James Thomson, partner with Buy Box Experts, offers a view of the coming peak holiday shopping season, and describes what retailers are doing to prepare for it, in a time of pandemic.
The coming peak shopping season poses a conundrum for retailers, many of whom depend on those last few weeks of the calendar year for the bulk of their annual revenues. It’s uncertain whether consumers will feel confident enough to engage in their usual flurry of buying, especially when they might be out of work or fear losing their jobs.
The coronavirus pandemic has also accelerated the shift from shopping in physical stores to buying online. That dynamic is likely to be especially evident this year, with consumers nervous about setting foot in stores. Moreover, they have quickly become accustomed to the convenience of e-commerce, and merchants will need to take that trend into account in their selling strategies.
Delivery companies will need to respond as well. Amazon, through the acquisition of its own trucks, has an advantage over rival e-tailers who must rely on external service providers such as UPS and FedEx.
The pandemic is also likely to result in some long-term shifts in merchandising strategies. Retailers still grappling with how to dispose of stale inventory might be pulling back on the trend toward product variation. Esoteric items that appeal to a small number of consumers will migrate to online marketplaces, but the larger merchants might opt for concentrating on a smaller number of SKUs in order to simplify their supply chains and reduce the need to stock relatively unpopular items.
Such preparations will extend beyond the coming peak season and become part of a permanently altered retail landscape, Thomson suggests, as merchants make sure that their offerings are “e-commerce friendly.”
Timely, incisive articles delivered directly to your inbox.