital custom. Local Inventory Ads (LIA) or direct product landing pages for those items in high demand or that are selling fast could be the right move this festive season.
Location-based adverts are also shown to increase in-store sales, whereas without it was proven more purchases were solely made online. When it comes to buying gifts for others many consumers may be more tempted to research online and buy offline (ROBO) to ensure what they see is what they get.
What is clear is that with consumers observing their spending habits a lot more closely, enhancing them with incentives such as free online delivery, promotions and in-store discounts will do better advertised across all platforms, ensuring you capture the widest possible audience. Take this opportunity now to increase engagement with your consumer. In-App tracking is a further way to help you to optimise the customer experience and provide a more engaging service.
So as we move ever closer to the festive season and seasonal shopping events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Amazon Prime Day fast approach many consumers will be starting to turn their attention to seasonal spending opportunities; selecting how they want to spend their money and with whom. With high street stores taking on a showroom like venue and consumers evidently combining shopping styles it is more important than ever to consider the impact of your online presence but also the benefit your physical store will have this Christmas. Consumers want to spend they just want to do it with care, consideration and in a safe environment.