Monday, January 7, 2013

Holiday Shopping Trends in Clearer Focus Now

Henrik Sorensen / Getty Images
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
TIME

Link to article:
10 Big Retail Trends from the 2012 Holiday Shopping Season


Now that 2012 is over, we can look back at the last two months of holiday shopping and finally draw some conclusions. Skittish consumers needed more incentives to get out into stores or even online, meaning that shipping had to be free and fast, and big discounts continued outside Black Friday and the day after Christmas.  Meanwhile as online shopping became ever more prevalent, the lines between online and brick and mortar stores began to blur.

Excerpt: "Brick-and-Mortar and Online (Try to) Become One
If there’s one dominant trend in retail lately, it’s the utter blurring of online and offline shopping. For quite a while, shoppers have viewed the two modes of transaction as basically interchangeable. Retailers with a presence on the web and in real stores seem to have finally embraced the idea that both segments must be partners sending the same message to shoppers. In the past, it was almost as if the people running a retailer’s website had no contact with the people running the actual stores. Prices varied frequently, and often, products sold online weren’t sold in stores, and vice versa, leading to confused, frustrated shoppers. Early on, a retailer’s presence in social media might have come as a result of a few ambitious young interns, if there was a presence at all. Today, on the other hand, retailers and analysts talk nonstop about the need to combine online and offline sales efforts, with phrases like 'multiscreen shopper,' 'omnichannel shopping,' and 'cross-platform marketing' popping up regularly.

Retailers understand that 'showrooming' is commonplace, and that it’s not necessarily a bad thing to encourage a combined online-offline shopping experience. In fact, according to one survey, 91% of consumers wound up in a store because of something they saw online, and 77% admit to researching products while inside stores. Retailers have no choice but to embrace the 'omnichannel' shopper. While they’re actively trying to lure shoppers into physical stores with deals and promotions, they’re simultaneously ramping up efforts to draw consumers to their websites. The results have boosted online sales, but because of the challenges of creating a truly unified online-offline experience, there remain instances of consumer frustration due to confusion over what is sold where, canceled orders, price variations between the web and brick-and-mortar, and more. This remains a work in progress.

More Shipping Deals—Speedy, Free, You Name It
In the same way that 30% or 40% off has become the starting point for getting shoppers’ attention during the holidays, consumers now often demand free shipping in order to consider an online purchase. Accordingly, free shipping has become almost universal during the holidays, and throughout the year really."

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