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Deloitte: Stores to win out over online on Black Friday

BY Marianne Wilson

There is increased momentum for in-store shopping heading into the upcoming holiday weekend.

Seventy percent of consumers who plan to shop on Black Friday plan to do so in stores, while 47% plan to shop online, down from 55% who said they planned to shop online last year, according to a survey from Deloitte. Three-quarters of Americans plan to shop over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the survey found. People surveyed plan to spend an average of $427 between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, up from their intentions to spend $400 in last year’s survey.

The momentum in stores is expected to continue through the weekend, as 52% plan to shop in-store Saturday, compared with 24% online, a drop from 36% online in last year’s survey.

In other findings:

• Despite the showing in stores, shoppers expect to spend 52% of their holiday weekend budget online and 46% in physical stores.

• Nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents plan to shop online on Cyber Monday.

• Early-morning Black Friday shoppers will outspend others, as those shopping between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. plan to spend an average of $225. Those shopping at 6 a.m. expect to spend $147, followed by $161 between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.

• Socializing is a primary motivator for spending time in retail stores, as 64% plan to shop in-store with family or friends over the weekend.

• Traditional department stores are the No.1 physical store destination for the weekend, with 51% of shoppers planning to visit them, followed by mass merchants at 39% and electronics/office supply/computer stores at 38%.

• Nearly four in 10 (37%) people surveyed say they haven’t started any of their holiday shopping yet.

• Clothing and accessories are the top item people plan to buy over the weekend, cited by 65% of respondents, followed by electronics (55%) and toys and hobby items (47%).

• Regardless of where people shop, many will rely on digital shopping tools for assistance. Thirty-eight percent expect to buy something online while in-store due to better pricing and/or price matching, and 36% say they’ll be influenced by deals from a mobile device while in-store over Thanksgiving weekend.

• Consumers also may not have much tolerance for website performance issues, as 46% said they’ll use another retailer rather than wait if an online site has technical problems.

“Consumers are gearing up to increase spending, and while online is expected to pull more of shoppers’ budgets, there is still a healthy outlook for traffic in the stores, particularly on Black Friday,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and U.S. retail, wholesale and distribution leader. “That’s a tremendous opportunity to elevate the customer experience and create a strong rapport to drive sales. It starts with the digital part of the shopping journey, delivering creative and personalized promotions and touch-points that create inspiration before the holiday weekend. That follows with an in-store experience that delights with displays, merchandise and seasonal atmosphere, along with services that make it easy for customers to find unique items and make quick transactions.”

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Loyalty Beyond the Holidays: Brand purpose crucial to long-term customer loyalty

BY Jill Standish

The holiday season is no longer the shopping calendar’s defining moment. Retailers that coast through the rest of the year will find themselves missing out: shoppers now hunt for bargains year-round, both online and in store, and whether it’s May or November they’re consciously rewarding those brands with which they’ve forged strong, meaningful, distinctive relationships.

Consumers want to feel a connection to a brand and support the ones that reflect their values, so retailers need to go back to the basics and define exactly what they stand for. And it must be authentic: today’s consumers can recognize fake branding from a mile off – and social media gives them the tools to allow this to go viral.

Shopping around
Relationships rule, but – as ever – consumers also want a good deal. Just 29% of the U.S. consumers that responded to Accenture’s Holiday Shopping Survey say they are optimistic about their financial situation going into the holiday period, compared with 34% last year. So, they are shopping around: they’re nearly twice as likely to buy gift items at individual stores to get the best prices rather than buying them all in one place (48% vs. 25%). And more than four in five say they check Amazon before looking elsewhere.

In the past, these cash-strapped consumers would have hunted for these bargains on high-profile, one-off shopping days, but now are also finding them at other times: Sixty-four percent say they shop for holiday gifts throughout the year, with 44% saying they’re less inclined to shop on Black Friday because they get equally good discounts on other days.

The good news
Black Friday and other peak shopping days are no longer a silver bullet for retailers, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to reach new consumers. The smartest retailers are using the holidays to engage meaningfully with shoppers who are new to their brand, offering distinctive, memorable experiences that lay the foundations for a year-round relationship.

Our survey highlights some clear and obvious must-haves for retailers. Half of respondents say that a convenient shopping experience online, including easy checkout and purchasing through mobile apps, are positively affecting their holiday spend in 2017.

Obvious as this seems, these are table stakes and with today’s consumers quick to switch brands, how can brands secure their share of the festive dollar and keep consumers coming back? They need to dig deeper and ask what their brand really means to consumers, what it can do for them, and what makes it unique.

Here are four things to keep top of mind:

1. Keep it real
If there is a strong story behind the product or the retail brand, tell it. Let the consumer know why you started and what makes you unique. This could be about your origin, your product sourcing strategy or your dedication to human interest groups.

Whatever the case, this message needs to be experienced whether the consumer is hearing about your brand through advertising, shopping with you digitally on your website or in your stores. Your brand heritage and purpose could be the very reason why employees like working for your brand. In which case, store employees can graduate from being cahiers to being storytellers and brand-ambassadors.

2. Open up
More and more, and especially as ethically minded millennials and Generation Z make their mark on the world, honesty is the beating heart of any meaningful customer relationship.

Brands that are not transparent about their workings can come unstuck — rapidly and painfully. In contrast, those with the confidence to share insights into their business models, supply chains and sustainability credentials build powerful relationships with their consumers, handing them the information they need to make ethical purchasing decisions.

Some retailers are sharing information on their websites about the cost of production and the supply chain. Perhaps they are upfront about the cost of returns by giving the consumer a discount if they promise not to return. This allows the retailer to create a discount that is rooted in transparency: the customer knows why the item is cheaper than elsewhere, and has greater trust than in a standard holiday-season discount.

3. Don’t lose the human touch
Technology has revolutionized the retail landscape, and Accenture’s research finds that U.S. consumers plan to do more than half their holiday shopping from the comfort of their home (54%) this year rather than in person at stores (46%).

As tech drives change in retail by creating new opportunities around personalization and data-driven insight, the most successful brands are going to be those that don’t also lose sight of the human perspective. Being human can manifest itself in the way you communicate with a consumer both digitally and in-person in store. Without the human element, retailers’ advertising and online presence can get lost in the digital noise that consumers encounter every day. Some of the biggest disruptors have therefore balanced digital prowess with human understanding.

With three-quarters of U.S. consumers say they are likely to shop for a product online before purchasing in a retail store, how will your voice be heard and remembered? Keeping it human is a great start. Simple language that is more conversational and fun may make the difference. And let’s not forget the store employee. The best laid marketing and product strategies can fall apart by a store employee that is having a bad day. With 79% of our respondents planning to visit a store to see a product before purchasing online, the store staff will certainly matter.

4. Inspire the consumer
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. consumers in the Accenture research say their shopping experience would be easier if they could get ideas for gifts for holidays and special occasions, and for people for whom they don’t regularly shop. More than half, meanwhile, say that online “wishlists” would improve their shopping experience.

The holiday shopper is busy and deluged with gift ideas; whether online or in store, their brains are overloaded and inspiration is thin on the ground. The retailer that gains their business will be the one that does the thinking for them.

The long view
Smart retailers are taking a longer-term view of the hectic holiday season. Shoppers are starting to turn their backs on peak seasonal shopping days, and rather than join the dash to the bottom with ever-lower discounts, retailers are engaging with consumers in a memorable way.

They are finding that having a clearly defined purpose, staying true and delivering on their brand promise, lifting the curtain on their business practices, blending digital and human retail models and inspiring the consumer helps them form profitable and enduring relationships that last all year.

Jill Standish is senior managing director of retail at Accenture.

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Black Friday shopping more popular than ever

BY Marianne Wilson

Despite some earlier reports to the contrary, a new survey indicates that Black Friday remains a prime shopping day.

More than three-quarters (79 percent) of Americans say they plan to shop on Black Friday, according to a survey by Propeller Insights on behalf of Ebates. Additionally, 44% revealed that they plan to camp out to get the best deals on laptops (22%), TVs (21%) and housewares (20%).

Adults and teens agree that clothing is the number one item they plan to buy on Black Friday (39% for adults and 49% for teens). Fifty-one percent of adult women choose clothing as the number one item they’ll buy on Black Friday and 61% of teen girls also choosing it. Only 27% of adult men and 33% of teen boys chose clothing.

When it comes to where they plan to shop, 36% of Americans will shop both online and in-store. However, 25% of Americans will shop solely online (25 percent), and another 20% will only shop in-store.

Clothing is the number one choice for both online and in-store shopping.

 

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