This Holiday season retailers are eagerly anticipating making the most after two successive years badly affected by the pandemic. They are working harder than ever to play it smart, putting out the best of their offers, trying new strategies to entice customers, and investing in retail technologies that can drive things for the better.
Fingers crossed will the Black Friday sale go great, or what channels will the buyers prefer for exchanging Christmas gifts? The looming fear of inflation, disruption of the supply chain, and changed buyer habits post-pandemic however raises apprehension about how retail will perform this season.
Retailers shouldn’t just worry but use every ounce of their business intelligence gained from the pandemic scenario to build effective strategies. Holiday shopping trends of 2022 say most buyers now prefer shopping or at least browsing online and retailers should take the help of retail technologies that will drive the correct customer traffic. IT support infrastructure should be ramped up to support from supply chain to POS accordingly.
From omnichannel shopping trends to AR-assisted trials, we will look at some of the few technological trends that are going to heavily influence the retail industry during the holiday season
Omnichannel Hybrid Customer Journey
Omnichannel retail and E-Commerce have become a part of today’s retail DNA. The pandemic has introduced a large number of people to online retail shopping. Furthermore, about 63% are likely to continue with their online shopping experience.
A new generation of Hybrid shoppers is adapting to the BOPIS (Buy Online Pick Up In Store) or Curbside Pickup model. Integrating their digital shopping and in-store buying journey is the future of retail.
The use of various SaaS platforms and CRMs allows retailers to collect a vast amount of consumer data nowadays. However, data alone is not powerful unless combined with Business Intelligence.
Customers love personalized experiences nowadays and getting irrelevant results when searching for a product online is a big turn-off. A 2021 survey conducted by The Harris Poll and Google Cloud found that 94% of U.S. consumers ditched an online shopping session because they received irrelevant search results on a retailer’s website.
Consequently, they may never return for shopping on the same site with a fair number of them leaving negative reviews.
Business Analytics applied to customer data can help come up with easy to navigate UI and create some fascinating user experiences.
Analytics Driven Buying
Analytics-driven buying is the way to go for future retailers and consumers. Retail analytics use big data to optimize pricing, supply chain management, and user experience.
Have you heard of loyalty programs that ask you to fill in a lot of information in return for discounted shopping? It is how businesses are collecting information about you to create a personalized shopping experience.
Using past searches and buying history of a customer and recommending items based on that, Amazon has generated 29% of its sales revenue. Another interesting fact is about forecasting in retail, Walgreens and Pantenes tracked weather data to anticipate an increase in humidity and pushed ads for anti-frizz hair-care products.
It is very easy to use app development frameworks like AWS and create retail apps in a short time. Cloud-based customer support offered by tools like Amazon Connect will prove helpful in handling the large number of traffic during this festive season.
In fact, cloud will play a very important role in supporting data-driven analytics for the tailor-made buying experience. A surge of traffic and business data during the holiday season needs to be managed through a scalable data platform which only a cloud-based infrastructure can offer. Small retailers were introduced to a variety of cloud-based tools and PaaS solutions during the epidemic. They may consequently utilize them with ease while leaving concerns about management, scaling, and security to service providers
Changing Supply Chain Management Strategies
The Supply Chain managers are improvising their strategy to mitigate the risk arising from a lack of inventory or cancellation of an order due to delay. Retail technologies that can track the presence of vendors across the supply chain network are becoming all the more important.
Organizations are monitoring inventory, automating stock reordering, and keeping track of deliveries all in real time through IoT enabled devices in real time offering end-to-end visibility. As 52% of online shoppers are likely to abandon their carts and shop elsewhere if there’s at least one item they can’t find. This phenomenon called search abandonment can cost retailers more than $300 billion annually in the United States alone.
Automation of the warehouse leveraging the power of AI and robotics adds to supply chain agility. In Fact, for effectively predicting client behavior, AI in conjunction with business intelligence is essential. Significantly, crucial stocking decisions can be made, saving the merchant a lot of money.
XR Driven Technologies
According to a Bloomberg report, the Metaverse market is to reach a valuation of nearly $800 billion by 2024 and the increasing use of AR/VR technologies for retail buying is a testimonial to that.
Virtual pop-up stores and virtual try-ons are becoming popular to create an immersive retail experience. Walmart acquired Zeekit a virtual fitting room company to create tools. Now you can virtually try on that Christmas Sweater or Polka dot stockings from the comfort of your home through a mobile app and place an order if it suits your taste.
Retailers like Tommy Hillfiger, and Burberry are already experimenting the new product launches with virtual pop-up stores in Metaverse. Experiential retail is helping consumers shop from a single location saving their time while increasing exposure to a host of products.
AR (Augmented Reality) also reduces return rate as customers can see, and experience the product before making informed choices to buy and avoid disappointment on delivery.
Microsoft is building a VR retail experience, with the help of Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Mesh, and Microsoft Azure Digital Twins, in its company hackathon. As a feature, customers can physically visit a device put up for sale at a nearby store and scan with their phone to see 3D overlays of the device’s features, colorways, and price points.
Although inflation gives a browbeating, Deloitte’s annual holiday retail report forecasts eCommerce sales growth of 12.8% to 14.3%, YOY, during the 2022-23 holiday season. From dynamic pricing and coupon creation using business intelligence to handling mass traffic on cloud-managed online stores, retail is set up for a lot of new offerings this holiday season.