This past year saw 9.04% year over year growth, 214.7 million digital buyers and e-retail saw $1.05 trillion in sales. Motivated by deals and gift-giving, a record 196.7 million consumers shopped the Cyber Five this year according to the National Retail Federation, which is the highest number of shoppers since the organization began tracking this data in 2017. In fact, the record breaking cyber week brought in $281 billion in global online sales.
Now more than ever brands have a deeper understanding of who their shoppers are, why they shop with them, and what they value in their experience with their brand. Let’s take a deeper look at the seven major trends in shopping from the past year, and the strategies that worked best to keep consumers engaged.
1. Community commerce built through social
According to Ali Amarsy, SVP of Global Product Lead at Publicis Commerce, more brands are working closely with TikTok to mature the Community Commerce proposition. It’s about starting with creators – how they want to develop their narrative, acting as enablers to how they curate the world and make that an engaging "shoppertainment" experience. It’s a whole new paradigm and experimenting is at the forefront. Yes, it does make brands and buying tertiary to the creator and the content – but that’s the most authentic way brands can elevate the TikTok experience, and brands are keen to see how they can push culture and invent even more fun ways to shop.
2. Inventory data works harder
Nothing is more frustrating than getting an ad for something that you fall in love with, only to click on it to learn that the item is out of stock — this is an easy fix in the physical and digital world, according to VP of Retail Media Strategy at Publicis Commerce Allysun Lundy. Inventory data must be integrated with media buys to ensure that what is advertised is available in the shopper's size or customization. In a physical location, associates can curate a selection of in-stock items based on the customer's size, removing the potential for disappointment.
Data only works when you put it to work, but once you do, it can unlock many opportunities to enhance a shopping experience, whether in-store or online. When shoppers see the positive effects of what sharing more of their personal attributes can do, they're likely to continue to share and be lifetime loyal customers of a brand that caters to them.
3. Connected, frictionless commerce
Consumers of tomorrow want seamless and predictive experiences that make them feel good, save time and confirm that they have made the right decision. Brands need to focus on the obstacles that exist today to deliver this, emphasized COO of Publicis Commerce Amy Lanzi. That includes preparing for the cookieless world, designing systems for real time engagements and focusing on what is right creatively for long-term brand health.
Making every moment matter is dependent on not just having the right content, but also the tools to know where consumers are in their relationship with you. This means a first party data strategy as well as marketing technology infrastructure that can navigate where consumers are engaging with you – whether on a retail media network, through a social platform or directly. When these two capabilities work together, you can move someone from a transaction to a relationship with the brand over time.
4. Mobile first gets an upgrade
Mobile first has been a topic of conversation since the early 2000’s, but it's no longer about your website being optimized for smaller screens. Now it’s about building an immersive, connected experience to create a 1:1 relationship, as Senior Associate of Commerce Strategy Emily Staples emphasizes. Think of using chat features to build a community around brand moments or integrating AR/VR tech through lenses for gamification and loyalty.
While e-commerce will continue to see consistent growth, with a projected increase of 15.5% from last year, m-commerce (mobile commerce) is expected to see even larger growth with a projected $112B in sales, a nearly 20% increase from last year.
5. Connected Commerce – Creating Consumer Touchpoints
A brand sells directly through its own e-commerce site as well as through retailers like Macy’s and Kohls and outside e-commerce sites like Amazon. Being channel-agnostic, a brand can reach far more customers than they did as a pure DTC, Chief Commerce Strategy Officer at Publicis Groupe Jason Goldberg points out. As a result, customer acquisition costs from outside channel customers are favorable, even with wholesale unit economics.
6. Offline meets online
In years past, brands focused more on retail media networks’ online ad products and digital media opportunities, and less on the retailer’s in-store experiences and how they work together. This year, according to EVP of Media at Publicis Commerce Jill Cruz, various retailers and vendors showcased how to utilize the power of omnichannel retailing and personalization to win with customers— from digital shopping carts and Just Walkout technology to electronic shelf labels and in-store navigation delivered via in app.
7. Building loyalty through commerce experiences
Consumers who shop online aren’t necessarily expecting anything more than a transactional experience, emphasizes SVP of Omnichannel and Emerging Marketplaces at Publicis Commerce Margaux Logan. Owning your audience, understanding their loyalty drivers and, most importantly, taking action on those drivers is key to relationship building. Creating and investing in technology that assists with this and shows how you understand your shopper is the next expenditure of resources many leaders expect and want to make.
Entering the New Year
As the holidays come to a close, New Years is the last hurrah before revealing new opportunities for both brands and consumers as the season ends. The average person is willing to spend up to $186 on New Year’s, with 65% of people spending at least $50 on food and drinks. However, consumers aren’t just spending for themselves, with 31% of charitable giving taking place in December, with 12% occurring in the last three days.
Many brands will face the challenge of post-holiday fatigue, but combatting the decrease in post-holiday sales is doable. Around 48% of consumers are interested in pursuing post-holiday sales and the top three reasons for post-holiday shopping include discounts, redeeming gift cards, and shopping for themselves.
As a result, brands can beat the fatigue by:
- Not slowing down their marketing
- Planning for next season
- Handling post-holiday sales strategically
- Launching new or limited-edition products
Overall, despite inflation, holiday spending is expected to increase with consumers spending on more than just gift-giving. With the pandemic seemingly getting further behind us, excitement around holidays is at an all-time high. Brands that meet customers in the moment will have more success than those that only focus on products.