Retail Marketing|Thought Leadership|Trends|

Omnichannel performance and a widening window of opportunity are two big retail priorities to keep an eye on in fourth quarter.

Beset by huge challenges of the uncharted territory variety in the past decade-plus — see e-commerce and COVID-19 — the retail industry will gladly tackle known knowns this holiday season. Yes, supply chain issues, labor shortages and inflation will be major factors, but the industry enters its biggest sales season with pent-up energy and fresh omnichannel balance to counter those headwinds.

We’ve said before in this space that there’s no substitute for substance in retail marketing. That includes good data for advanced analytics. To help the marketing cause, Paris-based advertising tech company Criteo combed through millions of consumer transactions from its retailer partners and findings from its global monthly Consumer Sentiment Index survey to make these five predictions about the retail holiday season:

1. Cyber Month will continue to steal Black Friday’s thunder

The rise of e-commerce has shifted consumer attention away from the one-day buying binge known as Black Friday and spread it across all of November. What’s come to be known as “Cyber Month” should get a faster start as shoppers start buying earlier to counter lingering supply chain and labor shortage issues. More than three-quarters of Americans (77%) told Criteo that they “often purchase holiday gifts during Amazon Prime Day and the competing events offered by other retailers in July.”

2. Acquisition opportunities will be strongest at the beginning of the season

It follows from the above that earlier season shopping volume makes the period an important time to acquire new customers. Criteo asserts that later in December is the time to focus on returning customers and client loyalty.

3. Highly variable shopping journeys will require agile marketing

Interestingly, Criteo found that for the one-quarter of U.S. consumers with the shortest path to purchase the average time between a first-page view and a purchase was just a half hour. For the quarter of consumers with the longest path to purchase the average time was 48 days! This confirms that consumer journeys aren’t all the same and, as we discussed in late June, the importance of digital experience analytics in understanding customers and tailoring your online offerings to meet their needs.

4. Stores and online will both be strong this season

Omnichannel is more than multi-channel; it harnesses consumer tendencies and preferences to mix bricks and clicks for their best match. In-store shoppers buy almost twice as often when they also visit the retailer’s website, according to Criteo sales data, and survey findings point to increased year-over-year volumes of people buying online and picking up in-store.

Michael Rivera, infinitee’s creative director, wrote in August that with a smart omni-channel strategy retailers can complement their digital game with physical engagement, strengthened through experiential offerings. It really hits home when one considers the Forester finding that 72 percent of U.S. retail transactions will occur in physical stores, and that 62 percent of online orders are fulfilled at physical locations, according to ICSC.

5. Shoppers will start checking off their gift lists now

Some still scoff at Halloween store displays in August or Christmas ones right after Halloween, but Criteo’s findings support early consumer engagement. Its ongoing global consumer survey found that half of respondents started thinking of holiday gifts in July 2021, and 30 percent had bought gifts in August 2021.  

“The things that make us storytellers and creative advocates in business also help give us a finer appreciation of the holidays, I believe,” said Marcia Homer, infinitee’s Director of Brand Management. “Our firm’s personal touch and habit of having fun along the way are definitely conducive to brightening the season. We’re here to brighten your retail business and branding prospects all throughout the year.”


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