Retail Predictions for Holiday Season and Beyond

Many retailers will not think of 2020 as “normal” when they think about the holiday season. They might instead consider the holiday season before as “resilient” and “historic”. E-commerce has seen a surge in popularity since then. As another holiday season approaches, they will be able to combine that uniqueness with a greater consumer optimism. Despite slow or crumbling supply chains, the next major sales moments will be very interesting and likely to be groundbreaking.

The next few months will see retail sales grow by double digits (upto 17.9%) with 2021 seeing a record 933 billion in sales. Retailers and brands should pay close attention to emerging trends to avoid losing their footing under the Christmas lights.

AI and AR Will Increase Engagement

Augmented reality (AR), is not a new concept. However, as shoppers have become less inclined to shop in person over the past year, e-commerce has adopted the technology. This allows customers to “see” possible purchases from cosmetics to clothing and home furnishings. Brands like Walmart, Macy’s, and Sephora have already harnessed AR’s potential and it is not slowing down. Experts estimate that 120,000 online stores will use AR technology by 2022.

Similar story: The E-Commerce Secret Weapon: AR & VR

Artificial intelligence (AI-powered chatbots) are also expected to increase in usage this holiday season, largely due to the fact that many brands lack the manpower necessary to manage their businesses using a human-first approach. Chatbots are a great way to communicate with customers and merchants. These tools will become more intuitive as they allow brands to communicate with customers and listen to them. This can not only help improve customer engagement but also personalize the experience and make it more pleasant for consumers.

Specialty Stores will Drive ROI

Retailers and brands can make the holiday season more successful by creating a shopping experience that is relevant to key customer segments. The best way for merchants to create a special store experience is to use more readily available technology. This can be done by sourcing more technology that is compatible with key segments of the market such as employees, friends, VIPs, loyalty members, and so on. Without disrupting the main channel of e-commerce, specialty stores can offer unique pricing, customized catalogs and business rules that are tailored to specific audiences. They can be used to protect a brand from liquidation or create buzz about a product launch. Segmenting the shopping experience is a strategy that has not been used because e-commerce solutions are too slow and costly to adapt.

To increase product turnover and margins, retailers can now launch digital pop-ups that sell specialty products to sell to a worldwide audience.

Looking ahead

The 2021 holiday season promises to be another landmark retail moment. There is so much at stake, from revenue to loyalty and more. Retailers and brands need to take advantage of new technologies and strategies in order to reach consumers more effectively and make the most out of this unique opportunity.

Dan Wallace-Brewster, senior vice president of marketing for Scalefast is an enterprise ecommerce platform.

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