16 Dec E-commerce vs High Street Stores: The Holiday Retail BattleReading Time: 5 minutes
In this very moment we’re in the very thick of the annual holiday shopping season. Yet the high street is (a little) less crowded this year. There’s no doubt about it, online purchasing has become a global norm. How do brick-and-mortar stores compete with e-commerce behemoths like Amazon? The answer lies in understanding consumer behaviour, offering an incomparable level of customer service, providing exclusive add-on services and embracing digital as tightly as possible.
Cyber Week Dominates Global Retail’s Top Season
Retail’s most crucial sales season, both online and offline, peaks between Black Friday (which fell on November 29th this year) and Christmas. In this critical month, especially on a few make-or-break sales days during Cyber Week (Black Friday still holds the title of #1 overall and in-store sales day for the entire year, and Cyber Monday/Tuesday are top for online sales) brands make up to 30% of their annual revenue. Last year, Cyber Week alone accounted for 37% of total holiday retail sales according to Salesforce.
This calendar illustrates the highest ranking sales days of the year in 2018: Black Friday (23rd November 2018) and the following Cyber Monday took the top spots. Cyber Monday eclipses Black Friday for online sales, especially among the digital generations; Millenials and Gen Z.
Source: Google Holiday Retail Report
It’s not just in the US that Cyber Week makes such a monumental impact. According to data by Criteo, Europe enjoys similar or even greater sales rushes on these critical days. The UK, an early adopter of Black Friday, saw a boom of +332% of retail sales on this day in 2018 – comparable to the surge in the US. What’s more interesting, however, are the markets in the rest of Europe. Spain, Poland and Sweden saw sales soar higher than the US or the UK on Black Friday. Spain’s ‘Viernes Negro’ boomed to +401% sales and Poland reached an astronomical 469% sales growth on this single day.
Additional Services Offer an In-Store Advantage
Clearly, high street retailers throughout Europe should invest prudently into both their online and offline strategies for Cyber Week 2020. For telco companies, offering additional services such as mobile device insurance in person is a critical in-store advantage.
Digital insurtech companies like i-surance design insurance products that are in hot demand so that retailers can sell them as add-on services to customers easily. These are effortless, fast and digital for distributors to implement as well as for customers to use. Moreover, i-surance trains in-store staff to optimise point-of-sale performance with a proven methodology. This not only results in a major boost in in-store revenue, but also in excellent face-to-face service experiences by customers. The human touch is the true advantage over impersonal online shopping.
It is important to bear in mind that, despite online shopping taking the world by storm (over half of all purchases, according to this Google report), there remains the other half of customers that do their holiday buying in-store. This is especially poignant in the week leading up to Christmas. According to EMEA data from Criteo, brick-and-mortar stores that also ran an online shop saw over 80% of transactions happening in-store in the days before Christmas, when customers flock to get their hands on last-minute gifts. There is still a large segment of customers that are loyal to high street retailers, and will remain so with unbeatable in-store promotions and service.
Online Presence Essential For Survival of Any Store
What is vital to note, however, is that online presence plays an enormous role in offline sale success. High street stores cannot expect to compete without a solid digital strategy. The Google report quotes that the mobile search terms “where to buy” and “store hours” boom right before Christmas, so it is essential to have online information visible and updated, even when your store is offline.
There are various efforts that can be made online to get real customers through the door. Online advertising and YouTube videos are effective; Ikea doubled their sales by using smart online ads. As for YouTube; 90% of global shoppers say they have discovered new brands through the channel, with 40% ending up buying a product they discovered there (Google report). Displaying inventory online is hugely important when it comes to product research and subsequent in-store sales; In the US, 82% of smartphone users consult their devices on purchases they intend to make instore.
Source: Deloitte 2019 Holiday Retail Survey
Leading High Street Retailers Deploy A Mix of Sales Tactics
MediaMarkt is one retailer that excels both online and offline in capturing holiday shoppers. In the week leading up to Black Friday 2019 MediaMarkt heavily discounted many electronics in their ‘Offer Marathon’, knowing that bargain hunters were already researching their purchases ahead of time. FNAC similarly ran their ‘Black Label’ discounts during the week leading up to the big day. Euronics used the clever tactic of transforming Black Friday into a whole Black Week rather than a single day, to target shoppers that feared offline and online crowds on the day. Specsavers on previous Black Fridays offered a ‘golden ticket’ on their website as well as handing these out in-store that could be used in participating brick-and-mortar stores for money off eyeglasses, driving physical traffic into their doors that way.
Preparing For Holiday Shopping Season 2020
Although the global digital transformation has rocketed e-commerce Goliaths like Amazon to staggering heights (in 2018, Amazon had 41 percent of all U.S. online sales, according to FTI Consulting, and continues to thrive with year-over-year growth of over 20%), high street retailers still stand a chance in competing during peak holiday shopping season.
If offline retailers offer exceptional in-store promotions driven by online efforts, and focus their energy on stellar customer care, they will reap the benefits of Cyber Week and the Christmas shopping rush as much as their online-only competitors. i-surance is an expert at refining sales strategies for high street electronic and eyeglass stores, through providing innovative insurance offers and crafting customer-centric experiences. To learn more and request a consultation, contact i-surance here.