Father’s Day spending in 2018 was expected to reach a near-record-breaking $15.3 billion. As consumer spending continuously increases and subsequent competition rises, the best retailers are finding the optimal mix of physical and online traffic to be critical for competition for high volumes of shopping during annual holidays. We’re sharing the strategies retailers are using to capitalize on annual holidays where consumers are reaching record-breaking spends.
Brick-and-Mortar Still Matters
Despite coverage that physical store footprints are a thing of the past, the best retailers understand the advantages their physical stores can provide by creating experiential events. For example, Nordstrom’s men’s store opening in New York offered donuts and coffee upon arrival with different options based on each customer’s shopping style – from virtual reality stations for their high-tech guests to shoe-shining and wine bars for those seeking a low-tech experience.
With respect to Father’s Day, shoppers considered categories such as electronics, sporting goods, tools, DIYs, and specialty clothing. Consumers that shop these categories are often looking for guidance and input from in-store associates that are experts in the products. To address this need, The Home Depot hosts free community workshops in their stores to walk customers through various DIY projects to familiarize themselves with the products and tools required, as well as the detailed steps to complete these projects. While workshops are conducted throughout the year, many stores leveraged their May and June schedules to showcase project and products relevant to shoppers in search of Father’s Day gifts.
The Advantages of a Blended, Omnichannel Footprint
An optimal customer experience is one that provides sales conversion opportunities across the purchase decision spectrum, and across platforms (online, mobile, in-store). Making it easy for a customer to make an informed purchase across all platforms is critical for success.
While consumers desire products that are priced competitively, they also place a high value on the experiential component of shopping. Stores that were once online-only, such as Rent the Runway, are now opening physical stores to allow customers to feel and try on their clothes for the full experience. In addition to providing access to try the products, Rent the Runway matches in-store customers to a personal stylist that makes recommendations based on known style preferences and purchase history. This allows them to differentiate and combat commoditization of their products, and avoid “web-rooming,” a practice in which customers simply buy from the online retailer with the lowest price.
Many retailers have begun leveraging their store locations to improve the supply chain flexibility of online orders. This includes reducing the shipping time to customers by leveraging in-store inventory to deliver products from the stores that can assure the fastest delivery. As a result of this increased flexibility, approximately 40% of Best Buy’s online orders are shipped or picked up from a store.
This supply chain flexibility will also be advantageous to retailers when, inevitably, some Father’s Day gift recipients make returns or exchanges. By leveraging physical stores to complement the online and mobile space, these retailers have an added opportunity to provide an in-person experience. This can result in an introduction to the in-store experience, an additional or substitute purchase, or a return that eases strain, and associated cost on the retailer’s supply chain reducing the burden placed on distribution centers.
Future Thinking for Retailers: Questions to Ask Themselves
The retail landscape will continue to transform and evolve, and the successful retailers are those that continue to ask themselves the questions below related to omnichannel and seasonal shopping:
- What are the critical conversion points? Purchase? Platform transition (eg. mobile to store) trends?
- Which platforms do your customers use to start and end their journey? What are their respective conversion rates?
- While bringing customers into the store allows for increased opportunity and traffic, it is imperative to make every interaction exceptional.
- Are your associates trained and empowered to provide an exceptional and consistent in-store experience?
- Are your in-store environments optimized to address the varying (purchases, returns, product showcase, and education) needs of customers?
- How prepared are you for the next season?
- Training and staffing
- Correct assortment and inventory levels
With retail’s seasonality, it’s critical for organizations to be thinking about innovation they can bring to their consumers to ensure you are top of mind for customers and capitalize on these annual holidays.