It’s that time of the year again when shopping turns into overdrive. Whether you are a big spender or a more conservative buyer, we are all making shopping lists, buying gifts for our loved ones and investing time and money in socializing during the festive season. According to NFR, the holiday season is responsible for as much as 30 percent of a retailer’s sales for the year.
Retailers hope to enjoy a cheerful season, but with that much at stake they need to understand what customers are buying this season, what their expectations are and how they plan to make their purchases.
Entering the holiday season, the number one concern for shoppers is not knowing what gift to buy, followed by worries about navigating crowds and queues in store, budgeting for purchases and being unable to find the products they want. They have very clear preferences on what they value though, as well as for what motivates them. Spotting good deals is at the top of the list, followed closely by the convenience of shopping online and finding inspiring gift ideas. Consumers buying online are also looking for free shipping, being willing to wait up to seven days for order delivery.
When it comes to choosing gifts, there are no surprises as the top items people plan to buy range from clothing, gift cards and games to books, cosmetics and jewelry. What channels do they plan to use though to make their purchases?
Omni-channel shopping behaviors are increasingly prevalent as most consumers plan to head both online and in-store to make their research and festive purchases. While researching and buying happen online in significant numbers, in-store experience still plays a major role in the shoppers’ journey as they prefer to interact with products in person. However, shoppers are increasingly looking to digitally enhanced in-store shopping experiences: browsing products from a digital panel, self-checkout, and offers direct to their phone were top benefits as far as consumers in store were concerned. This consumer journey of mixing online and in-store for research, pricing and comparisons is now a commonplace.
With all that in mind, it’s becoming quite clear that the winners this holiday season will be those retailers who offer three specific capabilities: personalization, omni-channel and convenience. Demand for these capabilities is not only shifting the shopping experience, but the payment process as well.
Transaction ecosystems underpinning the holiday shopping season include a wide variety of participants ranging from retailers, credit card companies and financial institutions to fraud service providers, mobile wallets and payment processors. Regardless of where or how it happens, consumers expect their payment options to be convenient, fast and secure.
Merchants need to address the specific needs and desires of consumers through their payment technology systems this holiday season to offer a seamless experience. More and more physical stores include in their strategies the possibility of mobile and alternative payments, like digital wallets or wearables, offering flexibility and convenience to consumers, allowing them to be in control of their payment options. Further to this, by enabling different payment options at the checkout, they can decrease queues during the busy holiday season. Online retailers, on the other hand, need to ensure easy and transparent online payment methods for their customers, offering multiple checkout options, maximizing privacy and asking for essential information only.
Consumers want guidance and inspiration on what to buy, where to buy it from and what is the fastest and most convenient way to get through holiday shopping. The retailers that help them cut through the clutter, make confident choices and offer seamless online and offline customer experiences will be the winners this holiday season.
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