How to keep technology shoppers from buying on their
screens and instead, buying in your stores this holiday season
Highly competitive, the consumer electronics market at the beginning of this year was predicted to hit a record-breaking $351 billion in retail revenues, indicating a 3.9% increase from the previous year. Not surprising, considering the evolution and infiltration of smart devices and Artificial Intelligence (Alexa, play the morning news) into our daily lives. Mobility, digitalization, the Internet of Things (IoT), the rise of VR, and increasing connectivity are just a few of the emerging technology trends significant to this industry’s growth, with the top 5 revenue categories for this year being smartphones, laptops, televisions, automotive electronics, and tablets. With the holidays—specifically Black
Friday and Cyber Monday—just around the corner, technology retailers are eager to get their share of the pie.
The question now isn’t whether shoppers will buy, because they will, but how and where they will make their purchases. With online shopping revolutionizing the consumer experience and major retail giants looking to dominate the online market as well, (hello Amazon and Best Buy), traditional CE retailers need to significantly improve their approach and methods if they want to increase foot traffic and in-store purchases, especially since the holidays can mean making or breaking it.
Mobile sales account for
59.6 % of orders overall.
Shopping for the holidays:
who, when, & where
Recheck your calendar for those crucial shopping dates: you might have missed the memo this year.
We’re in the final quarter of the year and it looks like retail sales will end on a high note. According to PwC’s 2018 Holiday Outlook report, consumers are planning to spend more this year than last year, with spending increasing by 5% and top 3 categories being gifts, travel, and entertainment. The two major groups to keep an eye on are Millennials and Gen Z. So, when and where will these big spenders be making their purchases? PwC’s report goes on to say that for the holidays, ‘91% of consumers will shop in stores while 84% will shop online’. However, ‘according to the National Retail Federation, more people are choosing to skip Black Friday shopping madness to do their holiday shopping online. During the intense Black Friday to Cyber Monday shopping frenzy in 2017, Shopify saw mobile sales account for 59.6 percent of orders overall and 64 percent of Black Friday sales—an increase of 10 percent year-over-year’. What’s happening is a shift in consumer behavior—technology shoppers and consumers, in
general, aren’t only looking to buy on those ‘prime’’ dates. Black Friday has now transformed into ‘Black November’, with some shopping as early as October. Insights from Google also point out the change in trend—’...shopping is not centralized to the typical promotion days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday. People are always shopping—before, during, and after the holidays. In fact, only about 18% of shoppers consolidate all of their shopping to the Black Friday-to-Cyber Monday weekend, and by the Black Friday-Cyber Monday period, shoppers have already completed 42% of their holiday shopping. An always-on strategy is critical to reach people whenever they need you—not just when it suits your campaign calendar’.
The times have changed and retailers have the opportunity to reach out to their consumers and get them engaged way before the mad rush for spending. This phenomenon tells us only one thing: the shopping experience is no longer (if it ever was) black and white, offline vs online, on mobile or otherwise—but is an amalgamation of diverse channels. The customer journey can be a long and winding one and it’s the smart brands that know when and where the crucial moments are and act upon them.
By the Black Friday-Cyber Monday period, shoppers have already completed 42% of their holiday shopping. An always-on strategy is
critical to reach people whenever they need you, not just when it suits your campaign calendar.
This season’s bread and butter
(or fruitcake): the physical store
‘While so many articles every year are written and devoted to readying e-commerce strategies, there are hardly any articles that talk about getting stores ready for the holiday season. Brands and retailers must not forget to focus on the bread and butter of the holiday season—the physical store. In fact, sales in-store accounted the majority of all holiday sales last year. While online shopping is a critical part of any brand’s strategy, consumers still appreciate the personal experience of shopping in store’.
The holidays are a hectic time for everyone, so why aren’t retailers more prepared? Consumer behavior is changing, so patterns are changing. With CE being one of the most searched online categories, it’s no surprise that consumers are participating in the ‘research online, buy offline’ (ROBO) trend. For electronics last year, it was found that 41% of shoppers read reviews first before making their purchase at the store. Consumers are eager for information and will use a variety of sources to validate their intended purchases. Digitalization and the rise of mobile can be leveraged as part of an omni-channel approach to deliver holistic, customer experiences.
According to a study conducted by StellaService, their research found that ‘among the top three methods for researching electronics products before making a purchase, two were based online while the third involved in-person engagement within a store. Overall, most people (63%), found that the retailer’s website provided the best means of looking at products with visits to the manufacturer’s website coming in at a close second place (60%). Although these numbers show the growing influence of online research within the retail world, over half of the participants (57%) still use stores to discover and learn about products’. The results also showed that 81% still chose in-store retail locations when it came down to purchasing. (Sounds like you better start giving your event staffing agencies a call).
Like bees to honey: retailers on
the hunt to find that sweet spot
A more streamlined holiday strategy—hint:
‘holistic’ & ‘omnichannel’
So what exactly is driving these numbers? What continues to draw customers in? In general, customers crave memorable, personal experiences—for technology shoppers, this means being able to test and interact with the product and to engage with expert sales staff, even brand ambassadors, who are genuinely enthusiastic about what they’re selling. According to a recent Criterio report, ‘42% of omnishoppers said that knowledgeable salespeople were a top reason to shop in-store—close to the 50% who value discounts.’ While price will always be a factor, it is not the only factor. Being
able to tailor a truly personal experience for your shoppers is what’s going to get them biting, or in this case, buying.
So what are brands doing to prepare for the holiday season? Taking a page from the omnichannel handbook and ‘on the heels of the closing of Toys “R” Us, Target announced its plans to nearly double its holiday toy selection this holiday season, including exclusive inventory and a digital version of its gift-giving catalog to help ease the shopping experience for Santas everywhere (fewer stops with expanded inventory and digital integration to help ease the experience). Further supporting the customer-centric strategy, Target is hiring 20% more seasonal associates this year. (Holiday tip: Consider engaging the services of robust event staffing agencies to help your people man the front lines).
Walmart announced early this year that it will retain 18,000 personal shoppers fulfilling online orders from store shelves and 17,000 checkout hosts focused on keeping the process efficient and positive. The holiday season will be an opportunity for retailers like Walmart and Target, or even smaller chains and brands, to highlight their omnichannel strengths—services like click-and-collect and ship-to-home’.
Digital and in-store experiences don’t have to be kept separate, in fact, they can complement each other. Insights from Google found that ‘31% of holiday shoppers said they searched for images or videos before they went in store to shop’ and ‘50% of shoppers said that they used online video while actually shopping in store’. When brands create a holistic story for their consumers online and offline, they are able to reach them when it truly matters, delivering unforgettable brand experiences.
While online shopping is a critical part of any brand’s strategy, consumers still appreciate the personal experience of shopping in store.
Preparing for the holidaze:
ready your checklists
So looking at the data, learning from different companies, we’ve put together a few recommendations for brands to capture their consumers in-store:
Make (sales) people your greatest asset.
It’s basic, it’s clichéd, and yet, still so often overlooked or underestimated. Aside from having enough hands to man the deck, you need to hire the cream of the crop. Consumers want to engage with sales people they feel they can trust, almost like a friend even. They don’t want pushy and they certainly don’t want bored or unprepared. And if you lack the time or resources to fully prepare, you can always work with an agency like Attack! to add fully trained and highly qualified brand ambassadors to your team. No sweat.
Check your inventory.
Consumer insights from Google also went on to say that ‘41% of shoppers wish that stores would do a better job of sharing inventory’. While having discounts are great, they won’t be much use if you don’t have what your consumers want to buy. So give them what they want; make sure you’ve analyzed and planned ahead so that you won’t show up empty-handed and turn paying customers out the door.
Create experiences that fill and stimulate the senses.
Shoppers will always be after something different and while that may be exhausting for some retailers, you don’t have to jump through hoops or break the bank to stand out: just get creative. Visually appealing, experiential displays, VR tours/programs, app integration, and interactive demos are just the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible.
Align physical and digital so that you’re telling a consistent, compelling story.
It’s important to make sure you present a consistent front across the board—you don’t want shoppers to reconsider visiting your store just because your website isn’t up to date or helpful. From your website to your social platforms, corporate events to marketing tours and all the other avenues your company uses to communicate with your market—having a consistent front helps assure them that you as a retailer care about serving them in the best way possible.
Make it a home run: don’t fail at the checkout.
So you have great staff, enough products to keep everyone happy, even hired brand ambassadors...but then the checkout lines are long (which are even more of a nightmare when you have last minute, frazzled shoppers). To ensure that they won’t abandon ship, consider equipping your staff with mobile systems for faster, easier payment processes. You could even offer the option to Click and Collect.
At the end of the day, remember that you’re there to make life (specifically these holidays) easier and while you can’t help them baste a turkey for Thanksgiving or RSVP to all those pre-Christmas dinners, a smooth, enjoyable in-store shopping experience is certainly up your alley (or aisle).
When brands can create an authentic, holistic story for their consumers online and offline, they deliver truly unforgettable brand experiences.
Always bring it back to
The holidays are a hectic time for everyone—more so when you’re unprepared and doing things last minute. For retailers and brands, the important thing to focus on is not the startling headlines, the status of the economy, or other retailers closing shop—it’s your consumers.
Don’t participate in the madness and lose your head
(or your sales). Stick to what’s working but don’t be afraid to test and retest other strategies. Believe it or not, consistent, strategic hard work does pay off
(you can thank Santa later).
So, before you go and get another cup of eggnog (or pumpkin spice) here’s what we’ll leave you with:
Beware of changing patterns and behaviors and adjust accordingly. What were considered crucial dates last year could be different this year. Don’t assume, find out what’s really going on. And don’t follow the headlines, follow the data.
Experiment: test and retest your strategies.
Don’t be afraid to shake things up and tread into unknown territory—whether that be partnering with event staffing agencies for the first time or ditching corporate events this year—be open to taking on a new approach.
Connect all year round, not just during the holidays. Remember, it’s all about authenticity. Your consumers will relate and respond positively if they feel that you’re reaching out to them consistently and are genuinely interested in what they want.
Remember that personalization is key. Whether it’s digital or in-store, at your corporate events or marketing tours, consumers look for and remember tailored, personalized experiences; after all, everyone—including you—remembers the last time a brand made them feel special.
Ensure that you have enough to go around for everyone. A blanket statement that can cover a myriad of in-store factors such as: improving the quality and quantity of your staff (it’s a basic tip that cannot be stressed enough); sharing inventory; offering faster payment methods (mPOS system), ensuring that there are enough checkout areas to reduce lines and waiting time; offering the option to buy online and collect in-store; and allowing shoppers to browse your website/watch product videos inside.
Don’t just know what your consumers want, find out how and when they want it. Know what devices your consumers are using to help them shop, find out what websites they’re looking into, what platforms they’re on, what keywords they’re using. There’s a constant dialogue happening—shoppers sharing/reviewing/rating—so tap in, listen,
learn, and apply.
1) Consumer Technology Association. (2018). 2018 Tech Industry Revenue to Reach Record $351 Billion, Says CTA. Retrieved from: https://www.cta.tech/News/Press-Releases/2018/January/2018-Tech-Industry-Revenue-to-Reach-Record-$351-Bi.aspx
2) PwC. (2018). 2018 Holiday Outlook. Retrieved from: https://www.pwc.com/us/en/retail-consumer/assets/pwc-2018-holiday-outlook-final-report.pdf
3) Signifyd. (2018). The Consumer Electronics Industry’s Digital Transformation. Retrieved from: https://cloud.kapostcontent.net/pub/fb37845a-b0ad-4279-bf86-8abead0a64c7/consumer-electronics-e-book?kui=wum-HU6GwSyG7EcGEo7o5g
4) Eberhard, Emily. (2018, September). Holiday Shoppers are Begging Brands for Help. Are You Listening? Retrieved from: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/holiday-shopping-behavior/
5) Mangtani, Nitin. (2018, October 17). Are Your Stores as Ready as Apple’s for the Holiday Season? Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nitinmangtani/2018/10/17/are-your-stores-as-ready-as-apple-for-the-holiday-season/#7c2d36bc3dcc
6) Cranwell, Ross. (2017, March 30). Study Finds Consumers Prefer Buying Electronics In-Store Versus Online. Retrieved from: https://stellaservice.com/2017/03/30/study-finds-consumers-prefer-buying-electronics-store-versus-online-2/
7) Criterio (2018). Omnishopping in the Connected World: Consumer Electronics Category Analysis. Retrieved from: https://www.criteo.com/insights/criteo-consumer-electronics-shopping-trends-2018/
8) Barr, Steven. (2018, October 2). Shoppers Are Ready To Spend This Holiday Season; Here’s How Retailers Can Pounce’. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenbarr/2018/10/02/shoppers-are-ready-to-spend-this-holiday-season-and-heres-why/#31cd32cbbe4e
9) Think with Google (2017-2018). Data from: Holiday shoppers are begging for help from brands. Are you listening? Retrieved from: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/data-collections/holiday-shopping-behavior/
10) Eberhard, Holiday Shoppers are Begging Brands for Help.