It’s hard to believe it’s already time to gear up for holiday shopping. Last year, the retail and consumer goods industries poured endless hours and resources into ecommerce in anticipation for low turnout at brick-and-mortar stores. Now, we face a completely new uncertainty for holiday 2021.

Identifying what makes holiday 2021 unique  

Prior to 2020, the holiday season was defined by an influx of brick-and-mortar shoppers of every demographic. Brands could count on all types of customer profiles to make in-store purchases, especially on universal shopping days like Black Friday. Shelves were stocked high with even more products in the back, and brands hired seasonal in-store employees to keep up with customer demand.

But we also know the drastic turn of events from last year all too well. Consumers’ priorities shifted to staying safe at home rather than venturing out to shop, and stores across the globe adjusted for holiday shopping that was primarily online. Retail and consumer goods brands made drastic changes to their online stores and shopping portals, shipping and delivery departments scrambled during a national mail crisis, and customer service representatives had to be available at all times.

While we have hope that shopping at brick-and-mortar stores will once again be a leisure activity for everyone, we aren’t in the clear just yet. And even if in-store experiences return, consumers are largely digital-first after the past year and the role of ecommerce doesn’t look like it will decrease. How you market and sell products for holiday 2021 — whether in person or digital — could vary heavily by region, depending on the vaccine and reopening plans of each state. So, for national brands, the ways in which consumers are able or want to engage in one state could be different than another. It has never been more important to understand trends driving the season, know your customers well, and personalize their experience.

Trends driving the season 

For many brands, adding to the challenge of predicting engagement channels is the financial and operational uncertainty. We’re here to help you navigate this uncertainty by pinpointing three trends for holiday 2021.

  1. Identity goes beyond first-party data and defines who the customer is by recognizing where and how they engage with your brand now, as well as how they engaged in the past. This will help you predict what they will do this holiday season.
  2. A consistent and connected physical and digital relationship with your brand will be important for customers. Figure out how you can best utilize your brick-and-mortar stores, as well as your online space.
  3. The last mile of the customer journey is not when an order is placed. The order management, delivery, and customer service components of the customer journey are how you can set your brand apart from the rest.

The common thread to success for each of these trends is a cross-channel strategy. Preparing your brand for a large variance in customer behavior across all touchpoints is essential. In the next few weeks, we will continue this conversation about holiday 2021 by covering each of these key cross-channel strategy components:

  • Data
  • Digital Messaging and experience
  • Commerce
  • Loyalty

In the meantime, we have multiple resources to jump-start your holiday preparation.

Prepare your brand for holiday 2021

Only the benefit of hindsight in January will truly answer the questions surrounding this year’s holiday season. But with so much at stake, both from a financial and customer-relationship perspective, now is not the time for shortcuts.

Download our Holiday Preparation 2021 Playbook and sign up for our upcoming The Next Normal webinar, The Trends Driving Holiday 2021 Success, to go beyond overcoming obstacles this holiday season and thrive as a brand.

Download Holiday Preparation 2021 Playbook

Register for The Next Normal: The Trends Driving Holiday 2021 Success

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