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Holiday Retail Trends and How to Maximize 2021 Sales

2-minute read

A recent report predicts 9% growth in retail in 2021 which puts it at its highest level in 20 years.

As a result, many retailers are gearing up for their best holiday season yet. Pent up demand combined with many families having more money to spend are believed to be the two factors influencing this trend. The only competition for this spend may come from additional spending on travel and eating out. Still retailers will want to maximize the opportunity to grow sales which means they need to optimize every sales opportunity both online and in-store for their share of the $1.14 trillion predicted spend.

While many shoppers may be keen to get back into stores for an in-person shopping experience as part of the holiday vibe, digital shopping still has a vital role to play. For these shoppers, the customer journey may end in-store, but there’s a strong possibility that it’ll still start online. Highlighting the critical importance of optimizing digital experiences.

Optimize digital customer experiences for growth

The National Retail Federation predicts that online sales will grow between 18% and 23% and the majority of customers are now very familiar with online shopping. While this may support the growth trend for ecommerce, it also brings with it significantly increased expectations.

Ecommerce has become much more competitive in the past year as more traditional businesses and big brands shifted their focus to selling online and direct to customers. Market leaders have shown what’s possible by offering increasingly frictionless shopping experiences that connect with their customers. If companies want to be successful in attracting customers and getting them to buy, they need to offer a distinctive customer experience (CX).

The rise of personalization

A key expectation starting to define CX is greater levels of personalization. Customers are not only willing to pay more for this, they’re also quick to switch to a competitor if they feel they will receive a more personalized shopping experience. This goes way beyond losing a visitor because they don’t find the products or information relevant to what they’re looking for.

Retailers are finding it challenging to keep pace with changing customer expectations and this is where AI-driven optimization and personalization can provide a significant competitive advantage in ecommerce.  The more ideas, variables, and combinations possible the more efficient AI becomes at determining the best performing experiences to serve up to visitors and customers. AI-driven optimization and personalization is continually learning from real visitor behavior and is always optimizing CX. This means that as trends and buying behaviors change, AI-driven optimization and personalization can keep up and even use this to inform new ideas to experiment with.

The business case for starting to optimize CX now

Retail leaders generally agree that CX is the one differentiating factor they can compete on. It represents the fastest path to growth. Plus being able to continually optimize CX enables a more sustainable path to growth as it has potential to positively impact the customer lifetime value (CLV).

Despite these benefits, many retailers still remain hesitant to try new optimization solutions now, fearing it’ll impact their growth potential. But rather than being a safeguard, this hesitancy presents the greatest risk. In the competitive world of ecommerce where CX is king, retailers need to be able to respond quickly to changing customer behaviors.

Traditional testing tools have very little to offer to help in this area. They’re time-intensive and unable to accommodate any new variables or changes midway. This means the insights gained are often no longer relevant because customer preferences and behaviors have changed.

By contrast, imagine being able to test tens of ideas with hundreds of variables and in thousands of combinations and generate insights within a matter of weeks instead of months. Now consider the additional advantage of being able to add to winning ideas, removing low performers, and continually optimizing towards the best experiences. If there is more than $1 trillion on the table this holiday season, how much more growth can be achieved by optimizing and personalizing CX and digital shopping experiences with an AI-driven solution?

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