Retail folklore pegs the day after Thanksgiving as the day when retailers went “in the black” and began making a profit. That day marked the official start to the holiday shopping season. As of late, Black Friday hasn't held as many happy memories for retailers -- last year saw the first decline in Black Friday sales since 2009.
This year, however, there is every indication that things could be different, writes MPD CEO Karen Webster. The newest Vantiv OmniReadi Tracker report highlights the fact that consumers are feeling more confident in their earnings power, the economy's overall improvement, and retailers' aggressive moves to bring shoppers into their stores -- some, like Macy's, are even opening on Thanksgiving Day, perhaps just after the tables are cleared.
To make the holiday season even brighter for merchants and omnicommerce consumers, some of the tactics that merchants are deploying and perfecting include:
Mobile-optimized websites: Getting consumers to convert from lookers to buyers by, for example, having a website that is responsible to a mobile device and also offers options like pay online and pickup inshore.
In-store experiences: Creating experiences memorable enough to get consumers in and shopping, and often without discounts.
mPOS: Devices that are turning sales associates into tablet-enabled customer ambassadors and checkout terminals.
What's more, the official launch of Apple Pay has enabled consumers with new iPhone 6's and 6 Pluses to buy things in app that accept Apple Pay and in physical stores that do as well. This prompts the question: Could Apple Pay and others like it open the door to a whole new reality of using a single digital payments method across all of the channels consumers shop?
Key insights from Vantiv this month indicate:
1) To engage customers, many retailers are developing marketing campaigns for the holiday shopping season focused on mobile devices. A recent global study conducted by SDL of more than 3,000 consumers found that shoppers under 30 were the most likely to research via smartphones when considering holiday purchases.
2) To enable customers, retailers are translating mobile engagement into sales. eMarketer reports that m-commerce sales will total approximately $57 billion in 2014, about 19 percent of all retailer e-commerce sales.
3) To serve customers, many omnichannel retailers are putting tablets in-stores, whether in the hands of the associates, as part of self-serve kiosks, or methods of payment, to improve the overall in-store shopping experience.
Players executing omnicommerce strategies in preparation for the holidays this month include:
1) To engage customers, Wal-Mart announced that it's offering free shipping on what it considers to be the season's top 100 gifts, and started offering discounts (or "rollbacks") on 20,000 items starting the Saturday after Halloween.
2) To enable customers, merchants like Walgreens, Macy's and Nike enabled the recently launched mobile commerce scheme Apple Pay, allowing for quick, easy and secure payments via Apple's iPhone 6.
3) To serve customers, Whole Foods began its trial of one-hour grocery deliveries in 15 large cities throughout the U.S., allowing customers to order food via Instacart.com or the Instacart mobile app, select a delivery window, and checkout in a few simple steps.
This report will, on a monthly basis, document the moves these progressive retailers are making to enable omnichannel across three critical lenses:
Engage the Customer: Strategies merchants are enacting to drive customers into their store or online including loyalty programs, contextually relevant offers, and leveraging data to make relevant product recommendations.
Enable the Customer: Tools merchants are deploying to arm customers with the ability to shop and buy whenever and wherever they want including apps, enabling payment within the app, location-based services, and the ability to shop and fulfill purchases regardless of channel.
Serve the Customer: Ways in which merchants are stepping out from behind the counter to deliver enhanced shopping experiences such as mobile-point-of-sale, ability to check inventory in real-time, etc.
The report will also feature industry-spanning statistics and factoids curated by Vantiv, whose solutions help merchants more easily make that transition. These statistics and factoids will help to arm retailers (and those who power them) with data to make smarter decisions when considering various options for enabling omnicommerce.
For more on the developments across the omnicommerce ecosystem, download the full version of this month’s report by clicking the button below.