Deloitte reported that total holiday sales are forecasted at $981 to $986 billion, up from $602 billion spent last year, according to the NRF. That’s a lot of potential business—and competition—for retailers.
Not surprisingly, new data from JLL’s 2014 Holiday Sentiment Report found that 77 percent of retailers still feel the holiday season is their most critical time. The survey, which includes feedback from more than 800 national and global retailers in JLL-managed shopping centers across the country, also found that the number of in-store shoppers is expected to increase, or remain stable, this year.
Why does it matter? Retailers have the chance to compete with e-commerce, and create a charming, memorable customer experience.
JLL’s survey revealed a few ways in which retailers are going above and beyond this holiday season.
3 Ways to Exceed Consumer Expectations In-Store
In the words of Karen Raquet, Director of National Retail Property Services at JLL, “Shopper expectations have changed profoundly.”
How are retailers keeping pace with shopper expectations? JLL research revealed the following trends:
1. Convenience is key. Retailers are making the purchase process as simple as possible. In fact, “…more than one third of respondents indicated they will be offering free shipping and/or ship-from-store to consumers,” according to the report.
2. Customer service matters. Because in the age of digital, it’s all about the experience. To keep lines moving and customers happy, retailers are hiring. Ninety-five percent said they would hire more or keep the number of holiday hires consistent, as compared to 2013. Nearly 40 percent indicated they would increase the number of employees up to 15 percent.
3. It’s all about savings. Let’s face it: today’s consumer has a lot of choices for almost any product. They are checking out your competitor’s prices via mobile and online to make sure they’re getting the best deal. Retailers that don’t offer special promotions during the holiday season will fall behind. One way to attract shoppers to your physical location is to offer special promotions for in-store shoppers only.
Distributors Strategize for the ‘Christmas Crunch’
Online shopping has transformed the holiday shopping landscape for retailers, consumers, and distributors alike.
“It’s expected that online sales will comprise up to 12 percent of total sales by 2017, up from its current share of 6.0 percent.”
– JLL’s Karen Raquet, Director of National Retail Property Services
Every year, retailers will need to continue to prepare for the “Christmas Crunch,” both online and offline. This requires a more efficient distribution plan to ensure consumers receive their gifts in time. According to SupplyChain247, FedEx and UPS have new strategies to be better prepared for the Santa-induced-delivery-boost this month, including hiring more seasonal employees and investing in system upgrades.
JLL’s Senior Vice President, Matt Dickerson, suggests more strategic, transparent communications with the consumer. He recommends making cut-off dates earlier, so expectations are more in line with reality.
For this year’s holiday season, service, flexibility and purchasing options will make or break retailers’ success.
For more details on holiday shopping trends, download JLL’s 2014 Holiday Sentiment Report.
About the Author
JC Pelusi is an International Director for JLL and works out of the Pittsburgh office. As the leader for JLL’s Great Lakes region, JC has extensive experience in a variety of areas, including Corporate Account Management and Transaction Services.