The COVID-19 pandemic has had an undoubtedly dramatic and significant impact on consumer habits and spending behavior. With consumers hesitant to step indoors and businesses mandating occupancy limits and social distancing, the adoption of digital commerce has accelerated since March, with no signs of slowing down as we head into an unprecedented holiday season.
Consumers’ continued reluctance to shop in physical stores points to the growing demand for timely and reliable e-commerce options. Due to safety concerns, consumers from the Gartner Consumer Community indicated they will forgo shopping in physical stores and instead opt for online ordering for their holiday shopping needs. In fact, seventy-four percent of surveyed consumers plan to purchase gifts through delivery while only 19% will primarily shop in-store. Retail marketing leaders preparing for the ensuing onslaught of online holiday ordering should:
Leverage Digital to Drive to Store
Look for opportunities to drive shoppers to store locations to mitigate pressure on fulfillment centers and shipping providers, avoid potential delivery mishaps, and control delivery costs. Retailers like Nordstrom are incentivizing customers with an exclusive order discount if they use in-store or curbside pickup. Big box merchants like Target and Walmart are going all in with in-store tech upgrades and app enhancements to facilitate quick, contactless checkout and entrance line reservations.
Elevate Fulfillment and Shipping Transparency
Generate awareness of fulfillment options often and early in the site journey, and use clear and coherent messaging to communicate shipping timelines and manage customer expectations. Retailers like The Home Depot amplify omnichannel offerings by highlighting product availability and inventory visibility by store.
Partner Strategically for Instant Delivery
The COVID-19 pandemic has created the urgency and demand for instant delivery, but same-day delivery services have proven to be an expensive proposition for retailers that lack the resources. A bevy of brands have partnered with last-mile delivery couriers to expand instant delivery options in lieu of building out their own delivery platforms. DoorDash and Macy’s have partnered up for same-day and next-day delivery, while Instacart has added Sephora, Staples, and Big Lots to its roster. Most recently, Postmates launched a retail platform that allows users to shop for instant delivery from small independent brands like Parachute Home, Le Labo, and Zadig & Voltaire.
For more recommendations on how to beat the competition and prepare for the holiday season, check out Gartner’s recently published research Retail Marketing Leaders Must Prepare for a Digital-First 2020 Holiday Season (subscription required).