In-​Store Shopping May Be Best Holiday Gift of All

BY Adam Ambro
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The stories are all over the internet. The 2021 holiday shopping season is going to be unlike any we’ve seen before. We’ve already written many stories this season about consumer spending plans. Whether it’s supply chain shortages, or companies struggling to find employees, or advertisers struggling to come up with digital advertising solutions, there are more questions than answers at this point. However, according to Salesforce, one solution for advertisers this holiday season would be to evolve the in-​store shopping experience for consumers.

What’s changing about in-​store shopping?

According to Salesforce, the role of the store associate has fundamentally changed during the COVID-​19 pandemic. No longer are they only responsible for store operations and checkouts. Their role has broadened to:

  • Fulfillment experts: picking and packing online orders
  • Customer service agents: providing service, advice, and “clienteling” — in-​store and at home
  • E‑commerce specialists: enabling an endless aisle for customers that did enter the store
  • Social media managers: becoming brand advocates within their personal networks

As parts of the world reopen, the continued blurring between the physical and digital experiences opens the possibility to redefine the associate’s role,” writes Salesforce. “This marriage brings greater opportunity for job satisfaction, upward mobility, and unique experiences for career development.”

More than six in ten global online orders are predicted to be influenced by brick-​and-​mortar locations, either by helping to place an online order or by fulfilling it via curbside pickup options. While labor shortages are wreaking havoc in the lead up to the holidays, it's becoming more critical than ever for marketers to meet rising consumer expectations of in-​store shopping.

While store associate roles are becoming more attractive, we anticipate that the U.S. retail industry will have a labor shortage of approximately 350,000 workers heading into the November and December peak period,” wrote Salesforce. “We predict that this shift to $15 per hour for store associates will continue into the holidays regardless of retailer size. Furthermore, we project that the median hourly pay for store associates will hit $19 per hour in the same timeframe. This means that U.S. retailers will, on average, spend an extra $3,000 per store associate between November and December. This strikes another blow to smaller retailers who are already struggling to hold on.”

However, your clients can turn the holiday shopping period into an opportunity to build long-​term relationships with customers whose expectations have been exceeded.

No more holiday “cookies”

Salesforce points out that with global legislation and changing consumer preferences giving way to increased internet privacy, marketing departments are facing one of the greatest disruptions they've seen in the last five years. Tracking user activity through third-​party data across the web and mobile applications is expected to become more expensive, if not impossible, and first-​party data, data that organizations collect and manage on their consumers, will be king.

Therefore, the new, hybrid in-​store shopping experience will need to be a part of your advertiser’s plans going into the holiday season. That would include mixing the standard in-​store customer experience one would naturally expect, mixed with new ways of consumer data gathering.

One hybrid approach would be looking into loyalty programs. According to Salesforce, while programs are designed to increase customer lifetime value through personalized and relevant engagement, they could also create a lot more noise. They predict:

  • Over 1,000 new programs will be introduced in the U.S. in the next 6 months.
  • The share of online orders redeeming loyalty points will increase by 76% in November and December.
  • 50% of new loyalty signups are at risk of going dark after December.

And with AdMall, powered by SalesFuel, you’ll have more research to back up the Salesforce information. Because according to AdMall’s AudienceSCAN data for Loyalty Card/​App Users, 12.5% of US adults have at least 10 loyalty cards/​programs/​apps that they use regularly.

Your clients need to know that the 2021 holiday shopping season is going to be like none other. Making sure they have creative ways to gather consumer data and ensuring their in-​store shopping experiences are second to none are two great ways to keep customers engaged over the next few months.

Photo by Any Lane from Pexels