While it can sometimes not feel like it, life will return to normal. People will again be able to shop in stores on Black Friday and attend holiday parties. But what cannot be expected is for consumer behaviors and expectations to revert back to how they were pre-COVID.

6 Retail Changes Affecting the 2020 Holiday Shopping Season

There is a popular belief that it takes 21 days to establish a habit. Arguments can be made that number is too low, but regardless, consumers will have been in their socially distant buying habits for hundreds of days by the time the holidays come around. Which means the new way of shopping is now well engrained in their everyday behaviors. While some of the behavior changes that accompanied the pandemic came out of necessity, many are turning into expectations for a new normal. Curbside pickup is a great example. It was designed out of necessity as a safer option of buying online and picking up in the store, but consumers have experienced it for so long, it is a habit and is turning into an expected aspect of service.

Adobe Analytics recently found that buy-online, pick-up-in-store orders surged 208% in April from the year-prior period.

Here are three other trends that we see sticking around well into the new year, from our latest ebook, Holiday 2020 and Beyond.

1. CPG brands moving DTC

The pandemic has caused an extra wrinkle of stress for consumer goods brands. With many retail partners closed or in flux with closed or limited stores, CPG brands have needed to find new ways to directly engage consumers and own the relationship. The most popular and successful solution has been for these brands to implement direct-to-consumer strategies to target customers who may only know their product through a retailer, get them to purchase directly from the brand’s site, and retain them as loyal customers.

It is a clear avenue of growth that we believe brands— especially more established CPG brands—will continue to eye and capitalize on.

2. Shopping as an experience

One of the things the pandemic reminded us is that we can get anything we need delivered to our doorstep or to the back of our cars. The idea of having someone pick out and bring your groceries to the parking lot or having clothing delivered to your house is no longer a luxury. But people still like shopping in stores for the experience of it. Stores are a destination and a source of comfort—a way to get out of the house and socialize. We expect consumers will continue to have many of their essential needs shipped to their homes, while treating brick-and-mortar stores as experiences (once they are able to open as normal again).

3. Blurring the digital and physical experiences

Brands have been striving to create holistic, cohesive experiences between their physical and digital channels for years. With brick-and-mortar stores closed, retailers are now attempting to bring the benefits of the in-store experience to their digital channels. This includes developing ways to generate digital impulse purchases as effectively as end caps, as we touched on in my previous holiday blog post, and using technology like AR to replicate the experience of trying on clothes.

If you’re looking for more holiday retail marketing strategies, download our free ebook Holiday 2020 and Beyond for more insights and to get started.

Looking forward to 2021

5 DTC Lessons That Can Be Learned From 90s Infomercials

While this year seems to be longer than any other, 2021 is just around the corner. Now is a great time to consider implementing new solutions and interactive digital experiences to engage with your customers in the new year.

Our team of expert retail marketers have helped national and global brands—including Gap Inc., PepsiCo, GORE-TEX, and Walmart—implement email marketing strategies, commerce solutions, and digital marketing campaigns that drive action. Let’s talk about how we can work together to develop long-lasting digital connections in 2021.

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